Hike to Magical Waterfall Hot Springs

Is there anything better than a natural hot spring with waterfalls? We think not. Just north of Challis, ID, you will find one of the most picturesque hot springs in the United States, Goldbug. There are over 130 hot springs that are fit for bathing in Idaho, and Goldbug might be one of the best of them. Though it is a popular destination, there is plenty of space to find your own private oasis. In this post we’ll tell you how to get there, where to stay, and what to expect from the hike and soak!

Soaking in Goldbug Hot Springs
Queen of the Hot Springs

Getting There

This Hot Springs are pretty far away from other attractions which adds to their appeal. If you are coming from the Sawtooths, you will have about a two hour drive. Goldbug Hot Springs is located 20 minutes north of Challis, ID and 20 minutes south of Salmon, ID. The trailhead is accessed just off Highway 93 at mile marker 282. The trailhead is on a residential road so please be respectful and park appropriately.

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Where to Stay

If you have a tent with you, we highly recommend camping near the hot springs. Camping is prohibited within 500 feet of the springs but there are multiple primitive campsites on the hike in, as well as past the springs. The star gazing in Idaho is incredible so be sure to peak up at the sky after dark. You can soak in the springs past dark and jump in early in the morning to have them all to yourselves. If you opt to camp at one of the primitive campsites, always pack out all your trash. Bury all human waste and ensure you are 200 feet from a water source before doing your business. Put your fires dead out, drown them with water until you can touch the coals with your bare hands. Following these simple rules will keep this place beautiful and accessible for all. In addition to the primitive campsites, there it also plenty of BLM land along the Salmon River for boondocking. If you require hookup for your rig, there are two established campgrounds north of the trailhead in Elk Bend.

Soaking in Goldbug Hot Springs
Soaking in the warmest pool at the top

The Hike

The hike to the Hot Springs is 2 miles with 1,350 feet of elevation gain, it is definitely a thigh burner. The first 1/4 mile is on private property on an easement from the Bureau of Land Management. Be sure to be respectful and leave no trace so we can keep these lands open for all. The hike starts out in a few switchbacks before evening out for a bit. The last half mile is the steepest with several sets of stairs. Soon you will be rewarded with the first site of the hot springs pools. Jump right into the first one you see, or keep hiking higher for warmer pools. We love AllTrails to get detailed maps and current trails reports. Checkout this link to save the trail for future reference.

Soaking at Goldbug Hot Springs
Admiring the view from the hot springs
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The Hot Springs

Nestled among the mountains, the springs cascade over the cliff side. There are six large pools and some smaller pools, each varying in temperature, the hottest being about 113 degrees. The springs are hotter towards the top and cooler as you descend. Pick your pool and enjoy some well-earned relaxation! Be sure to explore other pools as well, the pools at the bottom have a unique waterfall chute that is like a massage chair! Towards the top of the hot springs there is a bridge to get to the other side, there are some larger pools on this side for big groups.

Soaking in Goldbug Hot Springs
Enjoying the waterfall chute

As you can see, Goldbug Hot Springs is a can’t miss destination. It is well worth the effort to get here. If you’re planning a trip to Idaho, make sure this location is on your list! Now get out there and Create Your Own Roadshow! Subscribe below for more bucket list locations, van life, and travel tips!

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