A Rocky Update

Rocky Canyon Hot Springs (ID)

With all of the banter going on about the demise of the pools at Rocky Canyon Hot Springs in Idaho (note the picture currently at the top of this blog - it's Rocky Canyon), I thought I'd chime in.

Let me begin by stating that there are bigger threats to multiple hot springs to consider... all of this focus and attention on one hot springs is great. However, it's important to remember that we could lose a multitude of hot springs if Idaho remains as the only state not protected by the Roadless Rule. I'm not saying the fight to save the pools at Rocky are unimportant, just to keep the big picture in mind. Rocky will continue to exist even after the mortar pools are gone. Natural pools will return soon after.

I sifted through the 8 pages of comments in the Statesman article, checked out the KTVB story and have had conversations with a number of people involved in the situation. I've come to the following conclusions.

Points to Consider

1. Safety

Rocky has been around for a long time. The improved pools have only existed for a couple years. All of the incarnations of previously constructed natural pools presented stagnant water issues due to poor water circulation. The improved pools are well-designed, with plenty of water flow to flush and keep all of the pools continuously clean.

The old pools were often a sketchy soak... I once encountered 'swimming worms' in one of the upper pools. Yep. Rocky was actually on my 'soak with caution' list until the new pools went up in 2007.

The improved pools are also easier to reach. Where the previous pools required a steep, slick ascent up loose rocks and mud.

2. Pollution

Sadly, none of the comments I read addressed this issue. The previous pools at Rocky featured rock walls built in conjunction with the use of plastic tarps. Fungus eventually grows on the tarps and enters the water system where it can't be broken down. Fish eat it. Animals eat it. We eat it, recreate in it... you get the picture. The new pools do not make use of a single plastic tarp.

3. Tribal Concerns

We are all in this together. This is public land, where all of us are equally responsible for making sure abuse and misuse issues are addressed. Unfortunately, this issue will be ever-present in national forests, wilderness and hot springs - anywhere held as sacred. Abuse and misuse will exist regardless of if the pools are rock or mortar reinforced.

4. Other Offenders

I'm not trying to point fingers... but, there are quite a few other hot springs that have illegal, mortar reinforcements - just like Rocky that are even easier to access and have a TON of abuse/misuse problems. Like death. Vandalism. Gang fights... why the focus on Rocky Canyon with other blatant violators in the area? People have died at Skinnydipper. That's right, plural. The Forest Service didn't get sued, and it's way easier to get to.

5. Improved Pool Nuisance Issue

I'd say that the destruction left over from logging, illegal off-trail ORV vegetative destruction or incessant angler trash dumped on the riverbanks are all more of a nuisance than the appearance of a set of mortar reinforced pools.

Final Words

When this all started to go down, my first instinct was to support the return to natural built pools. However, the new pools are overall, better for the environment. Isn't that what is most important after all? Hopefully, some sort of a compromise can be reached. It seems wasteful for the forest service to announce that they will be demolishing the pools, but - afterwards, will consider re-building them.

Snively Sneak-a-Soak

Snively Underwater
Underwater view of Snively Hot Springs in Oregon

Occasionally, during the off-season, I like to sneak-a-soak at Snively Hot Springs in Southeast Oregon. Snively is a prime candidate for the sneak-a-soak, with it being only about an hour or so drive from Boise.

Water Level

It's always a good trip when there's hardly any trash to pick up. This place has sure undergone positive change over the years. This visit, the best soak was the only soak - a giant soaker which was a trick to find a suitable soaking temperature in. Hot and cold swirled all around, oftentimes the blasts of hot and cold were too much. All in all, a moderate soak. I'm looking forward to next years pool design, as spring runoff will surely destroy the current setup.

Thermal Creek
Thermal Creek

Hot, Meet Cold
Where Hot Meets Cold

Mud Walled
Mud Walled

View from Snively
View from the Pool

Snively Hot Springs on SoakOregon.com

Snively Hot Springs on IdahoHotSprings.com

Boise National Forest to Demolish Rocky Canyon Hot Springs in Idaho

Well, I wondered what was going to become of the Rocky Canyon situation... I just received the following via email:


USFS to demolish Rocky Canyon Hot Springs...soon!!

Located just north of Crouch, Rocky Canyon Hotsprings is enjoyed by thousands annually. This relaxing destination has been slated for demolition (according to John Ericson with the USFS in Emmett @ 208.365.7000) to happen within the next 24-48 hours.In a conversation with Cecilia Seescholz (208.373.4102) at the USFS in Boise, I was told that the reasoning that they were to be destroyed was because of building permit violations and tribal concerns.

It is an outrage for this to happen. Please, Please voice your opinion and help save a beautiful piece of Idaho that is enjoyed by thousands annually. Others to contact include...

John Erickson ranger station 208-365-7000
His boss-- Cecilia Seesholtz 208-373-4102 Boise Nat'l Forest Supervisor
Her boss--Harv Forsgren 801-625-5605(out of office this week) ask for Deputy Jerry Perez regional Nat'l Forest Service office located in Ogden Utah
Tom Tidwel- Chief Of the National Forest service in Washington D.C.202-205-8439
Senator James Risch office 342-7985 ask for Mike Roach
Congressman Walt Minnick 202-225-3029 speak w/Devon
Channel 7 Managing editor Lisa 208-321-5614
Idaho Statesman - 208.377.6200
Boise Weekly - 208.344.2055



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