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Western Hot Springs

A father and child show that soaking in hot springs is pleasure for all generations.
Photo caption
A father and child show that soaking in hot springs is pleasure for all generations.

What weary explorer doesn't enjoy a good, hot soak? Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery did when they crossed the Rockies in 1805 and 1806. Here are some hot springs they visited, east to west, with a few they'd likely seek out if they were to make the trip again.

  • Jackson Hot Springs Lodge Jackson, Mont. William Clark suggested his men cook game in a boiling spring here on the expedition's return. The modern pool is too cool for that—try the rack of lamb in the restaurant. (406) 834- 3151.
  • Lost Trail Hot Springs Resort Sula, Mont. The corps had a rough time in the Bitterroots on what is now the Idaho border, but today's travelers can warm themselves in the natural mineral pool before retiring to the lodge. (800) 825- 3574,
  • Lolo Hot Springs Lolo, Mont. Meriwether Lewis noted that local Indians enjoyed dashing into the ice-cold creek here before plunging back into the 100-plus-degree water, though he didn't join them. Modern-day visitors can choose among the resort's indoor pool, its outdoor pool, and the place that even Lewis dared not go. (800) 273-2290,
  • Jerry Johnson, Weir Creek, and Stanley Hot Springs Clearwater National Forest, Idaho. Sgt. Patrick Gass called the Bitterroot Range "the most terrible mountains that I ever beheld." The corps might have fared better had they known of these three backcountry spots off Highway 12. But fair warning: Certain of today's adventurers do their bathing sans suits. (208) 476-4541,
  • Carson Mineral Hot Springs Resort Carson, Wash. Dip in enameled claw-foot tubs at this old-time resort on the Wind River. The corps dubbed it Cruzatte's River after Pvt. Pierre Cruzatte, who mistook Lewis for an elk and shot him in the rump. (800) 607-3678,

Photography by Janie Osborne

This article was first published in March 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.