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Best Hot Springs in the US

Take Your Clothes Off: Lonely Planet's Picks For Hot Springs Hot Spots

Editor’s note: Summer travel season has officially begun! The following guest post was written by Robert Reid, the US Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. He will be guest blogging on Savvy for the next two months, helping you find some great ideas of how to get your vacation on this Summer.

There are so many places in the US to spend a long weekend, or even a week or two, that it can become overwhelming to decide. It’s why a lot of people just go to the same vacation rental every year and don’t change it up. But I think it’s a lot more fun to try somewhere new and have unique adventures. We’ve started a website called 15 Weekends of Summer to get you inspired, and every two weeks I’ll pick one of those themes, tell you some of my favorite places to go in relation to that theme and then let you know how to download a free detailed itinerary of our favorite summer trip within that theme. Sound good? Let’s start with “Take Your Clothes Off”."

The US is full of geothermic activity so why not go hot spring hunting this summer? Soaking in hot water appeals to almost everyone and there’s a wide variety of experiences you can have—from spending a weekend at a resort to hiking out to an isolated spring in the middle of nowhere. Hot springs occur when water is heated from within the earth’s crust and then forced up to the surface. Some feel the water has healing properties due to its high mineral content. Most of the hot springs in the US are in the west, so for some of you, a road trip is definitely in order.


In Northern California, you can find affordable resorts within just hours of the San Francisco Bay Area. Wilbur Hot Springs and Orr Hot Springs are two favorites: both provide either indoor accommodation (private rooms and a bunk house) or camp sites with a shared kitchen to prepare your meals. The tubs are clothing-optional and thus your space is respected — any inappropriate behavior will get you kicked out pronto. Although rustic, these resorts have amenities like massage, yoga and plenty of hiking trails to the adjacent wilderness.

For more hot spots you don't want to miss out on, read on.

Idaho is a hot springs hot spot, with over 130 human-friendly pools sprinkled all over the state. Many of these are located in the National Forest itself and are adjacent to developed campgrounds such as Bonneville and Pine Flats. This is family-friendly soaking so bring your bathing suit! For the more adventurous, get online to one of the many hot spring enthusiast sites where you can research remote hot springs only accessible by longer hikes. Bring your GPS!

Lastly, Truth and Consequences is a kooky little spa town in New Mexico situated on the banks of the Rio Grande. Its streets are lined with crystal shops and other New Age gems (pun definitely intended) and from swanky resorts to funky hostels, there are dozens of places to choose from. You’ll have no problem finding your ideal relaxing spot and you may even be tempted to “drop out” for a while and become one of the off-the-grid artists or sustainable-living eco-warriors yourself.

To download a free mini-guide to some of our favorite hot spring spas and hikes, along with many other ideas for summer trips, go to Lonely Planet's 15 Weekends of Summer website. In the meantime, if you have any favorite hot spring or spa get-aways, please let us know in the comments!

Image Source: Thinkstock
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