The Hot Waterfall-Fed Pools of Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho


See the 'V'? That's where the soak is

A chain of waterfall-fed pools await at the end of a grueling 3 mile hike on a shade deprived trail. During hot temps this hike is rough - bring plenty of water or a water filter. There is a bio-toilet about 1.5 to 2 miles in, near one of the shaded primitive sites. The last .5 miles in to the springs are the steepest of the entire route. While most of the path is through a desert landscape filled with sagebrush there are brief cool areas of relief near the creek among the junipers. Goldbug is well-known, and is used by many different types of soakers.

Getting closer... see the 'V' now?

The fairly difficult hike does little to deter the crowds. However, this hot springs is well cared for. The norm here is to pick up your trash and leave as little trace as possible. I'm always happy when I encounter a hot springs where the majority are stewards. Expect a mostly non-swimsuit wearing crowd (signed as clothing optional area) that are polite and friendly. Watch for snakes during the warmer months, this area has many rattlesnakes and other kinds of snakes - the elevation and temperatures are just right.

Almost there...

During the core of spring runoff you might be hard pressed to find a soaking pool that is warm enough... usually there's one - you just might have to search around a bit. The rest of the time is quite a different story... depending on the creek flow there can be anywhere between 2 to 10 soakable pools on each side of the creek. Accessible all year.

The 1st pool before bridge 4

The 1st quarter mile of the hike in is on private property, and there are no camping sites at or near the trailhead aside from a BLM recreation site a few miles down the highway. Between 1 and 2 miles in, there are a couple primitive campsites nestled in the junipers near the creek just off the trail that provide ample seclusion and shade. There are also stepped camping sites above the hot springs near the 4th bridge on the north and south sides of the creek. The stepped plots are fairly small, and would accommodate 2-person tents. They are all fairly close together, so don't bother unless you don't mind close company - because there will be company.

Nothing beats a sunset soak... especially at Goldbug

We left the trailhead a couple hours prior to sunset. Signage warned that the 1st quarter mile of the 3 mile trail crossed private land, and beyond were primitive camps and a bio-toilet near trail mile 2. Air temperatures were in the upper 80s (a rare occurrence this time of the year due to a warm front that broke many records) and shade was often hard to come by. I drank a ton of water... The last .5 mile to the springs proved to be the most difficult, after the 3rd bridge crossing. Just before the 4th bridge we were greeted by the 1st pool *sigh* - we were here. Further exploration lead to the discovery of the additional pools, although only 1 grouping was hot enough for soaking due to runoff.

Shower massage anyone?

A local actually told me that today was the 1st day the water had been warm enough for a decent soak since runoff began. As we prepped to soak we were passed by a young couple on their way back down... grinning from ear to ear - I was soon to find out why.

It doesn't get much better than this

Initially, we soaked with another local that had been coming to the springs for at least 20 years. He was friendly, polite and truly respected this special place. After some banter and story swapping he left us to soak in private. I took it all in, the hot waterfall massage, stretching out in one of the coves and watching a diamondback curl around the inside of a cracked stump above a thermal vent. At one point I was enjoying the waterfall and thinking about the rattlesnake as a twig came down the falls and hit my shoulder... I launched myself out into the pool and received some quirky looks, then giggles once it was divulged that I had thought a snake slid down the water slide. I was quite relieved myself.

The set of pools below bridge 4 (after crossing)

Watching sunset from the pool in this unique place was incredible, I can't wait to do it again... only next time I'm adding sunrise to my mental to-do list.
Rating: A+

New Slate Creek Hot Springs Picture Additions!

11 New Pictures of Slate Creek Hot Springs in Idaho... Enjoy!

Fill er up!

The 2nd natural pool

Piping hot

Sweet release

Yours truly

View the rest of the pictures...

Northwest Hot Springs & Red Spider Mites *UPDATED*

RSM: Red Spider Mite (magnified)

Ahh yes, a natural nemesis of the hot springer, the Red Spider Mite (RSM) is known to inhabit a few hot springs. Barley visible to the naked eye, these tiny crimson mites scurry about on rocks and the top of water in and around select hot springs in Idaho and the Northwest.

They cling to the body (including clothing left next to the pools) and proceed to bite the skin in an unsuccessful attempt to lay eggs. The bites leave itchy red sores behind that usually heal completely after a couple weeks. It is highly advisable to use itch relief cream and avoid itching the bites. The human immune system kills off the eggs before they can hatch and eventually builds up enough immunity to kill off the mites themselves.

Precautionary Measures
  • Avoid the hot, dry rocks near and next to hot springs as the majority of RSMs inhabit this area.
  • Use bug juice, but only after your soak - RSMs usually wait to dig-in until their host has dry skin, applying bug juice after soaking should reduce your chances of receiving bites.

Soaking in the Shadows of the White Cloud Mountains at Slate Creek Hot Springs in Idaho


The view from the parking area / trailhead

Ahhh... finally. Multiple soaks were had at a unique hot springs nestled in a wooded valley situated in the White Cloud Mountains in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). This is the same SNRA that politician Mike Simpson wants to secede chunks off to Stanley for trophy home development. Usually, visiting Slate Creek this time of year yields to snow, at least during cold spring nights. However, a few day warm front provided a nice window of opportunity for accessing this popular soaking destination.

Why hello there...

Slate Creek Hot Springs is located at the site of the old Hoodoo Mines, north of Stanley and near Sunbeam. It's actually kinda spooky being able to see abandoned out-buildings and mine shafts from the soaking pool. Further exploration revealed additional mine shafts and metal shacks. Hot seeps are present throughout the area, but the wooden soaking box is primarily fed from a source inside the nearest boarded up mine shaft. At one point while soaking, I watched steam pour out of the center of an old, long-dead stump 50 yards away.

A closer look at the wooden soaking box

The old soaking box still holds water, but takes time to fill up and adjust the temperature. I must be getting a knack for this kind of stuff, because it only took about 30 minutes to achieve optimal soaking conditions, including fill time.


Please make sure to pull the plug and drain the pool upon departure, and don't forget to move the two hot water plastic pipes back out of the pool as to preserve the wood. And, as always, pick up your trash and any other trash you might find. I was ecstatic to not find any trash at the hot springs and parking / trailhead areas. I did end up picking up trash at a couple of the nearby primitive campsites though.

Sparkling hot water

This is a popular hot springs, consider yourself lucky if you are able to enjoy it yourself. Please treat this area with care and respect, and if you value or use this land - oppose any politicians that would give precious public land away in favor of trophy home development.
Rating: A-

Take Action! Boise River at Risk from Canadian Mining Company!

Boise residents and river enthusiasts are lucky; we get to enjoy one of the cleanest rivers around. The Boise River is clean because Boise is the first city in line below the mountains, where the headwaters of the river are formed. We are actually responsible for most of the pollution in the Boise River. However, if a Canadian mining company gets their way, pollution of the river will get much worse than sunken beer cans from past river float seasons... how does cyanide sound?

That's right, cyanide - Atlanta Gold, the name of the Canadian mining company, has plans to build an open-pit cyanide heap-leach gold mine in THE HEADWATERS OF THE BOISE RIVER!

This mine threatens the health of all who habitat and enjoy the river. Our fish, wildlife, public health, safety and drinking water are all at risk! Leach mining has been banned in all but 1 other state besides Idaho because of the resulting detrimental effects on the environment.

It's Time to Protect the Boise River

The Forest Service is holding the following public open house meetings on the proposed mine:
  • May 24, 4-7 PM Mountain Home -– American Legion Hall, 515 East 2nd Street South

  • May 25, 4-7 PM Idaho City -– Idaho City Ranger District, Highway 21, MP 38.5

  • May 30, 4-8 PM Boise -– Doubletree Riverside Motel, 2900 Chinden Blvd., Garden City

  • May 31, 3-6 PM Atlanta -– Atlanta School
Main Points
  • Share what the Boise River means to you and your family

  • Diesel fuel must not be stockpiled in the headwaters

  • All open pits must be completely backfilled and capped

  • Water must not be polluted or require perpetual treatment
What To Do
  • Attend one of the open houses listed above.

  • Send comments by June 9th to
    Attn: Terry Harding
    Boise National Forest Service
    c/o PO Box 552
    Boise, ID 83702

  • If you only have a minute, go to to send comments electronically.

  • Volunteer to help on this campaign - send an email to
For more information, contact John Robison, or 208.345.6942 x 13.

This campaign is coordinated by Idaho Families for Clean Water, a coalition of groups, including Sierra Club, Idaho Rivers United, and Idaho Conservation League protecting Idaho'’s clean water.

Terwilliger / Cougar Hot Springs Fee & Management Change

Forest Service Hands Over Management of Terwilliger Hot Springs in Oregon to a Private Company

Terwilliger / Cougar Hot Springs

As of May 2005, Hoodoo Recreation Services now operates Terwilliger Hot Springs. As such, Northwest Forest Passes are no longer accepted at this location. Soakers now have to purchase a $5 parking pass and pay an additional $5/person usage fee. The only other option is to purchase a $50 annual pass.

While I see the need for new management methodology at Cougar, I don't see any good reasons to hand it over to a private company that by nature, has to make a profit.

Parking passes, per person fees and annual passes can be purchased directly from Hoodoo Recreation Services, on-site from the attendants, at Patio RV Park in McKenzie Bridge, the Campstore at Hoodoo Ski Lodge and at Umbrella Properties in Coburg.

Related Links:

Idaho Grizzly Bear Killers Sentenced & Fined: Justice for Bear 346 and Cub

Two grizzly bears in a meadow in the Yellowsto...Image via WikipediaAfter initially challenging the charges against them, the killers later plead guilty to their crimes. The judge in the case ruled that the bear cub was not killed in self-defense as the defendants claimed. Both men will serve prison time and pay fines and restitution. The nearly $20,000 in restitution will go to the Yellowstone Association to fund grizzly bear management in the region. Hopefully, this will send a clear message that killing grizzly bears will not be tolerated. (Source: Defenders of Wildlife)

Full details about the hunters and bear 346 and her cub...

Personally, I think they got off easy. The fines are chump change to these guys who have elitist ties among the likes of Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills.

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Happy Endangered Species Day! Woo Hoo!

The United States Senate has unanimously proclaimed today, May 11 as “Endangered Species Day, providing for the first-ever national celebration of America'’s commitment to protecting and recovering our country's endangered species.

Today we celebrate endangered species success stories, including the American bald eagle, peregrine falcon, gray wolf, humpback whale and many of our nation'’s wildlife, fish and plants.

Endangered Species Day is supported by scientists, sportsmen, religious leaders conservationistsists alike!

Do More for Endangered Species!

Sign the Endangered Species Act Legacy Pledge

Sign letter to the Senate opposing the Kempthorne confirmation

More action alerts...

Get out to your favorite public lands and pick up some trash! Then, reward yourself with a soak!

Best Wishes & Happy Endangered Species Day,

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