Throughout the United States, there are mineral-rich waters running underground, springing up to deliver a natural way to relax and possibly even relieve certain ailments. You can choose a small soak in the middle of the forest or an ultra-luxurious all-inclusive retreat -- each hot springs experience is as unique as the water it receives.
Here are 11 of the best hot springs in the nation. Happy soaking!
1. Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park, dubbed “the American Spa,” is about an hour west of Little Rock and is the oldest national park in the U.S. Inside the park, there are 47 natural springs with an average temperature of 143 degrees, making them too hot to soak in. For that reason, the town’s founders built bathhouses over the springs where they could regulate the water’s temperature, allowing for safe relaxing.
Today, you can see these houses and their unique architecture by strolling down Bathhouse Row. Only two original bathhouses are still in operation today; one is the Buckstaff Bathhouse, where you can experience a traditional hydrotherapy session before getting a massage or paraffin treatment.
2. Calistoga Hot Springs, Calistoga, California
You can choose your own adventure in Calistoga, California. This Napa Valley town has five unique options where you can enjoy the natural mineral waters flowing under it. The town was discovered some 8,000 years ago by the Wappo tribe, who used the waters to treat various ailments.
Today, you can enjoy a soak at the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, which feature four outdoor pools plus a mineral whirlpool. You can also get spa services like a mud bath filled with volcanic ash mud.
For the ultimate privacy, check in to the Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort, where a few rooms feature in-room spa tubs fed by the local mineral water.
The Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort features private rooms for one or two to enjoy the waters, plus individualized spa services.
The UpValley Inn & Hot Springs prides itself on its laid-back atmosphere and relaxing soaks and steams.
You can head back in time at the Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa. The refurbished lodge has a ’50s vibe to it and has an outdoor pool, wading pool, and indoor whirlpool, plus cruiser bikes, games, and a fire pit for guests.
3. Castle Hot Springs, Morristown, Arizona
Castle Hot Springs is home to the hottest non-volcanic natural spring in the world. You can only access the hot springs if you are a registered guest, and no one under 16 is allowed, so this is definitely a trip for the adults. Located an hour north of Phoenix and surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, the natural waters here feed three on-site pools, plus the tubs in the guest rooms for private soaking.
After soaking, you can play bocce ball, ride the resort’s bikes, or participate in a yoga class -- all are included in your stay. Or head to the spa for a relaxing treatment. The food is fresh; you can actually go out on the farm with the staff to pick some of your own dinner items. And all dinners are included in your stay.
Even getting to Castle Hot Springs is an adventure. You’ll need a special vehicle to navigate the dirt road leading to the resort, or you can really arrive in style by booking a helicopter.
4. Chena Hot Springs Resort, Fairbanks, Alaska
Founded in the early 1900s, Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks, Alaska, has an outdoor hot springs lake only for adults, plus an indoor heated pool and hot tubs both inside and out. It’s open all year long, closes just before midnight each night, and is popular for aurora viewing.
For a slightly chillier experience, head to the Aurora Ice Museum, made from more than 1,000 tons of ice from the resort.
Accommodations at the resort range from private cabins to lodge rooms to RV sites. Be sure to read up on the lodging options -- the cabins don’t have running water, and some of the lodge rooms are only accessible via stairs. The resort does offer military discounts, so be sure to ask about those!
5. Glen Ivy Hot Springs, Corona, California
Luxury awaits at the Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Southern California. Situated about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Glen Ivy’s waters were once valued by the indigenous people for their healing properties. In business for nearly 200 years, the resort has undergone many renovations to become the ultimate relaxation destination it is today.
The upscale resort offers several packages to enjoy the 19 pools, relaxation area, steam rooms, and sauna. A unique feature is Club Mud, a spot where you can pop in throughout the day to rub pure California red clay on your body for exfoliation. Dining here is truly farm to table -- they grow the fruit on the property, so you know it’s extremely fresh!
6. Lava Hot Springs, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Lava Hot Springs is in the far southeastern corner of Idaho, only about an hour north of the Utah border. It has five outdoor pools that are open well into the evening -- perfect for relaxing soaks under the stars. The best part is that it only costs $6 to get in, and there’s a discount for seniors.
After your soak, don’t miss the opportunity for a peaceful walk through the Sunken Gardens. It’s free and features both native and nonnative plants and flowers, birds, and rock walls formed by the remains of algae reefs.
7. Umpqua Hot Springs, Clearwater, Oregon
You will need to earn a dip in the Umpqua Hot Springs. You access them by a short .3-mile hike along the North Umpqua Trail that crosses the North Umpqua River three times. The trail is rated as moderate for occasional steeper grades and rougher conditions. And the upper trailhead sometimes closes during the winter months, which means you will have a longer hike to get there.
The Umpqua Hot Springs is a series of small pools, one of which is covered by a simple wooden structure. Be aware that clothing is optional in these pools, and they are becoming increasingly popular with hikers looking to soothe aching muscles after visiting nearby attractions like Toketee Falls. Set in Oregon’s Cascade Range, the hot springs offer peaceful views of the river surrounded by lush trees.
8. Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Hailed as one of the best hot springs in Colorado, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, located about 2 hours west of Denver, boasts 16 natural pools overlooking the Colorado River. You'll find infinity pools, pools with waterfalls, and even a heart-shaped pool, all filled with more than 14 soothing and healing minerals.
Children under five are not allowed in the thermal pools, but there is a cooler family pool (94 degrees) perfect for those with the grandkids in tow.
Iron Mountain is open year-round, and there are heated walkways to make the experience more pleasant during the winter months.
The on-site restaurant, Sopris Cafe, serves healthy bar fare.
9. Hot Springs, North Carolina
Just across the Tennessee border is Hot Springs, North Carolina, situated along the famous Appalachian Trail. The town claims that Native Americans used the waters during their travels and often stopped at the nearby Paint Rock for meditation and prayer. Today, you can visit Paint Rock and view its ancient pictographs that tell the story of indigenous life some 5,000 years ago.
For soaking, head either to the Hot Springs Resort & Spa or Broadwing Farm. The 100-acre resort has private tubs that are available by the hour. They are continuously fed by the nearby river and are drained and cleaned after every use. The resort has several options for overnight guests, from RV hookups to tent sites to cabins for rent.
Each of the three cabins at Broadwing Farm comes with its own private hot tub filled with mineral water from the nearby French Broad River. During a stay here, you’ll also get fresh fruit and eggs from the farm.
10. Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Part of the appeal of these hot springs is their remoteness. Strawberry Park Hot Springs is off a dirt road that requires you to have a vehicle with four-wheel drive in the winter. Or you can opt to take a shuttle from town with one of two local companies.
The pools are a soothing 104 degrees and open well into the evening. But keep in mind that these hot springs become clothing optional in the evening, so no one under 18 is allowed once the sun goes down! Massages are also available next to the soothing waters.
Staying overnight is a treat here; accommodations include a train caboose, covered wagon, rustic cabin, and tent camping.
11. Chico Hot Springs, Pray, Montana
Popular with those visiting nearby Yellowstone National Park, Chico Hot Springs has been open for more than a hundred years. Situated at the base of Emigrant Peak, the resort offers lodging options ranging from a Victorian inn to cabins to glamping.
Staying on the property grants you free access to the resort’s two outdoor hot spring pools. You can also just visit for the day by buying a day pass -- be sure to ask about the senior discount.