When I think of heaven on earth, mountains are the first things to pop into my mind. Water is another feature that comes to mind, especially cascading water -- crystal clear flowing water in streams, rivers, waterfalls, etc. Sunsets and sunrises are also on the top of that list. Honestly anything in nature denotes magnificence and pure creation! This next spot combines my love of nature with my fascination in geology.
Goldbug Hot Springs is located in Lemhi county in the Salmon-Challis National Forest along the northwestern edge of the Lemhi Range. Six spring-fed pools are connected by a series of waterfalls and flow into a small stream into the valley below. Heated deep below the surface, the temperature of the pools range some but average around 110 degrees F. I personally prefer to visit the springs in January, during the coldest time of the year, because there is nothing like bathing in a hot pool with your hair frosted with snow and the warm mist distorting the low sun on the horizon. The cold temperatures contrast well with the warm water. You can visit all year round, but during the summer months, the pool temperatures make the overall hike and experience muggy and humid. For those southerners out there, this could be a taste of home! So, it's all preference.
The spring is about 3 hours away from Rexburg, easily accessed by the highway that heads northwest towards Salmon, ID. For exact directions, Google, AllTrails, and other sites can easily direct you. Just be careful pulling into the dirt road towards the parking lot, as you don't want to turn early and have a shotgun pointed at you by the nice old guy in the adjacent house.
The hike to the hot springs is a little less than 2 miles one way. It gets steep beginning with switchbacks immediately then later turning into a serious of steppes and steep trails/stairs. During the winter this can become treacherous, but completely doable. Of every group I have taken or gone with, every person has made it, given enough time, patience, and wisdom. The springs do get busy on weekends and holidays. I highly recommend getting there early, like 7am early, to beat the crowds that can gather even on weekdays depending on the time of the year. It is not uncommon to share the bigger pools with others you don't know, but out of the last 5 times I have gone, 4 of those times my friends and I had a pool to ourselves for at least part of the time. People I have met up there are really chill, and honestly, really interesting to talk to! Changing can be a challenge, so remember to bring towels, wear a swimsuit under your hiking/snow clothes, and don't be afraid of changing in an unconventional environment! There is a bathroom at the base of the trail, but nothing at the top, so keep that in mind. Don't try making that water any warmer lol.
I love this hike, it is among my top favorites! Everything, from the drive, to the hike, to soaking in the healing springs, to the scenery, wildlife, picture-perfect views, etc., makes this hike very memorable and for some a once in a lifetime opportunity!
I have seen elk, deer, and mountain goats in the area. Wolves have been reportedly seen in the Salmon area, so I imagine they do visit this valley. Be aware, be safe, and have fun!
For more information about this hike or others, feel free to reach out! Here are a few pictures from a couple of my recent trips there, enjoy!!