This is a guide on how to have a fun weekend adventure to Lava Hot Springs, ID. This guide is meant for people of all abilities. When I say people of all abilities I mean those with disabilities, those with physical or mental limitations, and those who don’t have any limitations at all. I like to find hikes and activities that accommodate everyone.
When to visit
Lava Hot Springs has activities and adventures for every season. In the summer you can go tubing down the river, go to a swimming pool with extra high high dives and soak in the hot springs. In the winter you can have a relaxing weekend in the hot springs and cozy up in a tiny cabin. I wouldn’t say no to summer or winter at Lava Hot Springs, ID. It’s the town you visit for a short visit when coming from Idaho or surrounding states like Utah or just passing through to your next adventure.
What to bring
Along with your regular traveling needs these are a few things that you won’t regret bringing.
Towels and extra Towels – This is actually something we forgot to bring but luckily they had towels you could return at the hot springs but like anything I like to save a few bucks so bring towels and extra towels so you can go hop back in any time during the day with a day pass.
Water – I always say this for my guides especially when talking about hiking but this is definitely a must for the hot springs as well. Your body definitely gets dehydrated and I felt like I could drink a gallon of water after soaking in those springs. You wont regret it.
Snacks/food – Lava Hot Springs has a few good spots to grab some food but not as many as you would think. You can also save a few bucks by packing some snacks and meals for your trip in a little cozy cabin like we did.
Where to visit
Here is a breakdown of what we did on our short weekend to Lava Hot Springs.
Lava Hot Springs Foundation World Famous Hot Pools
We spent an evening in these hot pools and they were the perfect soak. When entering the main entrance building there was a ramp to make going up more accessible. They have several different pools that have different temperatures: 105 degrees, 106-112, then above 112. It was around 15 degrees outside when we got into the 106-112 degree hot pool and I recommend starting at the 105 one first because it is shocking haha. Everyone is different but at first I was shocked haha. I did end up trying the others but only for a short time. I did not regret going. It helped soothe my muscle aches so much and I could have stayed in for hours and hours.
Take a short 20 minute drive to Soda Springs from Lava Hot Springs to check out the Soda Springs Geyser. Geysers always remind me of my trip to Yellowstone so when I heard about this one I felt it was totally worth the short drive. Here is a short history of this geyser: In 1937 a businessman was searching to find hot water for a commercial bath house and health resort and on November 28 the drill struck the carbon dioxide gas chamber underground. This is when the geyser was born. After a few weeks, the city received a telegram from the secretary of the interior asking them to turn the geyser off because it was throwing the world famous Old Faithful off schedule haha. When I heard this I loved this geyser’s history even more since Yellowstone is my favorite national park. The geyser is now regulated to go off every hour on the hour.
Lava Hot Springs Olympic Swimming Complex
We weren’t able to visit the swimming pool this trip because we went in winter but in past years my family and I have gone. The big draw for us are the three diving boards. There are three different heights so it’s something that both kids and adults can enjoy. I would definitely recommend it if you visit in the summer months.
Tubing the Portneuf River
This is another great summer activity. There are several places in the area that rent tubes and one was even close to the KOA deluxe cabins that we stayed at.
Where to stay
When it comes to where to stay when I do little getaways I first consider budget friendly places and then think of my comfort such as do I want this to be more outdoorsy (so camping is obviously one of my favorites) or am I looking to relax and be somewhere cozy?
When I say cozy I really don’t need somewhere fancy. In the past my little family and I have stayed in those little cabins in trading posts or KOAs so we decided to try this KOA in Lava Hot Springs. It was pricier than we initially thought but we hoped that it would be at least as good if not better than other cabins that we have stayed in. Luckily it was in a very pretty location and we didn’t regret it.
Pros: The cabin situated on a small overlook with a river flowing below with the snow covered mountains as a backdrop. It had a beautiful deck with an outdoor fireplace, a BBQ, and a stone table and seats. We looked at the cabins around us and it looked like the layout was unique for each one.
Cons: There weren’t very clear directions at check in. We had called while we were on our way up saying that we were going to be getting in late after hours. There are two parts of this KOA: an east and west area that are separated. The cozy deluxe cabins that we stayed in were a little hidden with not much in the way of signs indicating that they were KOA cabins. The other area of the KOA showed a big KOA sign but where we stayed was down the road and behind a Thai food place and laundromat.
Where to Eat
The first thing to know is Lava Hot Springs is a small town with not too many choices for places to eat. This little town brings in tourists for its hot springs for sure. Here are a few places we enjoyed.
I recommend this restaurant for its large yummy scones. I would visit it again just for the scones. My sister in law had the straw-RAW-berry drink and said it was delicious. Catch this restaurant for a great brunch after sleeping in on a relaxing weekend or if you’re just going through town on to your next adventure.
The Royal Hotel and Pizzeria
I loved the energy of this pizzeria. We had a cool waitress and the food was pretty yummy. Remember, I am no food critic but I do like trying new places in fun places we have traveled. I got a calzone. I enjoyed it because of how much of the veggies they stacked onto it but it was pretty average in taste for pizza places.