Goldbug Hot Springs are the kind of thing you talk about while visiting OTHER hot springs. After you’ve been here, nothing will compare. I’ll be the first to say that even pictures don’t do this place justice, and I thought the pictures themselves looked pretty great. Also, the entire time I was driving and doing the hike, I kept thinking to myself, “Man, this is so not worth it.” But when I was sitting in the warm pools of natural spring water and staring out at a breathtaking view, I thought, “Wow. That was so worth it.”
The drive to Goldbug Hot Springs is about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Rexburg. Then, add about an hour and a half for the hike up to the Hot Springs. But holy cow is it worth it! This has got to be one of the best kept secrets in Idaho. After visiting Green Canyon, Heise Hot Springs, and Lava Hot Springs, I thought that I had gotten my fill. I was definitely wrong.
Goldbug is located about fifteen minutes outside of Salmon, Idaho. The trail to the hot springs gets started here in a small parking lot just off Highway 93. The two-mile trail initially skirts through private property (so please be courteous), but soon travels through public land. As the trail traverses through the countryside, it becomes increasingly beautiful. It follows a small stream all the way to the mouth of the hot springs. Even if nobody had promised me hot springs at the end of this hike, the trail would itself make a great excursion. The beginning switchbacks and final stretches of the hike are the most strenuous, climbing steep hills and rocks, but the reward waiting at the end makes it all worthwhile. I’d consider myself to be in moderately good condition, and I’d give this hike an 8/10 on the difficulty scale. My legs felt like Jello at the top. The descent was much easier.
The Goldbug Hot Springs consist of a collection of five or six large and shallow pools, with four or five smaller and deeper pools. This comes complete with waterfalls and a view of an unforgettable valley landscape. The pools are of varying temperatures; warmer nearer the source, cooler further down, but never too hot nor too cold. The waterfalls really are the crowning touch. I sat underneath one for about five minutes, just letting the hot water pound my shoulders and neck. Even if there are other large groups of people visiting the hot springs, the number of pools almost guarantees some privacy.
Walking back to the cars in the evening, it was pitch black and the view of the stars was incredible. If you’re into astrophotography, this is the place to do it.
While we didn’t camp or stay the night, we passed numerous people pitching tents and spending the night. If you’re into that kind of thing, this looks to be just about as good a place as any.
Map from Rexburg:
- Leave Rexburg, heading West on main street, as if you were driving to R-Mountain or Beaver Dick Park (Highway 33).
- Take the exit to the right onto Highway 28. You’ll stay on this road for about 180 miles.
- Coming into the small town of Salmon, ID, you’ll come to a four-way stop with some gas stations and Burger King on your right side. Turn left onto Highway 93.
- Approximately 22 miles down the road, you’ll turn left onto “Warm Springs Road”. If I remember correctly, there isn’t a street sign, but it’s soon after mile marker 282.
- Drive until the end of the road, where it will dead end. Get out, and begin your hike!