Ski-In Hot Springs of the Pacific Northwest
Sacajawea Hot Springs
The hot spring: A series of springs and pools along the edge of the South Fork Payette River, with temperatures up to 108 degrees. Elevation 5,000 feet.
The Skiing: This is a popular area for cross-country skiing, and Sacajawea Hot Springs is less accessible in the wintertime than Bonneville Hot Springs, which is closer to the road.
Location: About 60 miles northeast of Boise in the Boise National Forest, Lowman Ranger District. (See Delorme Idaho Atlas & Gazeteer, p. 36.)
How to get there: From Lowman, head NE on State Route 21 (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway) for 21 miles. Two miles past Warm Spring Creek, turn night on Forest Road 524 (Grandjean Road). The road is closed in the winter, so you should park at this point and ski the rest of the way. After about 4.5 miles, you'll come to Wapiti Creek junction. Continue on FR 524 for about 0.6 miles, then climb down the rocks to the pools along the river.
Bonneville Hot Springs
The hot spring: Bonneville, which is a little closer to Lowman than Sacajawea Hot Springs, offers a large soaking pool and a string of hotter pools downstream. Its amenities include private bathing in a bathhouse, and a campground nearby with toilet facilities. Because it's so close to this family campground, swimsuits are required, except in the bathhouse, even in the winter. Elevation: 4,700 feet.
The skiing: Bonneville is just off the Bonneville Nordic Cross-Country Ski Trail, one mile from the trailhead. Since it's close to the road, the spring is very popular, even in the winter, but because it's so close to the nordic trail (and accessible from it), we've included it anyway.
Location: About 60 miles northeast of Boise in the Boise National Forest, Lowman Ranger District. (See Delorme Idaho Atlas & Gazeteer, p. 36.) How to get there: From Lowman, head NE on State Route 21 (Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway) for 19 miles, to Bonneville Campground. Park your car. From the far end of the parking lot, there's a trail along Warm Spring Creek. The hot springs are about a quarter-mile north.
The hot spring: As its name suggests, this is a very hot spring, much too hot to bathe in near the source, but cooler as the outflow collects at the base of a cliff and flows across a meadow. This area is popular with snowmobilers, so you can expect to have company, especially on weekends. There is a campground with an outhouse nearby, but it may be blocked by snow in the winter. Elevation: 4,000 feet.
The skiing: About 17 miles along a gently-sloped road that's been groomed for snowmobiles, but is wide enough so that you won't have to ski in the snowmobile tracks. This is a long enough ski that you may want to ski in one day and out the next. The cabins and campgrounds in this area are not open in the winter: this is wilderness winter camping only.
Location: North of Boise, in Boise National Forest. (See Delorme Idaho Atlas & Gazeteer, pp. 35 and 43.)
How to get there: Take State Route 55 (the Payette River Scenic Route) north from Boise. At Banks, turn right onto the Garden Valley Road. Drive about eight miles, then take a left onto Forest Road 698. Proceed to the trailhead parking lot, which is well-used by snowmobilers. Follow Forest Road 698, for 17 miles, to Boiling Springs.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication