Sssh. I’m about to tell you a secret. Okay, maybe it’s not a secret. Although you won’t likely hear about it anywhere else (even the web has limited resources on this place). I know I sound like I’m about to tell you about some treasure and then we all pretend we’re The Goonies and go on a wild goose chase, but let’s be honest if that was the case, there’s no way I’m sharing my treasure with the interwebz. No, what we’re talking about today is a natural treasure. (That sounds eerily close to the shitty Nicolas Cage movie) Should you ever find yourself in the western half of the United States (you should, at least once in your life), and you’re around Idaho, this is worth your time. Hell, this is even worth a road trip on its own.
Located in Pine Flats, Idaho–in seriously as far out in the middle of nowhere as you can get–is the most amazing natural hot springs you will ever see, I can almost guarantee it. It took us two hours down a dirt road – no gas stations, no nothing- to get to Pine Flats. I believe it was even longer to get to civilization leaving there (we kept heading eastward afterwards). You can find Pine Flats on a map easily, and you can easily see that there are hot springs there. But what the map, and not one website I’ve found has told about, is the hot spring waterfall.
I’m not going to tell you exactly how to find this place, because I think that’s part of the adventure. Someone told me about it before my last trip west. We got to Pine Flats and followed the trail down past a sign that said “hot springs” and sure enough, about a half mile down, there were some pretty awesome natural springs. But it wasn’t as the guy had described. So we all spread out around the area to look for the fabled “waterfall” past the regular springs.
I was standing on the edge of a sheer cliff looking into the passing river below, and I could hear water falling below me, but there was no source. The hot springs that all the signs had pointed to were behind us, and I was surrounded by nothing but grass and rocks. I called the fellas over and we found an area we could climb down. As I went around the corner, the sound got louder, and then- I proceeded to bust my ass on a shitload of big rocks. (seriously be careful, that shit is treacherous) But after that, I saw it. Pouring straight out of the middle of the cliff was a (guesstimate here) 50-ft waterfall which fell into what looked like a natural jacuzzi. And it felt like one too. Well, aside from the rocks in your ass.
We came to the conclusion that it was the most perfect spot in the U.S., albeit without the absence of beer and women. We also came to the conclusion that most likely a lot of crazy Native American sex and mushroom-fueled parties went down there. At least if I was a Native American, that’s what I would have done. It’s not like there was Playstation.
Another cool coincidence is that a river runs right up to the side of this thing. So we spent a lot of time jumping in the freezing ass river and then jumping back into the “hot tub” so-to-speak. (which I’m sure was just absolutely the healthiest thing you could ever do for your heart).
One more thing worth noting- Pine Flats is also a campground. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to camp there, but I imagine it would be pretty sweet to slide down to the hot springs at night and have a few beers by a small fire. If you do decided to do that though, BE CAREFUL and bring a good flashlight. Getting down to that thing is no joke. And make sure you bring all your beer cans back with you. No one likes a litterbug!
All-in-all, definitely in the top 3 coolest places I’ve been out west. And I’ve seen just about everything out there. Except, of course, for a Native American sex and mushroom party.
Pine Flats, Idaho. Check it out. And when you get there, follow the signs. You’ll find the hot springs everyone goes to. But those aren’t what you’re looking for. Keep walking until you either hear the water or fall off the cliff and meet it. 😉
Peace and happy travels,