Gold Fork Glory

Gold Fork GloryGold Fork Hot Springs Idaho Trip Report

I have been way overdue for a visit to one of my favorite commercial hot springs, and Gold Fork did not fail to deliver. Highway 55 was in pretty good shape, as was the road to Gold Fork on the way out. However, on the return drive the roads were an ice rink. There was a terrible wreck on 55 shortly before reaching Cascade that involved a pickup and Brundage Mountain transit bus.

Check Idaho road conditions and live webcams here

While enjoying Gold Fork, I actually witnessed people drinking massive amounts of water right out of the hot springs! I know Gold Fork has some of the best quality water around, but really?

The water always feels a little different here. Heavier, and softer. It might have something to do with the geothermal water that feeds the pools, which has an Alkaline Ph of +9, the highest in the state. Lithium is the most prominent mineral in the water followed by potassium, calcium, sodium, fluoride, chloride, arsenic and boron. Don't expect a lithium trip. A ridiculous amount of water would have to be ingested in order to have any affect. Apologies to the dude that 'swore' the 'lith' in the pool is what keeps bringing him back.

Gold Fork was thriving during my stay. The soak was sublime, and surrounding area and changing rooms clean. I was surprised to see people drinking alcohol in the pool. For some reason, I had thought this was not allowed here. The presence of a super drunk annoying guy that continuously made his way around the pool pestering anyone that didn't look or move away was testament to this. His choice of discussion topics were offensive to say the least, and hearing about how he is a regular visitor didn't help the matter. However, the majority of the other patrons were very respectful of the hot springs.

I was also surprised to see children running around, screaming, jumping into the pools and climbing up large rocks to jump in the upper pool. Unfortunately, the person staffing Gold Fork was very busy, and didn't get to venture out of the yurt much due to the continuous flow of patrons coming and going. Quite a stark contrast to my last visit. Even though the soak was stellar and I overall enjoyed the visit immensely, it really increased my urge to visit a hard to reach, way-back, backcountry hot springs.

Rating B+

Gold Fork Directions

Gold Fork is approx. 15 minutes from Cascade and 90 minutes from Boise, Idaho.

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 year-round.

Gold Fork Hours and Rates

Noon to 9 pm
Noon to 11 pm
Closed Tuesdays for cleaning

Adults: $8
Children (11 and under): $6
Swimsuit and towel rentals available along with some other items (hats, shirts, sunscreen etc.)
Please note: no credit/debit cards

View on Idaho Hot Springs (.com)


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