Mile-16 Hot Spring in Idaho Revisited


A grrl's best friend

Grade A soaks, views of the North Fork of the Payette River and a weekend battle for the hot springs.

Hot outflow

The rock walls of M16 were once again above the flow of the river providing for a most excellent soaking experience.

They float

I'm afraid this place is getting pretty popular, there were more people soaking over the weekend than I've ever witnessed. So, what's that mean? Get in line or cram in... just great. At least I didn't find much trash to cart out. Plus, the soaking was awesome.
Rating A-

Wild Hot Springs in the Payette National Forest

Buckhorn Hot Springs

A gradually inclined 5 mile hike on an overgrown, old forest road to hard to find, meadow and forest bordered hot springs in the Payette National Forest near Buckhorn Creek.

Hot water from the source flows down part of a hill into a hollowed-out lodge pole pine and then into a rock walled pool with a sandy and rocky bottom. Another source outflows into a raised wood gutter that acts as a stand-up shower and boasts near perfect temperatures.

Buckhorn was tough to reach on this trip because of the last blast of spring runoff. The hike up was beautiful, chock full of vibrant butterflies. The trail was rutted out near stream crossings and sharp inclines thanks to trail bike and mountain bike enthusiasts. The outfitter/hunter camps were a nightmare. Someone was just up here and left quite a mess indeed... I was furious. There was crap everywhere! Almost all of it was primarily concentrated at the main outfitter camp. I notified the National Forest Law Enforcement, Jeff Higgley, of the situation upon returning. I found out that he'd already been working on it. That's why I like Jeff, he's a good steward of the land and a great example of how you would hope all public land personnel would be.

I also found out that they have been having an increasing problem with the majority of hunters and anglers. It was about the same kind of thing I run into all of the time - most impact the environment in irreversible ways - like trying to drive their 'rig' in as far as possible. God forbid they leave a light footprint and actually hike in without motorized assistance. We agreed that his father and my grandfather would be rolling in their graves (as both were hunters and anglers that respected the land) in regard to hunters and anglers of this day. I've seen coked-up hunting parties, drunk hunters driving around on ORVs at 3am shooting off their shotguns in the air, backpacking campsites trashed with angler garbage, signs/doors/fee boxes shot up by hunters and more. Respect the land or leave.

Stand-up Shower

After dropping down to Buckhorn Creek and fording on a fallen tree to the meadow campsite I was greeted by views of a submerged meadow. Runoff was raging, and as such was covering the majority of the meadow in fast moving water. After much exploration another fallen tree was found upstream that provided passage across to the hot springs. Note: after making the crossing, I decided that it wasn't such a great idea to go after Bucky during runoff - too risky, one slip off the tree and the chances surviving the frigid, strong currents would be slim.

Buckhorn Creek

The pool was loaded up with algae, although I didn't recognize any horse fly larva that I've heard rumors about. The stand-up shower was better than I remembered... hotter too. Nothing like a hot geo-shower overlooking a sunken meadow and raging creek during a warm spring afternoon.
Rating B-

Movie About Hot Springs in the Oregon Cascades

"Old Joy" is a Seattle Film Fest movie about two good friends that are on a roadtrip to hot springs in the Oregon Cascades.

Read the Seattle P-I article for more information

A Dark Day for the Environment

On Friday, May 26th, despite opposition from over 100 conservation groups and thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, the United States Senate confirmed former Idaho Senator/Governor Dirk Kempthorne as Secretary of the Interior.

Brock Evans, President of the Endangered Species Coalition had this to say in regard to Kempthrone's new position: "The vote to confirm Mr. Kempthorne as our next Secretary of Interior marks the beginning of a sad and anxious time for Americans who care about proper stewardship and protection of our Nation's magnificent wilderness, park, and wildlife treasures."

Interior Secretary Kempthorne now assumes management of 500 million acres of publicly owned lands,– which include: our national parks, monuments, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, rangelands, and coastal areas. The Secretary is also responsible for fish and wildlife conservation and the conservation of our nation's water and mineral resources.

As a Senator, Kempthorne has a lifetime League of Conservation Voters score of only 1% having voted only one time out of 70 in favor of the environment. He twice voted for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and also supported drilling off our coasts in areas that are currently protected. Mr. Kempthorne has also voted to sell off public lands and opposed reforming laws to rein in the environmentally destructive activities of the mining industry. As governor, Mr. Kempthorne has supported mining for gravel in the middle of a state park along the Boise River, and has also been leading the charge against the 2001 Roadless Rule, a national policy which protected nine million acres of wild forests in Idaho from new road construction and industrial logging. (Source: ESC).

Idaho residents are quite familier with Kempthorne's anti-environment agenda, especially public land enthusiasts. Big energy financed his political campaign - more than almost all other Governors. This supports the reasoning behind why Kempthorne has one of the worst environmental records ever known.

It is critical to educate your friends and family about Kempthorne and the Bush Administration - and support those that continuously keep fighting the good fight - the one for environmental protection, habitat-conservation planning and education.

Mother Nature Giving Mile-16 Hot Spring a Break


Mother nature is finally giving Mile-16 hot spring a much deserved break. I've been to this hot spring many times, and this is the first time I've seen it underwater. It looked like there were several unsuccessful attempts at elevating the pool walls by use of sandbags in an effort to avoid the rampant spring runoff. I only hope that the thin mortar-reinforced walls are able to withstand the might of the river. One big stick is all it would take.

Unfortunately, the absence of a soak hasn't deterred trash mongers. There was more trash here than I was prepared to deal with, complete with a nasty diaper. What is wrong with some people? Please don't leave the city or your locality if you don't know how to pick up after yourself. Jeeze. What worries me more is the thought of those same people breeding. Thank you all that do pick up after yourself, especially those who pick up after everyone - you are the reason why exists; in the spirit of enjoying hot springs through preservation, conservation and education.
Rating X

The Russian Warm Spring Soaking Experience Awaits North of Sun Valley

Russian John Warm Springs: Located in the Sawtooth National Forest just north of Ketchum, Idaho.

Russian John made for a nice foot warmer with a view. The area around the pool, fire pit and bench was fairly clean.

It may be just because it's been 4 years since I've been here last, but the pool seems a bit larger and deeper. All in all, a very beautiful area and excellent warm soak for the hot summer months.
Rating B-

The Trek to Goldbug Hot Springs (Video Clips)

Goldbug Hot Springs (ID) Video Clips:

Roadside Soaking at Elkhorn Hot Spring Near Stanley, Idaho

Elkhorn Hot Spring: Easy-access, wooden soaking box right next to the highway northeast of Stanley.

Good to go!

The wooden soaking tub is usable all year long, and the rock-walled seasonal pools next to the river submerge during spring runoff. You'll have to fill the tub (after you put the stopper in) and adjust the hot temps with a plastic bucket (usually located next to the tub) by carting in cold water from the river. Comes complete with sunken seating.

There are plenty of campgrounds and primitive sites to choose from in the surrounding Sawtooth National Forest and Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), none next to the hot spring.

This roadside dip was a sweet soak as usual during my last visit. Be careful climbing into the soaking tub as the river level was unusually high for this time of year, compare the pictures from May 03 and 06 to see for yourself (more than likely normal river flows considering years of drought). I like Elkhorn, and my biggest beef is that it is right next to the highway. Good and bad I suppose depending on your position. I favor soaking a little further off the beaten path - wondering if someone might drive off the highway and land in the hot spring is just something I don't want entering my mind during a soak. Yes, the odds are quite low of this occurring, but judging from the strength of the river flows, I'd say there is a higher probability that you might end up enjoying a mobile soaking experience (while the river carries the soaking tub downstream). It'd be one heck of a ride and a stellar soak to boot, complete with years of bragging rights.
Rating: B+

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