While most people associate Montana with erosion-sculpted hills and alpine vistas, visitors to the “Big Sky” may be surprised to know that this mountainous state is full of hot springs.
The bulk of these hot springs are primarily situated throughout the western portion of the state, tucked in nearly every corner of the Rockies from Yellowstone National Park in the south to Glacier National Park in the north.
Wherever you may roam in this vast state, you’re never too far away from a chance to soak. And for those looking to add a little adventure during the winter, visiting any one of these ski resorts within 3 hours of Bozeman is sure to round out your hot springs vacation.
Here are among the top hot springs in Montana, in no specific order:
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs – Sato
Similar to just about every other popular hot spring in Montana, Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs is developed, channeling their naturally heated water into comfortable pools where soakers can enjoy its benefits.
The history of Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs is an interesting one, starting in the late 1930s when a prospector drilling for oil tapped into a gushing well of hot water. Eventually, the healing properties of this mineral-rich spring were discovered, and Sleeping Buffalo began to draw visitors looking for a remedy to their ailments.
Today those same waters are enclosed in a comfortable resort and spa with all the amenities of modern convenience.
The primary draw to Sleeping Buffalo is the mineral-rich main pool, which has a steady temperature of 108°F and flows at 900 gallons per minute. There is also a separate hot tub and sauna to round out the relaxation options.
There are cabins and a campground located on-site, along with a concessions stand, as no outside food or drink is allowed.
Spa Hot Springs Motel & Clinic – White Sulphur Springs
Anytime the word ‘clinic’ is in the name, you know it’s going to be good for your health. Since the mid-1800s, Spa Hot Springs Motel & Clinic, located in central-ish Montana, has been a destination for those seeking relief in its healing waters.
Long known by the local Native American tribes for its healing properties, a Montana local became sold on the idea that this would be an ideal venture, and constructed a cabin on-site. Over a century later, the modern iteration is a spa/motel adorned with modern amenities and lovely murals.
Overnight guests, and those who pay the day fee, can choose between soaking in one of the two outdoor pools or indoor pool, with temperatures hovering around 103°F, 98°F, and 105°F, respectively.
The proprietors at Spa Hot Springs Motel & Clinic pride themselves on not adding any chemicals to the already rich blend of minerals occurring naturally. In fact, the waters here are sometimes compared to the much more famous hot springs in Baden Baden, Germany, though locals will say that Montana has the slight edge.
Broadwater Hot Springs Fitness – Helena
If you happen to be visiting Montana’s capital, you’d do well to schedule a trip to Broadwater Hot Springs and Fitness, just a ten-minute ride outside the “bustle” of the downtown area. The freeform pools come in a variety of shapes and temperatures, with some fitness-friendly options available as well.
The ‘Springs Pool’ is the property’s showcase, ranging from 94°F to 102°F, depending on the season. The ‘Soaker Pool’, replete with benches on the sides for when you need a break, generally hovers around 97 °F and 102°F (again, depending on the season).
Meanwhile, the ‘Recreational Pool’, which is most suited for those with young children, varies anywhere between 84°F and 93°F. Furthermore, both the soaker and springs pools feature hot tubs.
As the name would suggest, Broadwater Hot Springs and Fitness has various fitness activities are available on-site, and, at times, are even incorporated with the hot springs experience. If you’re feeling a little hungry after all that exercise, there’s an in-house taproom and grill to sate your cravings.
Norris Hot Springs – Norris
Referred to as “the Water of the Gods”, the history of Norris Hot Springs follows the typical storyline of Montana’s other soaking destinations: it was long-known for its healing properties by local Native American tribes, ‘discovered’ by miners and prospectors passing through, and finally converted into a destination in its own right.
Boasting a low sulfur concentration and high mineral content, the unique 30′ x 40′ pool at Norris Hot Springs is composed of fir timbers and has a flow rate of 60 gallons per minute. While the temperature at the source is a constant 120°F, a simple spraying and circulation system allows for the pool to stay under 100°F in summer and up to 106°F in winter.
Norris Hot Springs doesn’t have its own onsite accommodations per se, however, you can camp in their designated campground. On select dates, you can even enjoy live music performed poolside in the geometric tented dome that functions as a stage.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort – Anaconda
Heading south from the Helena region into the Rockies, the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is an upscale option for those looking for an all-around relaxing destination to go along with a hot spring soak.
There are both indoor and outdoor pools, with their accompanying hotter and cooler versions. The regular indoor pool ranges in temperature between 88°F and 94°F while the smaller, hotter version hovers around 100F to 104°F.
The outdoor pools follow the same pattern and temperatures, just with a little more scenery to enjoy. There’s also a massive 5-story tall waterslide that empties into the outdoor pool. Soaking in the hot springs is just part of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort’s allure.
Guests can enjoy accommodations in a wide array of rooms and suites, with several fine dining options on the property. Duffers will enjoy a round on the on-site resort golf course, while spa treatments are available for those looking for less strenuous activity.
Jackson Hot Springs Lodge – Jackson
If a high-end hot spring is not your thing, head west to the Big Hole Valley near the border with Idaho for a much more down-to-earth soaking experience at Jackson Hot Springs Lodge. With basic cabins and rooms available, this is a chance to immerse yourself in a stress-free environment that only a remote place like this can offer.
The main pool is chemical-free, mineral-rich, and geothermally heated with temperatures between 100°F and 106°F. With a fireplace nearby, and a cozy, quaint ambiance, Jackson Hot Springs makes for a comfortable base of operations for exploring all the areas many outdoor activities.
Elkhorn Hot Springs – Polaris
Still in the neighborhood bordering Idaho, Elkhorn Hot Springs Resort is another rustic soaking destination that strikes a wonderful balance between seclusion and comfort.
The main hub is the lodge, which dates back to 1918 and offers both overnight accommodations and meals in the on-site restaurant and bar. There are also additional lodging options located in the charming, rustic cabins found on the property.
The main attraction at Elkhorn Hot Springs is, of course, the geothermically-heated pools. The outdoor pools, which are surrounded by a thicket of lovely evergreens, range in temperature from 92°F to 102°F while the indoor wet sauna can hover between 104°F and 106°F.
With such a strong natural flow of water, both indoor and outdoor pools require no additional chemicals, leaving you with a truly natural hot spring experience.
The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs – Lolo
Moving on to Montana’s gorgeous northwest, The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs, in the national forest of the same name, is a comfortable option for both soaking and relaxing among nature. With two pools in a grotto-like setting, you can unwind in the tranquil waters and secluded ambiance.
The lodge itself offers the usual gamut of amenities and activities one would expect from a wilderness lodge. There’s a rustic aesthetic that pervades both guest rooms and public areas alike. And if you weren’t really sure you were in the Wild West, the saloon and casino next door at the Lolo Hot Springs Resort ought to convince you.
The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs boasts an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor mineral pool, both of which are open year-round with temperatures ranging from 102°F to 106°F degrees. There’s also an onsite disc golf course and business center.
Additionally, activities such as snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and other outdoor adventures can be arranged at Lolo Hot Springs Resort for those wishing to make the most of their time in this mountain paradise.
Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort – Plains
To round out our list, we’ll head even further northwest to Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, located about an hour north of Missoula. This upmarket property features naturally-heated pools segmented into individually calibrated temperatures, which can vary from 89°F to 106°F. Furthermore, visitors can hop in the ice pool, whose frigid water is meant to stimulate improved circulation for those brave enough to take the plunge.
Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort also offers a wide array of lodging options, with cabins featuring river or canyon views, mountainside cabins, and even two adults-only lodges. Each room has a classic rustic motif, with sitting areas and outdoor porches to take in the peaceful views.
There’s also both a tavern and restaurant on-site for casual and fine dining options, depending on the time of day and your preference.
With hot springs ranging from high end to rustic, a soak in any one of Montana’s geothermally heated pools is sure to help you feel rejuvenated. No matter where you go, you are certain to find something that fits your exact needs.