A woman in a red swimsuit approaches steaming hot spring pools among large rocks on the bank of a river.

Exploring Sacajawea Hot Springs in Idaho | A Complete Guide

If you're looking for a tranquil yet adventurous getaway in the Idaho wilderness, our guide is here to help. Come explore Sacajawea Hot Springs, where nature's warmth meets the wild heart of the outdoors.

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Nestled deep in the rugged terrain of Idaho's Sawtooths lies Sacajawea Hot Springs. Secluded and pristine, it's a meeting place of natural geothermal waters and the icy cold South Fork Payette River. These springs invite enthusiasts and new visitors alike to unwind and experience the simple pleasure of a peaceful soak in unspoiled wilderness.

In this guide, we'll take you through the essentials of planning a visit, including how to get there, the best times to soak, and practical advice for your trip based on our own experience.

Soaking in Sacajawea Hot Springs

Overshadowed by more popular destinations in the area, such as Kirkham, Sunbeam or Pine Flats Hot Springs, a visit to Sacajawea feels like you've discovered a place that was meant to be kept secret.

The Sawtooth Mountains are a stunning feature of central Idaho's wilderness and home to dozens of natural hot springs, but most are located along much busier and slightly more accessible routes. If you've been tipped off about this location or happened upon the name while planning your trip, you're in for a treat.

Stretching for nearly 0.2 miles along the river, scalding hot water pours out from the rocky hillside at about 150 degrees. You'll find numerous rock-walled and sandy bottomed pools that have been assembled over the years by visitors and volunteers.

Finding a perfectly balanced pool to enjoy is the real trick here. The geothermal water, which can be extremely hot near its source, needs to be channeled in at just the right quantity. You can expect to spend a little time shifting around rocks or walking along the river bank, exploring different pools to find one at the most comfortable temperature.

A woman in a red swimsuit sits and relaxes in a steaming hot spring pool along the bank of a river with pine trees in the background.

Planning Your Visit to Sacajawea Hot Springs

One of the highlights of any visit to Boise National Forest and the Sawtooth Wilderness is discovering the many hot springs in the region. Sacajawea is certainly one that should be on your list, so let's get into the details on how to make the most of your time here.

The hot springs are located about 45 minutes from Lowman and an hour from Stanley. They also make for a great day trip from Boise, which is just over 2 hours away.

A woman in a red swimsuit stands silhouetted in the steam rising from a riverside natural hot spring poolA rock walled natural hot spring pool along the bank of the Payette River in Idaho

How to Get to Sacajawea Hot Springs

From Highway 21, turn onto Grandjean Road, also known as Forest Service Road 524. You'll travel east down this well maintained gravel road for about 5 miles.

There's limited parking along the road, with only a few narrow pull offs directly above the hot spring pools, but if you continue down Grandjean Road you'll find a larger parking area, able to accommodate several vehicles.

The GPS coordinates of the hot springs are 44.160178, -115.178152. You should expect to be without cell phone service in this area, so be sure to download offline maps to your phone before venturing out.

Looking up a steep hillside at a van parked above the cascading hot water of a natural hot spring

Best Time to Visit

Especially considering Sacajawea's dependence on lower river levels for a comfortable soak, you'll want to time your visit carefully. The region can see a generous amount of snowfall, which sometimes lingers into early summer. Spring runoff will affect the temperature in the pools by washing them out with cold river water.

The best time to visit to avoid impassable roads and cold pools is between June and October. We visited in early summer and the weather was perfect.

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What to Bring

We've put together a list of packing essentials for any hot springs visit so you'll be prepared.

Pack a bag. You won't have to hit the trail to reach these springs, but you may need to walk a ways from your vehicle, or decide to trek down the river bank. Packing a bag gives you a place to set everything when you arrive, keeps things dry, and helps prevent anything being left behind. If you don't already own a dry bag, we recommend these ones.

Sandals or water shoes. Something with tread for stepping onto slippery rocks or walking downhill on steep slopes.

An adequate amount of water. Soaking in the hot water can dehydrate you quickly, so don't overlook the basics.

Your swimsuit. Speaking of basics.

A towel. We love our quick drying and packable towels. They do a great job and we don't have to haul around bulky bath towels.

Warm dry clothes. Speaking from experience here. No matter how short of a distance you are from the car, you'll be thankful for an extra layer or two when you get out of the hot water and are hit by a cold breeze.

A headlamp or flashlight. Heading out early in the morning or planning a sunset soak? Bring along an adequate source of light for the trip back to the car.

Where to Stay

If you're planning a longer stay in the area and want a convenient location to explore from, there are several overnight options.

Grandjean Campground is less than two miles down the road. Campsites are available on a first come first serve basis at $16 per night.

Sawtooth Lodge is also just a stone's throw away. Close enough, in fact, to have a pool fed by the hot springs. Rustic cabins, RV parking, and camping options round out the experience.

There are numerous other campgrounds throughout Boise National Forest, including Bonneville and Pine Flats, where you'd have access to other unique hot springs. And, of course, there's our preferred method of finding free places to boondock.

Want to visit these hot springs? Pin it for later!

A woman in a red swimsuit walks towards a steaming hot pool along a river with text overlay that says 'Sacajawea Hot Springs'

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