Yellowstone National Park’s most popular soaking area. A 6-foot-wide stream of hot water plunges over travertine rocks into a 50-yard-long band of thermal soaking pools along the Gardner River. The largest discharge of thermal water in Yellowstone, Boiling River is also the park’s most popular soaking location, at times accommodating 150 people in the warm water. The attractiveness of this soak is no doubt attributable to its easy access from the North Entrance Road, its beautiful location, and the awesome soaking opportunities. Geologists suspect that the Boiling River’s 100-yard channel of 140-degree-F hot water is the underground flow from Mammoth Hot Springs, some 2 miles to the south. The 6-foot-wide stream pours over travertine ledges into the swift-flowing Gardner River, where it mixes with cold river water. The water level in the Gardner River determines the temperature of your soak. You may encounter a blast of hot water on your back, while at the same time your toes are shivering in the icy river water, but most bathers eventually find just the right spot for their thermal tastes. Primitive.
Granite Hot Springs
A picturesque soaking pool located at an elevation of 7,000 feet in the Gros Ventre Mountains. The hot springs are increasingly popular with winter visitors. Tucked into a pristine valley in the Gros Ventre Mountains, the warm water pool at Granite Hot Springs offers one of the most picturesque soaks in the Rocky Mountains. The west side of the 45-foot by 75-foot pool juts up against large granite boulders often covered with snowdrifts in the winter. Bathers have great views to the east and south down the Granite Creek Valley. The pool depth varies from 2 to 3 feet at the shallow end to almost 8 feet at the deeper end. The changing house, a spartan log cabin, is located 50 yards north of the pool; after soaking, wintertime bathers will have a bracing dash back to their clothes. In the springtime, cold water from the more than 400 inches of yearly snowfall percolates into the ground to mix with the hot springs water. At the height of snowmelt, the temperature in the pool may dip to the mid-80s F. The pool temperature steadily increases after the snowmelt has ceased, reaching a peak of 110 to 112 degrees F by midwinter, perfect for cold weather soaks.
Granite Falls Hot Springs
Several shallow soaking pools and a hot waterfall located just below beautiful Granite Falls in the Gros Ventre Mountains. Hard-core soaking enthusiasts can combine a morning of steamy immersion in the primitive Granite Falls hot pools with an afternoon of bliss in the more developed Granite Hot Springs pool 0.5 mile to the north. The cold waters of Granite Creek cascade directly over one of the largest fault lines in the entire Rocky Mountain region, forming the breathtaking Granite Falls. Stretching for more than 50 miles from east to west, the Cache Creek Fault caused a tremendous upthrust of the surrounding rock layers millions of years ago, forming the entire Gros Ventre mountain range. Shifting of the fault created subterranean fractures in the rock strata that allow surface water to circulate and heat deep in the earth. This heated water returns to the surface along other cracks, creating both Granite Falls Hot Springs and the Granite Hot Springs pool, which lies just upstream from the falls. Granite Falls Hot Springs consists of a 125-degree-F seep that emerges from a crack in the rock wall about 20 feet above the creekbed. Thermal water flows from the seep into a shallow pool next to the creek, but this pool may be too hot for soaking. A few yards upstream on Granite Creek are two other soaking pools, both rendered a more comfortable 95 to 110 degrees F by the diversion of cold water from Granite Creek to mix with the thermal water. All of the soaking pools are flooded during the high spring runoff from Granite Creek, and in very wet years the pools may be unusable until late summer or fall. Primitive.
Firehole River Swimming Area
An old-fashioned swimming hole warmed by the runoff from distant hot springs and geysers. The Firehole River Swimming Area has long been a popular summer recreation spot for visitors to Yellowstone, especially on those few days in July and August when the air temperature pushes over 90 degrees F. The tall cliffs along the Firehole River surround a deep warm water pool between swift-flowing rapids. Some bathers enter the current above and float down into the calm water of the pool. The hills surrounding the swimming area are covered with the burned skeletons of lodgepole pine trees, mute evidence of the fires that swept through Yellowstone in the summer of 1988. Primitive.