Kirkham Hot Springs - Hot Springs in Idaho


Kirkham Hot Springs is a landmark of sorts among Idaho's many wild hot springs.

Here, environmental destruction due to excessive popular concentration is a problem.

Mountainside pools

Of the large number of undeveloped hot springs scattered throughout the mountains north of Boise, one of the most famous is probably Kirkham Hot Springs.

Overview 01

You can see it across the South Fork Payette River while driving the Idaho State Highway 21; there is a huge hill of mineral deposits.

Overview 02

Because of its easy accessibility and spectacular appearance, it is very crowded on weekends.

Parking Lot 01

This caused serious environmental damage, and the US Forest Service, taking the situation seriously, closed the adjacent campground.

Fortunately, a day use is permitted.

Entrance Closed 01

Crossing the bridge on foot, which was closed to vehicles, I found the campground intact on the other side of the river.

Entrance Closed 02

Day use is $5.00 per vehicle。

I fed the bills into the fare box and posted the stub in my car parked on the shoulder of the road.

Signboard 01

Several small springs were found on the slope behind the former 16-site campground.

Let us call these mountain-side pools for convenience.

Parkside Pools 02

The spring water runs directly down the slope to a series of primitive rock pools.

Parkside Pools 01

The gushing point was nearly 122 degrees F, but the temperature had dropped to the proper level in the pools.

Parkside Pools 03

Clothing is required.

It is in an open area, so it will have to do.

Parkside Pools 04

Riverside pools

Hot water spills out of the mountainside pools and travels through a channel to the South Fork Payette River.

At its confluence are riverside pools.

Signboard 02

This is the heart of Kirkham Hot Springs.

An observation deck, interpretive signs, and a boardwalk were in place.

Signboard 03

Above the riverside pools were several other sources with higher temperatures and higher gushes.

Water Outlet 02

The boiling water gushing from the top of the hill was 157 degrees F.

Water Temp 01

It flowed down to the river, spreading out like a fan on the rocky slopes.

Water Outlet 01

Here, the water from the mountainside pools, sliding down from the left, mingled with the hot water coming from the hill on the right.

Waterfall 01

A tremendous sight of steam rising up from the water.

Looks like Yellowstone.
And you can get soaked.
Waterfall 02

The rocky terrain was very slippery due to the hot spring algae, so please walk with caution.

Soaking 04

There were several pools of hot water suitable for soaking in the cascade-like area, and people were dipping in the warm waterfalls.

Riverside Pools 01

The temperature of the pools varied from channel to channel, and there were places where the water was too hot to enter.

Soaking 02

There was also a rock pool close to the surface of the river.

Indeed, it was watered with river water, but with such clean water quality, I had no complaints.

Riverside Pools 02

I particularly liked this small pool, located downstream on the trail from the riverside pools.

Few people noticed its existence, and I was able to take the time to enjoy the tasteless, odorless, hot water.

Riverside Pools 04

With this spectacular view, it is no wonder it is too popular.

Riverside Pools 03


Kirkham Hot Springs, Boise National Forest, Idaho, U.S.

My rating

Type: Undeveloped (fee required)

Rule: Clothing required

Chemical use: No

Water temp: Up to 157 degrees F

Offical website

  • Writer

Hot Springer Ken

A hot spring enthusiast based in Japan. Toured over 300 North American hot springs while working in Texas from 2016 to 2022. For updates, visit X or Instagram!

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