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Ultimate Guide to Kirkham Hot Springs Idaho for a Memorable Soak

Jun 27, 2022

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Did you know that Idaho has about 130 soakable hot spring pools? Like, whaaaaat is life? BUT, it’s a bit unrealistic to think that you’ll take a dip in all of those, right? That’s why I want to turn your attention to Kirkham Hot Springs, Idaho.

If you have time for ONE hot soak in Idaho, you have to make sure it’s this one.

In this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about Kirkham. From experience, I’m detailing everything you need to know and what to expect.

So let’s dive right in!

And when you’re done with this post, make sure you read my other Idaho guides!

Let’s go!

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links which means I earn a small percentage of every purchase at no cost to you.

Where to Stay

Boise, ID is about 1 hour and 50 minutes from Kirkham and will be the largest city near Kirkham.

Because you can no longer camp at Kirkham, your best bet for visiting is to find accommodations in Boise and take a day trip to Kirkham Hot Springs.

Alternatively, you can stay in the quiet town of Stanley, ID. It’s about 50-minutes from Kirkham.

While it doesn’t have as many resources as a large city like Boise, staying in Stanley will give your trip to Kirkham a mountain, getaway kind of vibe—not a bad idea for some!

At the end of the day, where you stay depends on the kind of experience you want to have.

Below, you’ll find my recommendations for where to stay. I’ve included one Stanley property for you to consider—especially if you’re craving a mountain retreat!:

Salmon River Home >>Click here to book!—($$$$)—If you’re looking for a place that’ll make you feel like royalty, this dreamy Salmon River home in Stanley, ID is for you. Spend your mornings with a hot cup of coffee, watching the sunrise over the Sawtooths in your little gazebo. With 4 bedrooms, there’s enough space inside for large parties to come together and get some privacy after a long day of exploring. It’s the perfect place for a mountainside getaway.

Pet-Friendly Boho Home>>Click here to book!—($$)—If you need a budget-friendly stay in Boise that doesn’t skimp out on comfort, this pet-friendly home is for you! With 1 bedroom, it’s ideal for couples and small parties. And the quiet neighborhood will give you some of the best Zs of your life.

Stylish Getaway with Sauna>>Click here to book!—($$$)—Okay, if you want to feel like you’re staying in luxury without the price tag, book this stylish getaway right now. With beautiful Smeg appliances, a personal sauna, and fluffy blankets BEGGING to give you a hug, you’ll never want to leave! Not to mention, it’s about 7-minutes from downtown Boise, but honestly, that’s ideal. You’ll still get the benefits of the city center, but you’ll be far enough to enjoy some peace and quiet when you come back for the night.

Click here to book your stay in Boise!

What to Pack

No matter what time of year you visit Kirkham Hot Springs, you will want some of these items with you! 

Speaking from experience, here’s what to wear to the springs:

A Reusable Water Bottle—I recommend bringing a large Hydroflask so you don’t dehydrate! Click here!

Sturdy Sandals—You will love having a pair of Chacos like these with you. Many of the springs have a sandy, rocky bottom, so you’ll need to protect your feet. >>Click to buy!

A Cute Swimsuit—Duh. A swimsuit is a must when you’re exploring hot springs. Click here to shop my faves!

Towel—Because most of the springs are in the middle of nowhere, you will want a towel. I love this super stylish one >>Click here!

Now let’s cover the must-knows before heading out on your Kirkham adventure!

Hot Spring Etiquette

To keep these natural springs beautiful and OPEN for folks like us to enjoy, we have to respect a few rules:

Take Out Your Trash—I’ll never forget when Scott (the BF and I) found underwear left at a spring. Ew. Please take your trash out. It’s not difficult! And trash can actually clog up the spring’s hot water flow, which drops the overall temperature!

Save the Bath for Home—Hot springs can be easily damaged. When you use soaps, shampoos, etc., it can damage the spring. Plus, the water smells like sulfur farts, which is NOT the kind of water you want to use a hair mask in.

Respect the Nude—Seems like a joke, BUT at many natural hot springs, clothing is optional. So if someone is naked…they have a right to be. If that’s not your style (it’s not mine, haha) that’s okay! Just give the person their privacy.

Be Mindful of Capacity—While Kirkham hot springs is fairly large, it’s made up of a series of small pools. Some of these pools can comfortably fit 4 people in them. So try to make space where you can for others to enjoy the spring too!

That wasn’t too bad, right? So now, we can get into Kirkham specifics!

Season and Hours

The season for the Kirkham Hot Springs area is April through November. As of right now, you cannot park in the campground.

You must pay a $5 fee to park outside the camp area. Once parked, you’ll walk through the campground gate and down the bridge to the springs.

The campground is closed because of the influx of litter and will remain closed until further notice.

Because Kirkham is regulated, the hours to visit are 7:00am to 9:00pm. So make sure you get here at a decent time to maximize your soak!

Read more about the campground status on USDA.gov.

Best Time to Visit

Coming in the fall (late September to October) is a great time to visit Kirkham hot springs. You can surely visit after the fact, but you may have more crowds!

With its proximity to Boise, ID, it may be better for you to get there as soon as it opens.

Also, try to visit on a weekday, so you have fewer crowds to worry about.

Directions

Kirkham Hot Springs is in the middle of nowhere in the Boise National Forest, which makes it much more special. 

You’ll need a car to get here, so be prepared to drive. 

Below are some driving times from popular Idaho cities:

  • From Boise, Idaho: about 1hr 45min
  • From McCall, Idaho: about 2hrs
  • From Stanley, Idaho: about 1hr

These directions are straight from the USDA site:

“From Boise, Idaho, travel north along State Highway 55 to Banks, Idaho, approximately 38 miles.

At Banks, turn right (east) onto State Highway 17 (Banks-Lowman Road) and travel 31 miles to Lowman, Idaho.

At Lowman, turn left at the intersection of State Highway 17 and State Highway 21. Proceed east towards Stanley, Idaho along State Highway 21

The campground is located 5 miles further at milepost 77.”

Once parked, you’ll have to find the springs. Let’s talk about that!

Getting to the Soaking Pools 

You’ll want to walk past the main gate as soon as you park outside the campground. Then, towards the righthand side of the grounds, you’ll see a bridge.

Taking this bridge down towards the water will lead you to the soaking pools.

It’s that easy! No hiking is required.

And remember, a $5 fee ($5 per vehicle per day) is associated with visiting.

Camping at Kirkham Hot Springs

As previously stated, camping at Kirkham is currently unavailable. The springs are open for day use only.

This happened after an influx of litter took over the campground! So please pick up your trash, so the springs don’t close for good.

At this point, you know all the “musts” about visiting Kirkham hot springs—woohoo!

What to Expect at Kirkham Hot Springs

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s a moody day, and you’re in the middle of Idaho’s lush forests. The clouds are sitting low and bouncing in between the trees. 

You park in a rather lackluster parking lot to find a small orange bridge at the end of it. You walk down the bridge and find yourself transported to a steamy wonderland. 

The sound of hot water rushing off a small cliff gets you excited for what’s ahead. You walk over some damp rocks and find multiple powder blue pools full of water from the falls above, just waiting for you to jump in.

Sounds dreamy right?

Now, let’s get into some FAQs about the area!

Frequently Asked Questions About Kirkham

Are Kirkham Hot Springs actually hot?—Yes! The water at Kirkham ranges from 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. There are pools with various temperatures there.

Is clothing optional at Kirkham? Clothing is optional at Kirkham. However, it may not be recommended because the springs are viewable from the main highway. In other words, there’s not much privacy here.

Is Kirkham Hot Springs worth visiting?—Yes! Kirkham is worth the visit. The water is hot, the area is beautiful, and they’re very accessible.

Are dogs allowed at Kirkham? No, dogs are not allowed at Kirkham Hot Springs. The water is much too hot for them.

Nearby Attractions

Done soaking for the day? 

Here are some more suggestions on what to do around Kirkham Hot Springs! 

Visit Pine Flats Hot Springs—Located along the same road as Kirkham, Pine Flats Hot Springs features a waterfall that feeds into a few small pools! It’s an excellent place for a mid-day soak, and you’ll have incredible views when you go!

PS: You can read more about Pine Flats and other Idaho hot springs in my blog here.

Hike Alice Lake—Want a bit more of an adventure? You can choose to hike Alice Lake! Alice Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Idaho because of its epic views of the Sawtooth Mountains. You will most likely need to soak in a hot spring after this backpacking trip, so maybe visit Kirkham after your hike?

Spend the Day in Stanley, Idaho—Stanley, Idaho, is a small mountain town with a population of about 70 people. Can you believe that? It’s known for its proximity to the Sawtooths and for more hot springs that you really must see to believe. Go here and relax by the Salmon River or have a relaxing stay at Mountain Village Resort!

Meander Around Boise, ID—Boise, Idaho, is the largest town closest to Kirkham Hot Springs. There are some fabulous restaurants in town and an opera house, so you can spend the day exploring Boise if you want to!

Payette Lake—Another great Idaho gem, Payette Lake, is located in McCall, Idaho, and is the perfect outdoor escape. This lake’s shoreline is littered with beautifully deep yellow and orange foliage during the fall season. Payette Lake is a fabulous option for folks looking to have a picnic or sunbathe by a shoreline.

Overall, Kirkham Hot Springs is a dream and should be on your USA bucket list (because we all need one of those, HA).

If you want to learn about more springs you’d probably enjoy, check out my other guide below!

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!