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Soothing Hot Springs

The West boasts some of the country's finest natural mineral waters with sweeping views and waterfalls.

A couple enjoys a good soaking in Crystal Hot Springs’ mineral-laden waters.
Photo caption
A couple enjoys a good soaking in Crystal Hot Springs’ mineral-laden waters.

Is there a better way to chase away the gray-sky blues than by taking a therapeutic dip in hot, natural mineral waters? The West boasts some of the country’s best cold-season soaks. The scenery? You can’t beat it.

Chena Hot Springs Resort
Northeast of Fairbanks, soakers relax in a rock-rimmed pool at 106 degrees and watch the northern lights dance with the stars. Auroras are recorded in that area on average 243 nights a year, though not typically in summer. For a taste of winter in any season, check out the resort’s year-round ice museum, replete with a spiral staircase made of ice. (907) 451-8104,


Vichy Springs Resort
It’s fizzy fun a morning’s drive north of San Francisco, where visitors stretch out in 150-year-old cement bathtubs enjoyed by Mark Twain and Jack London for the relaxing effect of the carbonated mineral waters. (707) 462-9515,


Kirkham Hot Springs
“My favorite time to soak is during a snowstorm,” says Boise National Forest’s Elena Miller, who often visits these natural springs along Idaho’s South Fork of the Payette River. Look for warmth-seeking deer, elk, and river otters. (208) 259-3361,


Bozeman Hot Springs
Nine soaks, ranging from 59 to 106 degrees, make this Montana resort a pool hopper’s heaven. (406) 586-6492, Or try the roomy, spring-fed pool at Chico Hot Springs Resort north of Yellowstone National Park. (406) 333-4933,


1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa
In the 1800s, the geothermal waters south of Carson City, Nev., were said to cure “rheumatism and scrofulous affections.” Today, the pools soothe the sore muscles of après-ski crowds from Lake Tahoe. (775) 782-8155,


Summer Lake Hot Springs
At this rustic southern Oregon retreat, soakers take in gorgeous valley views while relaxing under the stars in rock-lined outdoor pools. A 1920s timber-frame bathhouse holds a spring-fed swimming pool. (541) 943-3931,


Crystal Hot Springs
In view of snowcapped mountains near Honeyville, Utah, soakers warm up in a kidney-shaped pool with 100-degree, mineral-laden water, a 110-degree waterfall, and island benches. The resort also offers several hot tub–style pools of 102 to 104 degrees. (435) 279-8104,


Granite Hotsprings
Pool Jagged Wyoming peaks look close enough to touch at this site on national forest land south of Jackson. The 10-mile ride in, by snowmobile or dogsled in cold months, is half the fun. The springs close on April 7 for the snowmelt and reopen around May 20. Call for road conditions. (307) 734-7400,

Photography by Don Frank

This article was first published in November 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.