Soaking Zen in 2010 (expanded)

Bog Sunset
Note: Originally posted 12.31.09, Updated 01.02.10

First, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the fallen…

In 2009, we lost the pools at Molly’s Tubs, Vulcan and Rocky Canyon (more). All 3 hot springs are located in Idaho, and all 3 were deconstructed by the Forest Service due to reasoning centered around public abuse and misuse.

Over the last decade Idaho has lost many public hot springs in addition to the 3 above. It's going down in Idaho in almost the exact same way it occurred in Oregon and Washington in the past. Ever heard of Cougar Hot Springs? How about Scenic, Wind River, Bagby, McCredie, Olympic, Austin? These hot springs were all once incredible public soaks. Legendary, in their own right. Epic among hot springer circles. They all are either closed, or feature restricted access, expensive permits and/or excessive vandalism and vehicle break-ins (and of course unreal amounts of trash).

The good news is we can learn from their example, but we don't have much time. Jerry Johnson and Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho are now closed at night. Skinnydipper has a range of problems; vehicle break-ins, flat tire/vehicle damage, gang fights, excessive trash, drunken and lewd behavior (meaning swinger gatherings). Skinnydipper was actually under nighttime closure for two years ending in 2009. However, it was rarely enforced, and signage was destroyed as fast as it was enacted.

The Moral of the Story

If we can figure out how to keep these sacred places clean and safe, I think we can actually save them. If we let abuse and misuse run rampant, the powers that be will have no choice but to either restrict usage or enact strict access measures.

This brings me back to the post title – Soaking Zen in 2010. This year, clean-up the hot springs before you soak. If there are disreputable folks trashing it up – do something sensible. Say something. Maybe start picking up trash in front of them, or snap a pic of their license plate and report them to the nearest Ranger Station or public lands office.

Believe me, a sweet soak in a natural hot springs feels a lot better this way. Hot springs need protection if they are to be enjoyed by the public for years to come, as it should be.

With that said, I want to express my gratitude to all of the unsung HS heroes. All of the trash picker-uppers, conservation and preservation supporters, volunteers, eco-friendly public land workers, petition signers, bloggers, news anchors and directors and outspoken enviro do-gooders. I thank you, mother nature thanks you and a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts, thank you.

It is not enough to UNDERSTAND the natural world.

The point is to DEFEND and PRESERVE it.

-Edward Abbey

Happy New Year!

Trail Creek Hot Springs Clean Up


Due to lack of funding Boise River Volunteers went to Trail Creek Hot Springs in Idaho on 12/27 instead- and a great choice it worked out to be! The soak was AMAZING as can be expected! and the trash- moderate, it took a little bit of hunting, but once found we got nearly a black bag's worth. Here is the link to the pictures:

Boise River Volunteers in Hot Water

Idaho Hot Springs have a new group of champions; the Boise River Volunteers have expanded their cleanup efforts to now include hot water.

I would like to introduce Amber Hoid (Twitter), of the Boise River Volunteers as a new guest blogger here on! W00t!

She'll be posting (as in, has already posted twice) about BRV hot springs cleanup efforts... when they are, how to sign-up and pictures from past events.

Boise River Volunteer Information:

Official Website

Hot Springs Cleanup Forums

Wild Rose Hot Springs Clean Up 12/27/2009 New Volunteers Welcome!

Here is the link to our next clean up at Wild Rose Hot Springs in Idaho. If you are new, please fill out the contact section at so that we can add you to our email list for upcoming events, and so that you can post on the forum. We plan to leave Boise at 9am- clean then soak. Due to funding constraints and distance we ask that all volunteers bring about $10 for gas costs for this one! Also, if there are more volunteers than seats we someone else willing to drive with other passengers- to organize that please comment!

Pictures of Indian Hot Springs Volunteer Clean-Up 12/2009

Indian Hot springs 2009 Click here to view the Indian Bathtub Hot Springs cleanup pictures from 12/13 /2009. If you would like to volunteer for one of our future clean ups please fill out the contact form on, where you will also be put on our email list to be updated on all of our events and cleanups. This will make it easier for you to sign up for the ones you want. As a whole- the trash was abundant, tubs not so great this time of the year- but a great time nonetheless!

Loftus Lessons: Full Trip Report

11.01.09 Loftus Hot Springs Trip Report

Loftus Hot Springs

Finally... at last! A nice long soak was enjoyed at Loftus with minimal interruption. I visited Loftus in conjunction with a number of other hot springs along the Middle Fork of the Boise River. This trip was actually dubbed as the "PIE" trip. I like pie, but not this kind. Poison Ivy Eye (PIE).

I partook in a stellar soak, making sure to stick my head (face first) into the hot waterfall that feeds the pool from above. Afterwards, everything seemed fine and dandy. Even hours later, all was well. However, the next morning it was completely swollen shut. Ironically, this was the same day KIVI wanted to chat with me on TV about the demise of the pools at Rocky Canyon Hot Springs.

After a little freak out, I finally went to a doc in the box. I thought something was stuck in it. The doc took a look, then asked if I had been in any poison ivy. Well. I did notice a few growing above the hot springs, where the hot waterfall originates from. As well as, what I thought to be at the time, small clusters of oil in the actual pool.

Apparently, the ivy is too diluted once it enters the pool. However (lucky me), not the case with the waterfall. He prescribed me a $300 tube of steroid cream and was out. My eye eventually opened back up and looked like a beast eye for a few days. KIVI let me keep my shades on by shooting outside, and I have learned to not stick my head into hot waterfalls.

Thank goodness the soak was incredible. There was a friendly Asian fellow that soaked as well, but only for about a half hour before leaving. Who, I might add, spent more time than I in the hot waterfall. Nearby, there was a semi-awkward hunter guy who had setup camp at one of the primitive sites. He would wander out of his camp, where he just stood in one place, to a knoll above the road when vehicles passed by. Then, return to his standing position. Luckily he wasn't visible from the pool unless he was milling about. You see/meet all kinds out here folks.

I was just happy that there was practically NO TRASH, and that I got enjoy a kick*ss soak without having to pick up a bunch of trash first. Impressive, considering the terrible condition of the entire area my last visit.

Side Note: I took the Middle Fork Boise River Road off State HWY 21 near Lucky Peak on the way into the area. On the way out, I made a bad judgment call and took a series of forest roads up towards Morse Creek Summit thinking it would be a quicker way back to Boise. I've taken this route before, but only during the summer.

It was a NIGHTMARE. Steep, slick, rutted, wash boarded, frozen and littered with deep pot holes. I had good tires on my truck; a rear-wheel, two-wheel drive vehicle with virtually no weight in the back. It was one of those trips where I kept thinking "Crap. I'm pretty sure I didn't tell anyone where I went." over and over again. Obviously, I made it back, but not after thrashing my truck on the way out.
Rating: A-

Lost Photos of Rocky the Great

Lost photos found, of the former pools at Rocky Canyon Hot Springs...

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Lost Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

More Rocky Canyon Hot Springs

Stanley Hot Springs YouTuber

Great video of Stanley Hot Springs (not mine)!

Calendar Power-Up


This year, I crafted out a calendar of my favorite northwest hot springs photos. Then, promptly forgot about it until today. I received an email from the calendar publisher telling me that it’s among a select few that are going to be featured on for the holiday. Score!

Click the button below to view/buy the calendar on Lulu:

Support independent publishing: Buy this calendar on Lulu.

View or Buy on!

Feel free to purchase in large quantities. ;).

Hangin from the Rafters


Loftus from Below

Been a busy couple of months, here’s what I’ve been up to:

  1. Adding limited Google Maps functionality to the GPS page for Idaho. Only a few HS have been updated, but more are on the way. Once I’ve got ‘em all linked, I’ll put something together like I did for commercial Idaho hot springs.
  2. Compiling a listing of “The Legends of Hot Springs”, or something like that. Hot Springs already have rich histories, but there are a number of influential individuals that I’d like to acknowledge. This will be a hot springs history lesson you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s the short list:
    Skip Hill
    Evie Litton
    Moss Man (no joke)
    Hot Springs Harley
    Keeper Ken
    NZ Defendress
    Scenic Rick
    Tim Messing
    D & J
    … and many others. Got suggestions? Please comment!
  3. Completing the trip report from visiting hot springs in the Middle Fork Boise River area. Codenamed the PIE trip (Poison Ivy Eye).
  4. Working on a post about the “Gift of the Waters Pageant”, held annually in Hot Springs State Park.
  5. Listings on IHS for the remainder of all commercial hot springs.
  6. Trip planning for a possible run at Arizona Hot Springs, near Vegas.

Winter Travel Reminder

Travel and soak safely; check weather, road conditions and webcams before leaving. Then, check again. Especially if you are heading into the backcountry. Pack like you’re going to get stranded a couple days – bring extra food, clothes, water thermometer and sleeping gear. Also, try to not fall into a hot springs with all of your clothes on.

In Idaho (and SE Oregon), most remote backcountry locations do not have cell phone reception. I’ve been through places that are plowed 1-2x/day, weather permitting, and have soaked in pools that freeze the hair on your head, face and inner-nose in seemingly seconds. Just be careful.

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