Five Natural Hot Springs Near Bozeman, Montana!
Get ready, the two coldest months of Montana’s unforgivable winter is fast approaching. But Montanan’s aren’t worried, there have been much worse winters. In fact, Montana’s winters have been getting less and less extreme, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cold to our beloved out-of-staters! So when visiting Montana this winter, to help stay warm why not check out one of the sixty hot springs you can find in the Big Sky Country?
Hot springs are typically heated in one of two ways. The first is by coming in contact with molten rock found in volcanic regions. Water that comes into contact with magma can reach temperatures high enough to boil it, or cause it to become superheated and produce geysers. However, a majority of hot springs around the world are heated by geothermal energy. Geothermal energy comes from the formation of the planet as well as radioactive decay. Radioactive decay is the process of an unstable nucleus of an unstable element losing some of its particles until it becomes a more stable element. The mantle of the Earth has many unstable elements, including potassium-40, uranium-238 and -235, and thorium-232, and somewhere between 45 to 90 percent of the heat escaping the Earth comes from there. Bozeman is in the Southwest region of Montana and has some of the best hot springs in the state. Check out these top five hot springs near Bozeman and one that’s on the way!
Bozeman Hot Springs
The hot springs that are closest to the city of Bozeman, is its very own hot springs! Bozeman Hot Springs has been a local favorite for over a hundred years. Founded by Jeremiah Mathews is 1879, a full ten years before Montana was even a state, the Bozeman Hot Springs have been a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike! In 1890, the second owner turned the pools into a resort as well. Today, these naturally fed hot springs are home to the beautiful Bozeman Hot Springs Campground, a fitness center and of course the hot springs themselves! The Bozeman Hot Springs are home to 12 different pools ranging from 59°-106°, both indoor and outdoor. They are also home to wet and dry saunas, as well as an outdoor stage where they host local bands.
Bozeman Hot Springs is located on Gallatin Road in Bozeman, Montana. The facility is about 15-20 minutes from Bozeman, which is less than 10 miles. Simply follow Huffine Lane to Four Corners, turn left onto Gallatin Road towards Big Sky, and it will be on your right.
Norris Hot Springs
Sometimes things worth the wait, and Norris Hot Springs are definitely worth the extra thirty minutes to get there. Norris Hot Springs is home to the “Water of the Gods”, a series of artesian springs that average 120°. In the early 1860s, a group of miners working in the area found the springs and decided to turn them into their own personal hot spring. They cut down some trees and used the fir planks to cover the bubbling spring water. They then stacked the planks up along the side to create a pool that was four feet deep. The pool slopes gently and at the end, you can still see the large ball valve that acts as the drain even today. The pool was about 30’ x 40’ and could hold 38,000 gallons of water. The springs passed through ownership, acting as a bathhouse for families without water at first. However, the key that let people past the new fence was lost over time. During the 1960s people would still visit the hot springs, after, all they were only a fence hop away. In 1972, Doris and Mike Zankowski of New Jersey purchased the hot springs and the twenty-one acres surrounding the area. They opened the hot springs at $5 a person, and to bring in the crowds they hosted a weekly Nudie Night. Today Nudie Night is sadly no more, but they do have a stage for live music, a snack bar where you can eat pizza and soak, and a breathtaking view of the Bear Trap Canyon.
Norris Hot Springs is located on MT-84 in Norris, Montana. The springs are about 40-45 minutes from Bozeman, about 35.5 miles. Simply follow Huffine Lane to Four Corners, continue going straight until the road turns into MT-84 towards Norris and it will be on your left.
Chico Hot Springs
Chico Hot Springs. Photo Courtesy of Chico Hot Springs
If you’re looking to soak in style then Chico Hot Springs is the perfect place for you! Chico Hot Springs was founded in 1900 by Bill and Percie Knowles. Chico Hotel started as a place for miners working in Emigrant Gulch to get away from the stressful day-to-day grind. The grand opening was a big affair with a brass band, a ball and lots of food. The food, warm beds, and warmer hot springs became popular overnight and soon the rooms available doubled. Soon the Chico Hotel grew to a two-story building and offered a full-service dining hall, a forty-foot hot spring, a dance hall built by Bill, lawn activities, and a carriage ride to shuttle you from the train station to the hotel. When Bill passed away Percie took full ownership of Chico. She hired Doctor George A. Townsend to attest to the healing properties of the spring. Together they built a twenty-room hospital wing in 1914. By now the hotel could host upwards of 60 people. The hospital was popular while it lasted, one of the first brain surgeries of the region happened there, but Dr. Townsend retired in 1925. Percie retired shortly after and her son, Radbourne, sold the property in 1948.
Chico Hot Springs. Photo Courtesy of Chico Hot Springs
Chico passed through many hands over the years and became many things. From a church camp to a ranch house to more before falling into disrepair. In 1973 the Art family rescued the decrepit resort and began to turn it into the beautiful resort we know and love today. After forty years of success, the Art family sold Chico to the current owners, the Davis family. Today Chico Hot Springs boasts a wide range of amenities. From countless sleeping arrangement options to a poolside grill, to outdoor activities like horseback riding, Chico has a lot to offer. The best part? The warm Montana welcome you get paired expertly with a breathtaking view of the Crazy, Absaroka, and Gallatin Mountain Ranges and the claim that when you visit Chico, you’re only a stranger once.
Chico Hot Springs is located in Paradise Valley, south of Livingston, Montana. The springs are about 50 minutes to an hour from Bozeman, just under 50 miles. Simply hop onto I-90 East and follow the interstate to Livingston. Take Exit 333 to Livingston, Mt and US-89 S towards Pray, Montana. Turn left onto Mill Creek Road and then right onto US Highway 540 and the springs will be just ahead!
Potosi Hot Springs
Smaller and farther away, the Potosi Hot Springs will feel like your own secret spring! Potosi Hot Springs are located 6.6 miles outside of the tiny Montana town of Pony. This beautiful little hot spring is the perfect weekend get away, especially if you share the belief that more often than not, “less is more”. Potosi Hot Springs was originally discovered by some more miners looking to warm up and unwind after working underground all day. And since the miner’s first put the walls around the hot spring pool, Potosi hasn't changed a thing. A deck has been added, and trails lead from the large pool up to a smaller indoor pool, but the hot spring is still the same gurgling water from the early 1890s. Four beautiful little cabins have been added to the Potosi Hot Springs, each one themed after a beloved Montana animal. The large pool stays at a semi-consistent 92° while the small upper pool averages 102° year round.
Upper Potosi Spring. Photo Courtesy of Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Feeling adventurous? About a mile before the campground there is a secret third pool. The Upper Potosi Spring is a small and unregulated pool. It has dirt walls with a small wooden fence to help prevent nocturnal spring-seekers from finding the spring the hard way. Be careful hunting for the Mud Spring, wildlife is abundant in Montana and seeing a moose while camping or hiking is likely. The trail is unmarked as well, it’s highly recommended you visit with someone who has already been and knows where it is.
Potosi Hot Springs are located on Potosi Road just outside of Pony, Montana. The springs are about an hour and fifteen minutes from Bozeman, roughly 60 miles. Simply follow Huffine Lane all the way to Four Corners. Go Straight and take MT-84 toward Norris, Montana. Once you hit Norris, turn right onto US Highway 287. Turn left onto Shaw Lane and then another left onto Norwegian Creek road before turning left again onto Potosi Road. The springs will be just up ahead.
Boiling River. Photo Courtesy of Yingwu Wang from Google Photos
For a wild and rustic hot spring experience, look no further than the Boiling River in Yellowstone National Park. The Boiling River is a small section of the Gardner River where the icy waters meet with some of Yellowstone’s boiling hot springs. The superheated water that bubbles up from underneath Yellowstone is too hot for anyone to touch, and the water in the Gardner River is too cold in the winter months. But for a small stretch, the two extremes meet and create the perfect hot spring experience. The Boiling River is available almost all year, closing only in the spring due to runoff and overflow. The Boiling River is within Yellowstone National Park, so all park rules apply and alcohol is forbidden. However, it’s worth it when you have to hike past a herd of buffalo, or when a herd of elk decides to join you for a soak in the warm waters.
The Boiling River is located in Yellowstone National Park and just outside of Gardiner, Montana. The river is about an hour and a half from Bozeman, just over 80 miles. To get there hop onto I-90 East and head towards Livingston. Take Exit 333 in Livingston and get onto US-89 S towards Gardiner, Montana. The Boiling River is located about three miles south of the Roosevelt Arch at the North entrance to Yellowstone National Park on US 89. As you near the potential location, look for a sign that says “45th Parallel of Latitude Halfway Between Equator and North Pole.” Keep heading south but keep an eye out for a parking lot on the left side, if it’s full there is one on the right side as well. After that follow the signs to the trail and Boiling river, or better yet, just follow the big cloud of steam!
Bonus: Yellowstone Hot Springs
Yellowstone Hot Springs. Image Courtesy of Martine Griffiths
Back in 1889 Julius LaDuke, a French-Canadian immigrant opened the LaDuke Hot Springs. They were a series of pools along the Yellowstone River that were fed by natural underground hot springs. In 1900, Dr. Frank Corwin had the Corwin Springs Hotel constructed at the site. The main attraction was the 30’ x 50’ pool that was filled using the LaDuke Hot Springs. However, the Hotel burned down in 1916 and only the pools and fireplace remain.
However, that’s all about to change! On August 15 of 2019, people will once again get to enjoy the wonderful healing waters of the LaDuke Hot Springs. The Yellowstone Hot Springs, located in Corwin Springs, Montana is a brand new facility. The Yellowstone Hot Springs is owned by the Royal Teton Ranch and will be located just six miles North of Gardiner. The Yellowstone Hot Springs will feature a 3,750 sq ft pool that will have an average temperature of 102°, a hot plunge that will average 104° and a cold plunge that will average 70°. The Yellowstone Hot Springs will also have a special wading pool called a Kneipp Walk, which alternates hot and cold water to help stimulate better blood circulation. The water will be pumped a mile and a half from the LaDuke Hot Springs. The Yellowstone Hot Springs have plans to include more amenities in the future, with eyes set on refreshment stands, lodging, and live entertainment.
The Yellowstone Hot Springs will be roughly one hour away from Bozeman, which is nearly 70 miles. It will be located along US-89, across the Yellowstone River from the Lighthouse Restaurant.
So slip into some soothing waters, feel your stress wash away, and appreciate the breathtaking Montana beauty around you! Wherever you choose to soak you are guaranteed a warm Montana experience. Whether you go near or far, big or small there is a hot spring that is perfect for you!
By: Issa Rabideaux
Cover Photo Credit goes to Potosi Hot Springs LLC on Facebook