Goldbug Hot Springs

Goldbug Hot Springs

posted in: Hiking, Water | 23

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.

Goldbug Hot Springs 1

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Trailhead Coordinates:

Latitude: 44.8982
Longitude: -113.957

Map from Rexburg:


  1. Leave Rexburg, heading West on main street, as if you were driving to R-Mountain or Beaver Dick Park (Highway 33).
  2. Take the exit to the right onto Highway 28. You’ll stay on this road for about 180 miles.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Drive until the end of the road, where it will dead end. Get out, and begin your hike!

23 Responses

  1. The water isnt actually very hot. Its more of a warm spring than a hot spring. Don’t go if its cold. Or at night. Or early morning. Or if it’s windy. Also this really isn’t in Rexburg over 2 hours away? Come on.

    • matheson

      Rexburgfun is devoted to fun things to do in AND AROUND Rexburg. Even at two hours away, I know many people from Rexburg who have made this trip. When you’re bored enough, it’s well worth the trip.

  2. Stephen morse

    Hey how do I contribute to this site? I’ve done a lot of sweet trips that I would like to share with others, and rather than create my own blog it might be easier to just add to yours.

    • matheson

      Hi Stephen,
      We are ALWAYS accepting help. Anything you can provide to make our articles better is greatly accepted. Pictures, information, or even new activities that aren’t listed on our website. You can send me an email at or use the Contact Form on this site to submit information. Thanks for your help.

  3. I’m visiting Idaho for the summer for an internship for 3 months from Colorado.. I found your site when I googled things to do in Rexburg. Goldbug was the first on my list of hikes to do and I finally did it yesterday. It’s quite a drive, more like 2.5 hrs long. The parking lot is kinda hard to find, I passed it the first time, so maybe mention a better way to find the road to the parking lot?

    I would say this trail is closer to a 5/10, only because of that steep beginning and end. I wasn’t able to stay at the pools long, a storm was rolling in. It’s a long drive back to Rexburg, especially with all the prairie dogs trying to cross the highway.

  4. As an Idaho native, I’ve been going to Gold Bug for many years. It used to be a locals-only, beautiful, private, and practically untouched hot springs. In recent years people have posted it’s location on websites such as this and traffic has increased significantly. If you choose to visit Gold Bug please be respectful, you have to cross private property to access the springs and if the current trend of huge groups going in and trashing things continues then the property owners will rescind their permission and everyone loses.

  5. Is this something you can do in Winter?

    • Absolutely! In fact, it might actually be better in the Winter. Be careful, however, as the last part of the hike is up a fairly decent incline going over rocks and loose gravel. If there’s a lot of ice/snow on the ground, this could make the climb dangerous.

  6. About how long is the Hike?

    • Jena,

      The hike itself takes anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes depending on how in shape you are. The incline is pretty significant, and while I consider myself in average shape, I had to take a few breaks to sit and rest.

  7. Youknow

    Someone has told me that this is a “clothing optional” site. Any response?

    • matheson

      While I’m not sure if there’s any signs or anything posted about clothing being optional, it sure seems that way. Either time that I’ve visited, there have been many skinny dippers.

  8. So I’ve been told to watch out for skinny dippers. My husband and I were thinking of going but that was the main concern about us going. Any thoughts?

    • matheson

      We encountered quite a few skinny dippers when we went. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable. However, there were a number of different pools to choose from, so it was relatively easy to be secluded by yourself away from others. Generally the larger pools are hard to claim for yourself, but the smaller outlying pools are easier to snatch up.

  9. Scout Leader

    We went with our scout troop …. its a neat place and the water was great. HOWEVER it turns out this is a popular place for skinny dippers. Almost every pool had a naked couple in it. Yikes!

  10. I have 3 kids, would u consider this kid friendly? They are pretty tough. They love hiking r mountain…comparable?

    • I have done this hike 2 or 3 times, and each time I have to stop, sit down, and take a breather at the very end of the hike. If they are smaller children, they may struggle, but most should be able to complete it without struggling too much.

  11. The nakedness is natural and fits in with the setting. Surely you have seen many naked bodies in the movies, and this is much more relaxed and not sexual at all. I wore my bathing suit, and saw a few who did not. Not a big deal, just go with it. There are enough pools, separated from each other, for all to be happy.

  12. If you have problems with skinny dippers then stay home at Rexburg Rapids.

  13. I agree with William, if you don’t like seeing naked people then this hot Spring really isn’t for you. I would suggest other hot springs such as Heise or Lava hit springs where everyone is required to have a bathing suit on.. The forest service allows Gold bug and other hot springs like it to be clothing optional I hope it stays that way for years to come. Lastly this hot spring is a 3 and 1/2 half hour drive away from Rexburg. And then a two mile hike up the mountain that takes anywhere from 45 min to two hours depending upon the time of your, weather conditions and what kind of shape a persons in. So it’s really not close to Rexburg at all. But if none of that bothers you including the skinny dippers then come on up and join us Whether or not you choose to Skinny Dip or ware a swimsuit that’s up to you. You will be welcome either way. Just don’t judge others, be open minded and tolerant of others. No matter if they are naked or not and you’d be surprised who you might become friends with.

  14. My husband and I are thinking about camping up there overnight which would mean we have to backpacking everything in and out. Do people do this and is it possible? Also, would we have to bring in all of our drinking water? Even with the best water filter, I wouldn’t trust that water. Do you have any tips or tricks to make it manageable for us? Thanks!

    • Meghan,

      While I personally have never camped at Goldbug, I see many people who choose to do so. As you hike up the trail, you see many tents set up along the lower (flatter) sections. Unfortunately, I don’t have any tips on filtering water. Personally, I would bring some bottled water and just pack everything in myself rather than drinking the water from the springs. Let us know how it goes, and be sure to share with us so others can see.

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