Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho’s Elevated Oasis

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Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho’s Elevated Oasis

man and woman hiking in idaho to Goldbug Hotsprings
This weekend some friends kidnapped me and drug me into nature– or I was just invited and so stoked to go that I could only sleep a couple hours before we hit the road.
Goldbug Hot Springs near Salmon, Idaho was the destination of choice– and it was a first for all of us. In the photo above, you can see the ‘V’ in the mountain ridge.

It is at that point where the hot springs are located. It’s approximately a 2.1 mile hike– which has some challenging / steep parts, but it is very doable.
If you need directions on how to reach Goldbug Hot Springs – IdahoHotSprings.com has a very good writeup. That is what we used to guide us to the trailhead. We came from Missoula, Montana.

Couple hiking to Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho
We decided to pack in all of our camping gear to make this a full experience. After all, hot springs are pretty phenomenal when the stars come out.

man and woman sitting around campfire
There are some pretty fantastic camping spots about halfway, while the trail is still mostly flat. Heavy tree cover and being located near the creek makes this an optimal location. However, we wanted to be as close to the hot springs as possible– so we kept trekking up.

valley leading up to Goldbug hot springs

As you begin to gain elevation, you truly see the potential that Goldbug Hot Springs has to offer. The view only continues to progress from here

waterfalls on the way to Goldbug Hot Springs
This waterfall oasis truly captivated me. I couldn’t even capture all of the falls in one photo, and this was shot with a 10mm lens. This is located right below the hot springs and it truly a sight to see. You can’t miss it. It’s off to the left of the trail right when you come upon wooden stair boxes.

couple sitting in Goldbug Hot Springs with waterfalls
However, the actual Goldbug Hot Springs almost puts that oasis to shame. Above the waterfalls here is another hot spring– which is the hottest out of all. The ones in the middle were just amazing for the fact that there are multiple waterfalls of hot water rushing into these pools. Below are yet more pools to relax in.

man and woman in Goldbug Hot Springs
The pools are of decent size and can easily accommodate a group. The waterfalls are near 15 feet tall and the surroundings do not disappoint one bit.

man and woman sitting in Goldbug Hot Spring overlooking mountains
As you can see, they are perched on a cliff overlooking the valley that you have to trek through to reach these hot springs. It makes you really appreciate the hike in– and gives your potentially sore muscles a much appreciated relaxation session

peppermint schnapps with waterfall in the background
Peppermint Schnapps aided in the relaxation process. Not the best while warm, but since it is now officially autumn it seemed very fitting. Remember, keep glass out of the hot springs; this is a plastic bottle.

outlaw brewery IPA beer can with mountains

Outlaw IPA by Payette Brewing also aided in the refreshment process. While having many attributes, this IPA contains a slight hint of pine– which was very appropriate, considering we were surrounded by pine trees. It’s brewed in Idaho and I have yet to see it in Missoula.

camping spot in the mountains

After a nice soak, we decided we should setup camp before the hot springs fully engulfed us. I decided that a sleeping mat and a well insulated sleeping bag would do the trick. There are a handful of flattened areas above Goldbug Hot Springs that are well suited for tents, hammocks and sleeping bags– along with a couple fire pits.

man standing next to tent in the mountains with a courage to explore t shirt
My friends Alex and Rae chose the tent route– which led to a pretty rad spot right below the sheer mountain walls.

man and woman standing nature with a courage to explore shirt
After camp was setup– we figured a proper exploration hike was in order so we could fully take in our surroundings and wear out our legs a little bit more.

sunflare over the mountain tops at gold bug hot springs in idaho
Once again– the view was breathtaking. This entire area is something that needs to be experienced in person. I was fortunate enough to have a camera along, but nothing compares to your own two eyes.

sunset over goldbug hot springs

As the sun began to disappear behind the mountain peaks– we started a fire, cooked some dinner and then gave the hot springs another soak. I left my camera behind for that portion so I could completely unwind.

stars over goldbug hot springs in idaho
However, that didn’t stop me from taking in the stars before I submerged myself. The moon was so bright that the sky remained lit pretty well and the cliffs had plenty of detail.

trees above mountain campsite
After a late soak– we called it a night so we could be feeling refreshed in the morning. I woke up to a canopy of trees overhead. A crisp morning, but not too chilly to make me want to stay huddled in my sleeping bag and cry.

hammock strung between trees at goldbug hot springs
I had slept very well and was awake around 7:30am, but this fellow camper had me wishing that I would have brought my hammock with. There will most certainly be a next time though.

morning light over goldbug hot springs
The first morning glow over the adjacent peak makes the morning a perfect time to soak. Minimal people, crisp air and a fantastic view. This is from the very top pool.

waterfalls of goldbug hot springs in Idaho
Here you can see the multitude of waterfalls that make up the main portion of Goldbug Hot Springs. You don’t even have to be in the water to fully appreciate this secluded location.

man sitting on cliff by Goldbug Hot Springs
I ended my morning perched on a cliff, overlooking this absolutely stunning location that I’ve had on my bucket-list for years. This most certainly won’t be the last time that I will immerse myself in Goldbug Hot Springs– and if you ever find yourself in the area, I urge you to experience this elevated oasis for yourself.

For even more Idaho Hot Spring adventures, dive into our writeup on Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in Idaho’s panhandle.
Jerry Johnson Hot Springs – Nature’s Hot Tubs


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Ross M Perkins

Creative Wanderlusting Mechanic at Wanderlust Northwest
Thinker of stuff, Doer of things. There isn't much that makes me more happy than finding myself in new surroundings with camera in hand. Roadtrips are standard life procedures and the maps in my home are there to inspire me to travel even further. When it comes down to it, I just really like nature..