Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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35 Natural Hot Springs to Shake Off Winter's Chill

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Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Annie G./yelp

Nature's Hot Tubs

We humans have been using the earth’s thermal waters to relax and heal for millennia. Whether or not you believe in all the physically and spiritually restorative properties that different cultures credit them with, there’s no denying the appeal of soaking in naturally heated mineral waters, especially in a scenic outdoor setting. (Some are clothing-optional.) With the seasons now warming up, we’ve compiled this list of some of the best — and cheapest — natural hot springs available for public soaking in the U.S., which is lucky enough to be one of the world’s most thermally active nations.

Related: Incredible Hot Tubs Around the World

Chena Hot Springs, Fairbanks, Alaska
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Chena Hot Springs | Fairbanks, Alaska

Sixty miles northeast of Alaska’s second largest city, Chena Hot Springs offer the rare chance to view the Northern Lights from the comfort of a heated spring. The resort boasts both a naturally heated interior pool and an outdoor lake, which is open only to guests 18 and older. Admission costs $15 per adult and goes until nearly midnight, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the aurora borealis on clear nights.

Arizona Hot Spring, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona
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Arizona Hot Spring | Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona

From the White Rock Canyon trailhead south of the Hoover Dam, a strenuous hike through dramatic slot canyons brings you to this collection of three clothing-optional hot springs along the Colorado River. The area is also accessible via kayak or raft, but visiting is not recommended during the sweltering summer months of May through September. The National Park Service also recommends keeping your head above the water to reduce exposure to a rare and lethal amoeba that enters through the nose.

Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
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Hot Springs National Park | Hot Springs, Arkansas

Nicknamed “The American Spa,” Hot Springs National Park encompasses 47 natural hot springs that have been frequented by vacationers since the late 18th century and revered by Native Americans for much longer. While you wouldn’t want to soak in the 143° springs themselves, visitors can appreciate the therapeutic mineral waters at Bathhouse Row’s seven traditional Gilded Age spas like Buckstaff Baths, which offers clawfoot-tub soaks and other hydrotherapy and massage treatments starting at $38.

Deep Creek Hot Springs, Apple Valley, California
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Deep Creek Hot Springs | Apple Valley, California

California’s Sierra Nevada mountains are full of thermal pools, and these hot springs in San Bernardino National Forest offer some of the best soaking you can get without paying for full spa facilities. From the parking lot at Bowen Ranch, which charges a $5 fee, a 2.5-mile trail ends with a steep descent before crossing Deep Creek, where you’ll find about a half-dozen springs of varying temperatures to try out.

Esalen Hot Springs, Big Sur, California
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Esalen Hot Springs | Big Sur, California

Used for ritual and healing purposes for more than 6,000 years, these hot springs are now a part of Big Sur’s Esalen retreat center, whose guests get exclusive access to the clothing-optional hot tubs most times of the day. Others have to stay up late for one of their public “night bathing” sessions from 1 to 3 a.m., which cost $35 per person and must be booked in advance the day before, with registration opening at 9 a.m. It’s a high bar for access as far as hot springs go, but you’re rewarded with a near-unparalleled place of tranquility punctuated by the roar of the Pacific waves.

Sierra Hot Springs, Sierraville, California
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Sierra Hot Springs | Sierraville, California

Once a sacred healing place for Native Americans, Sierra Hot Springs is now an 800-acre nonprofit resort and retreat center, but its main attraction is still the naturally heated spring waters. Their clothing-optional soaking facilities include the 105- to 110‑degree Hot Pool, enclosed in a stained-glass geodesic dome, the 98- to 100‑degree Warm Pool, neighboring a large sundeck and sauna, and the 98- to 100‑degree meditation pool, a faux-natural pool with a sandy bottom and rocky borders. For day visits, at least one in your party must hold a current membership, which costs just $5 a month; from there, a three-hour soak starts at $20 per person.

Travertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport, California
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Travertine Hot Springs | Bridgeport, California

An easy stop off Highway 395 near the California-Nevada border, Travertine Hot Springs offers a concrete-lined tub and several soaking areas all with stunning views of the Sierras. Natural minerals make the waters and surrounding rock formations as vibrantly colorful as they are convenient to access. There is limited camping space on the dirt road leading to the springs and clothing is optional, so be prepared for nudity.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, Mammoth Lakes, California
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Wild Willy’s Hot Springs | Mammoth Lakes, California

More peaceful than the water park-esque name might suggest, Wild Willy’s Hot Springs are a pair of shallow thermal pools — one heart-shaped for extra charm — set amidst grassy plains and snow-capped Sierras. Since they’re only 0.02 miles along an elevated path from the roadway, they can get crowded on weekends. The springs are located off Benton Crossing Road after a series of cattle gates — which may be closed in the winter, adding an extra 1.5 miles to the trek — and surrounded by free camping areas on Bureau of Land Management property.

Conundrum Hot Springs, Crested Butte, Colorado
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Conundrum Hot Springs | Crested Butte, Colorado

At the end of an 8.5-mile uphill hike, Conundrum Hot Springs makes for a rejuvenating destination that visitors should stay in the backcountry overnight to appreciate. Considered one of the country’s best hot springs, the main pool, which fits more than a dozen people at a time, sits on a solitary high meadow at an elevation of 11,200 feet surrounded by even higher peaks, plus a smaller, cooler pool for some contrast in temperature. Staying at the primitive campsite nearby requires a backcountry permit and reservation through Recreation.gov.

Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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Glenwood Hot Springs Resort | Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The Yampah Spring produces more than 3.5 million gallons of hot water per day, which leaves plenty to fill Glenwood Hot Springs’ 100-by-40-foot mineral therapy pool — the largest in the world. While prices vary, non-resort guests typically pay around $22 for all-day access to the 104‑degree pool, and the “Spa of the Rockies” has many other treatment offerings to entice those looking to relax and treat themselves.

Strawberry Park Hot Springs, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
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Strawberry Park Hot Springs | Steamboat Springs, Colorado

After a winter’s day on Steamboat’s slopes, there’s no better way to relax and restore the muscles than a 104‑degree soak at Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Their more than 20 expansive riverside pools feature amenities like water slides and lounge areas surrounded by alpine scenery and evocative Western touches like a teepee and covered wagons. Adults not booked at the resort pay $15 to access the springs, which are clothing optional and 18 and older-only after dark.

Valley View Hot Springs, Moffat, Colorado
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Valley View Hot Springs | Moffat, Colorado

Valley View Hot Springs is a secluded wilderness resort in the San Luis Valley with plenty of gorgeous alpine areas for clothing-optional soaking. As well as a geothermally heated pool and hydroelectric sauna, a short but steep dirt path links access to more than half a dozen unique natural pools with warm water bubbling through the gravel floor — and, in one case, cascading from above — ranging from 93 to 107 degrees in temperature. A day visit costs $13-$15 depending on the season, while rates for accommodation, which include cabins and private rooms as well as car and tent sites, start at $10 per night.

Burgdorf Hot Springs, McCall, Idaho
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Burgdorf Hot Springs | McCall, Idaho

Nestled in the mountains of central Idaho, Burgdorf Hot Springs provides rustic mountain lodging and a hot spring-fed swimming pool maintained at 100 degrees year-round — even when the resort itself can be reached only by snowmobile. There are also two natural springs around 113 degrees and a partitioned shallow area for children. Access to the pools is free for overnight guests and costs $10 per day otherwise.

Gold Fork Hot Springs, Donnelly, Idaho
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Gold Fork Hot Springs | Donnelly, Idaho

Effectively splitting the difference between natural and manmade facilities, Gold Fork Hot Springs consists of six minimally developed pools flowing together through natural rock formations, with alkaline water temperatures ranging from 85 to 110 degrees. All-day admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for children and includes access to heated changing rooms, free storage lockers, a sandy kid’s pool, and geothermally heated sidewalks.

Kirkham Hot Springs, Lowman, Idaho
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Kirkham Hot Springs | Lowman, Idaho

Undeveloped but easily accessible, Kirkham Hot Springs consists of 10 riverside rock pools fed by steaming hot waterfalls, located just beside a National Forest campground off the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. They’re free to visit except for a $5 parking fee and can get crowded during the summer months.

Trail Creek Hot Springs, Valley County, Idaho
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Trail Creek Hot Springs | Valley County, Idaho

Trail Creek Hot Springs consists of two outdoor walled pools filled with 116‑degree spring water, both with valves to let in some cold river water. Located just 0.1 miles from the parking area off Highway 55, the pools are spacious but usually full of people during the warmer months, making winter perhaps the best — and certainly most scenic — time to visit Trail Creek.

Gold Strike Hot Springs, Boulder City, Nevada
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Gold Strike Hot Springs | Boulder City, Nevada

An hour’s drive and a world away from the Las Vegas Strip, the hike to Gold Strike Hot Springs makes you work for your relaxation. Though only about 2 miles one way, the trail descends 600 feet through red rock canyons using a series of eight 20-foot rope climbs that tend to make visiting an all-day event. You’re rewarded with a variety of soaking options including grottos, a steam cave, and a hot spring waterfall, plus an unfettered view of the Hoover Dam and cliff-jumping opportunities into the Colorado River. Due to dangerously high temperatures, the springs are closed from May through September.

Related: 36 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Las Vegas

Spencer Hot Springs, Austin, Nevada
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Spencer Hot Springs | Austin, Nevada

Located in the expansive Big Smoky Valley along Route 50, known as America’s loneliest road, Spencer Hot Springs is still worth the journey in spite of — or perhaps because of — its remoteness. It has three geothermal water sources, one natural and mud-bottomed and two piped into metal cattle troughs, called "cowboy tubs," which give visitors the ability to control the temperature of their soak.

Jemez Hot Springs, Jemez Springs, New Mexico
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Jemez Hot Springs | Jemez Springs, New Mexico

At Jemez Hot Springs, wildflower landscaping and terracotta banks enclose four pools fed by ancient, mineralized sea water from deep within the Valles Caldera volcanic preserve. Open only to those over 14 years old, the therapeutic waters range from 98 to 105 degrees and feature built-in seating or floating chairs to really settle in. Costs to soak start at $25 per person for an hour and top out at $75 for an all-day property pass.

Jordan Hot Springs, Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico
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Jordan Hot Springs | Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico

If you’re visiting the Native American cliff dwellings near Silver City and up for a long yet rewarding hike, a 7-mile walk from the TJ Corral trailhead will bring you to Jordan Hot Springs, a 3-foot deep pool heated to an agreeable 90 degrees. Even more accessible in the area is Light Feather Hot Springs, but the 130‑degree temperatures require rerouting some cold water from the adjacent river to make it comfortable. The NPS also advises against submerging your head here, too.

Manby Hot Springs, Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico
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Manby Hot Springs | Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico

You’ll feel like a real Westerner reaching Manby Hot Springs, a pair of sandy-bottomed pools neighboring an old stagecoach stop on the east bank of the Rio Grande. With water temperatures averaging 97 degrees, they’re reached by a remote drive along County Road B007 off Highway 522, followed by a 15- to 20‑minute downhill walk. The last stretch of road to reach the parking lot is best navigated slowly with a high-clearance vehicle.

Ten Thousand Waves Hot Springs, Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Ten Thousand Waves Hot Springs | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Modeled after Japan’s traditional ryokan inns, Ten Thousand Waves is a hot springs resort like no other in North America. Using water drawn and purified from a 900-foot deep well, it offers both communal and private outdoor hot tubs, which are maintained at 104 to 106 degrees and surrounded by meticulous natural landscaping. For non-resort guests, rates start at $37 for all-day access to the communal tubs and associated saunas.

Riverbend Hot Spring, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
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Truth or Consequences Hot Springs | Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Long known as simply “Hot Springs,” this small town two hours north of Albuquerque has a long history as a spa destination thanks to the hot thermal waters rising from a rift off the Rio Grande. While there are 10 commercial bathhouses, Riverbend Hot Springs provides the only open-air soaking option, offering four private and eight communal pools with temperatures ranging from 95 to 108 degrees right on the riverbanks. Access costs $12-15 for one hour or comes free with an overnight stay.

Bagby Hot Springs
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Bagby Hot Springs | Bagby, Oregon

From Bagby Trailhead, it takes just $5 and an easy 1.4-mile trek to visit Bagby Hot Springs, a collection of three rustic, clothing-optional bathhouses containing 14 cedar tubs in the verdant backcountry of Mount Hood National Forest. The water naturally occurs at a scorching 138 degrees, so there are buckets of cold water onsite to moderate the temperature to your liking. Be prepared for a wait time on summer weekends and holidays.

Boquillas Hot Springs, Big Bend National Park, Texas
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Boquillas Hot Springs | Big Bend National Park, Texas

A two-hour drive into one of the nation’s largest, most remote, and least visited national parks, Boquillas Hot Springs is a great place to soak in solitude. Also called Langford Hot Springs after the owner of a turn-of-the-century bathhouse whose remnants are still strewn about the area, the rock-enclosed spring sits where Tornillo Creek enters the Rio Grande, about a half-mile’s hike from the parking area. The mineral-laden waters stay a constant 105 degrees year-round and are free to visit after paying the park’s $30 vehicle admittance fee.

Related: Don't Miss 19 of America's Most Underrated National Parks

Fifth Water Hot Springs, Springville, Utah
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Fifth Water Hot Springs | Springville, Utah

From the Three Forks Trailhead in Diamond Fork Canyon, many people hike the 4.5 miles out and back to experience the scenic and popular Fifth Water Hot Springs. Right next to a waterfall, there are multiple pools to sit and soak in, with variable temperatures depending on where you sit and how you direct the water flows. Be prepared for crowds on warm weekends and icy conditions in winter, potentially warranting snowshoes or crampons.

Homestead Crater Hot Springs, Midway, Utah
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Homestead Crater Hot Springs | Midway, Utah

Crystal clear mineral waters from miles below the earth’s surface fill Homestead Crater, a 55-foot-tall, beehive-shaped limestone cave. Owned by the Homestead Resort, they’ve outfitted the surreal and serene natural sight with an access tunnel and custom-built decks to reach the 96-degree spring. A 40-minute soak costs $13-$16 depending on the day of the week, while they also offer snorkeling and scuba diving sessions for just a bit more, making Homestead the continental U.S.’ only destination to scuba in warm water.

Mount Baker Hot Springs, Concrete, Washington
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Mount Baker Hot Springs | Concrete, Washington

Surrounded by lush forest and stumps to sit on, these picturesque hot springs fill with mineralized water bubbling up from beneath volcanically active Mount Baker in the North Cascades. It’s reached via a quarter-mile walking trail, although the access road often closes in winter, with only a spray-painted rock that says “hot springs” to point the way. There are two clothing-optional pools that vary in temperature from warm to extremely hot.

Goldmyer Hot Springs, North Bend, Washington
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Goldmyer Hot Springs | North Bend, Washington

Goldmyer Hot Springs consist of four outdoor pools in the Cascadian foothills outside Seattle, requiring a 4.5-mile hike and advance reservations to visit. With only 20 visitors allowed per day, you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with privacy and comfortable backcountry amenities, including an open-air cabana, picnic tables, and well-equipped campsites. There are four clothing-optional geothermal pools, one cold and three naturally heated, surrounded by old-growth forest in a 20-acre wilderness preserve.

Olympic Hot Springs, Elwha, Washington
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Olympic Hot Springs | Elwha, Washington

For a more rustic soaking experience within the sprawling Olympic National Park, there are 21 unmaintained shallow hot springs, or “seeps,” located off the 2.5-mile Appleton Pass Trail and surrounded by beautiful native forest. While winter road closures can add up to 4 miles to the hike, it’s better to visit not during the summer high season, when the pools can become crowded and have a higher risk of bacteria.

Scenic Hot Springs, Skykomish, Washington
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Scenic Hot Springs | Skykomish, Washington

Once an upscale lodge destination off the Great Northern Railway, these hot springs were closed to the public in 2001 but have been reopened under private ownership and host up to 10 visitors per day. After applying online for permission and paying a $10 fee, visitors receive directions and face a steep ascent off of Highway 2 to reach a trio of man-made but naturally heated tubs surrounded by evergreen forest.

Sol Duc Hot Springs, Ovington, Washington
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Sol Duc Hot Springs | Ovington, Washington

In a lush rainforest valley, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers three hot mineral pools, filled with runoff from rain and snowmelt that’s heated by volcanic gasses rising from the earth. Man-made but still enclosed by natural scenery, the pools cost $15 for adults’ daily access or $11 for a two-hour twilight pass to the man-made pools. For accommodations, the resort has cabin rentals and 82 first-come, first-served campsites that are open from March to October.

Boiling River, Mammoth, Wyoming
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Boiling River | Mammoth, Wyoming

Boiling River is one of two legal swimming areas in Yellowstone National Park, and the only one with waters warmed by the area’s volcanic activity. Wading in at the confluence of the Gardner River and Boiling River hot spring, visitors can find their own spot where the hot and cold flows mix just right. As in the rest of the national park, crowds are to be expected — including the occasional herd of elk or bison — and admittance costs $25 per vehicle.

Granite Hot Springs, Jackson, Wyoming
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Granite Hot Springs | Jackson, Wyoming

In the Gros Ventre Mountains south of Wyoming’s ritziest tourist town, Granite Hot Springs offers low-key access to the area’s healing geothermal waters, with both a natural spring bath and manmade pool. Daily admittance costs $8 per adult or $5 per child, and the Granite Creek Campground nearby has 51 sites charging $15 for an overnight stay. In winter, the facilities remain open but are accessible only via snowmobile, dog sled, or cross-country skis.

Hot Springs State Park, Thermopolis, Wyoming
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Hot Springs State Park | Thermopolis, Wyoming

A couple hours from Yellowstone, this day-use park along the Bighorn River features similarly colorful terraces, over which more than 8,000 gallons of 128‑degree mineral water flow each day. A free bathhouse on Tepee Street maintains an indoor and outdoor pool cooled to 104 degrees for visitors to enjoy and soothe their muscles between hikes.