Montana Hot Springs: Seven Recommendations from Actual Montanans
Does Montana have hot springs? You bet! Which one is pictured above? Read.
But first, one thing you don’t do in a “Montana hot springs” blog post is blab the location of Montana’s “natural” hot springs. No blog should answer questions like, “Where are the hot springs in Yellowstone?” One must, ahem, go forth, talk to friends, and discover the NATURAL ones on your own in the name of keeping the experience from being a crowded mess. And this don’t-blab-the-location-rule rule also applies to hunting blogs and fishing blogs. (Check those links to see our blogs about those.)
So, this post is all about seven of Montana’s “commercial” hot springs. You’ll find something to love about each of them. Pick one you like, read the reviews, good and bad, understand you might be signed up for “quirky,” relax, and enjoy.
Norris Hot Springs
West of Bozeman, Montana …
Long ago, before Norris Hot Springs served veggies from their own garden and focused on locally sourced salsa, beef, baked goodies, and more, I ventured out with college buddies to Norris, Montana on a cold November night, looking for a hot springs party.
We found it, sort of. After we got in the dimly lit water, we realized the swimsuits-optional nature of the evening: it was nude night, and I may never again mingle with so many naked cowboys and cowgirls in one dark, beer-spiked pool. Not only that, the water was only luke warm thanks to the sub-zero, freezing wind. Nobody but us seemed to care, and you could say this car load of college kids actually felt a little outclassed by the gettin’-Western frenzy in the pool
Old Pointer says: Nothing wrong with a little “nude night” once in a while!
Today, this is a fun, family-friendly operation. Visit Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, then hit Norris for a soak, burger, beer, maybe a shot of whiskey, and an amazing salad from their garden.
Chico Hot Springs
North of Yellowstone National Park in Montana’s remote Paradise Valley is a Montana institution: Chico Hot Springs. It will prove to be worth the stop.
When I was a kid, I’d tip over with excitement if my parents decided on a weekend treat at Chico. Fine dining, a variety of accommodations, and a luxurious pool make Chico a highly desirable stop for many Montana couples and families. “We went to Chico this weekend!”
Feeling ambitious? Climb Paradise Valley’s prominent Emigrant Peak nearby, then celebrate at the Chico Saloon.
Elkhorn Hot Springs
Near Dillon, Montana …
Rustic! If you don’t like a bug or two floating on the water, then you need to cowboy up! Take a dip in the pools, lounge in the sauna, then grab a burger and a whiskey in the lodge. This is the perfect follow-up to a day of souvenir digging for quartz crystals at Crystal Park on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. A drive over the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway between the Big Hole Valley and the Elkhorn Hot Springs, to get to the digging and the springs, can’t be beat either. (Pssst … elk don’t have horns … they have antlers.)
Symes Hot Springs
West of Flathead Lake in northwest Montana …
Party! Clean and friendly, hit this Mission-style, historic landmark during the Hot Springs Rodeo in June or the Standing Arrow Pow Wow in July nearby in Elmo, Montana on the shores of Flathead Lake. The later it gets, the louder it gets!
Boulder Hot Springs
Between Helena and Butte, Montana and pictured above …
If yoga and an alcohol-free environment are more your style (and hey, Montana Whiskey Co. won’t hold it against you), you’ll want to visit Boulder Hot Springs. The buildings here date from 1863 and a hell of a lot of work has gone into fixing it up. They’re beautiful! Pay a visit to the indoor plunges and the outdoor pool, then head for the Windsor Bar on nearby Boulder, Montana’s Main Street, 2.5 miles to the north on Highway 69, if you need a celebratory beverage.
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs Resort
On the Montana Hi-Line near Saco, Montana …
With camping and remodeled cabins available along with a deluxe pool, this Montana Hi-Line hot springs is a must-stop in Montana’s vast northeast. Check in with Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs Resort’s frequently updated Facebook page.
Fairmont Hot Springs
Near Anaconda, Montana …
Like Chico Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs is another Montana institution that most Montana families have a fun story about. Ski Discovery Ski Area in the winter, then hit the hot pools in the evening. In the summer, hit the little white ball at Old Works Golf Course or explore the caves at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park (a short hour drive away) before the perfect dip at Fairmont and a shot of whiskey and music at Whiskey Joe’s Lounge.
How many hot springs are there in Montana?
We count 21 total commercial hot springs in Montana with five total in the town of Hot Springs, Montana, not surprisingly! Here’s the other 14.
- Alameda’s Hot Springs Retreat, Hot Springs, Montana
- Big Medicine Hot Springs, Hot Springs, Montana
- Bozeman Hot Springs, Bozeman, Montana
- Broadwater Hot Springs, Helena, Montana
- Jackson Hot Springs, Jackson, Montana
- K Bar L Ranch and Medicine Springs, Augusta, Montana
- Lolo Hot Springs, Lolo, Montana
- Lost Trail Hot Springs, Sula, Montana
- Potosi Hot Springs, Pony, Montana
- Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, Paradise, Montana
- Rose’s Plunge, Hot Springs, Montana
- Spa Hot Springs Motel and Clinic, White Sulphur Springs, Montana
- Wild Horse Hot Springs, Hot Springs, Montana
- Yellowstone Hot Springs, Gardiner, Montana
Get out and enjoy them all!
Top image: Boulder Hot Springs “Labeled for noncommercial reuse.”