Gold Fork Hot Springs in Central Idaho

Nestled in a mountain forest near Donnelly, Cascade and McCall Idaho lies the holy grail of all commercial or privately owned hot springs in Idaho. The water at Gold Fork Hot Springs is top-quality; meaning it is 100% natural, has an incredible alkaline rating and contains other minerals that are great for the skin and body. Even the wooden decking is all-natural and has a 50yr life span - untreated. It's the same wood used on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. I've been to many hot springs, and Gold Fork by far, is my favorite commercial soak.

There are 6 incredibly designed pools to soak in, and if you enjoy natural backcountry hot springs you will feel right at home here. The water is smooth and slick, featuring an Alkaline Ph of +9. Not to mention that all 6 pools flow-through in 4 hours! Lithium is the most prominent mineral in the water followed by potassium, calcium, sodium, fluoride, chloride, arsenic and boron. Gold Fork has many repeat visitors that come for the healing properties of the water. Stories of folks traveling up to the hot springs once a week to soak and fill up a couple jugs of water are common here, as are stories of ailments and illness - gone, after soaking in Gold Fork's healing waters.

The owners strive to keep the hot springs and surrounding area as natural as possible. The hot springs are well monitored, and disruptive soakers are politely asked to leave. Although there are no overnight/camping accommodations on-site, the owners do have plans for a few rooms in the future. There is however, plenty of great National Forest camping nearby, along with an assortment of hotels and motels in Donnelly, Cascade and McCall.

Gold Fork Hot Springs is located in Central Idaho, near the quaint mountain town of Donnelly. Gold Fork is a 90 minute drive from Boise and a mere 15 minutes from Cascade. It's open and accessible year-round, including all holidays.

Gold Fork also utilizes geothermal energy; the boardwalk and many places around the hot springs and in other areas are heated by geothermal power.

Sorry RVers, no hook-ups or overnight parking is available. However, there are future plans for overnight accommodations.

Gold Fork feature 6 pools, with temperatures from hot to cool, with hydromassage. One of the pools features a soft, white sand bottom with sand from Emmett, Idaho. Changing rooms, towel and swimsuit rentals, restrooms, handicap parking and restrooms are also available.

Getting to Gold Fork is easy. From either Donnelly (north) or Cascade (south) head toward mile marker 128 on Highway 55, you are looking for Plant Road and a sign for Gold Fork. Head east on Plant road and follow the blue Gold Fork signs for 6.6 miles. The first 2.6 miles are paved, the rest is on a graded dirt road. The entire length of the road is maintained and plowed the entire year.

08.11.07 Trip Report

I will from now on refer to Gold Fork as the holy grail of all commercial hot springs. The agenda of the owners is beyond noble, water mineral quality is incredible and soak entirely stellar. I was lucky enough to receive a personal invite to the hot springs, and meet with one of the owners and a volunteer.

Gold Fork Hot Springs has a colorful history. And, in hot springing circles has been a well-know soak since time began. Back in the 80s, Boise Cascade (now known as just Boise) owned the land. This was when Boise Cascade was dynamiting hot springs because they didn't want to deal with the liability of people getting hurt at them. They left Gold Fork alone though, it was too large.... too dangerous to even blow up. So they sold it. The next 15 years it changed hands many times until finally ending up with the current owners/caretakers. Mother and daughter, Brenda and Kelly are now taking great care of an incredible hot springs, and have no plans to sell it. They just want to keep it as natural as possible.

Paula, a volunteer at Gold Fork on Friday and Saturday, has been visiting the hot springs since 1963. She helped clue me in on some of Gold Fork's history, and showed me a Gold Fork photograph of hers from that time. Paula and Brenda were both excellent. I unfortunately, was not able to meet with Kelly, but have talked with her via e-mail a few times. It's so great to see a hot springs in such good hands.

According to Brenda, "we only want people here who respect the water". What more else could anyone want? Gold Fork is clean, well cared for, has incredibly soft water and is in a natural setting. RVers, partiers, unruly children and adults - head on down the road to Zims. If you respect the water, then Gold Fork is a must soak.

Rating A+

Take a 1 Minute Gold Fork Tour!

View the complete listing for Gold Fork Hot Springs on


Related Posts with Thumbnails