Is there a better way to chase away the gray-sky blues than by taking a therapeutic dip in hot, natural mineral waters? The West boasts some of the country’s best cold-season soaks. The scenery? You can’t beat it.
Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska
Northeast of Fairbanks, soakers relax in a rock-rimmed pool at 106 degrees and watch the northern lights dance with the stars. Auroras are recorded in that area on average 243 nights a year, though not typically in summer. For a taste of winter in any season, check out the Chena Hot Springs Resort's year-round ice museum, replete with a spiral staircase made of ice.
Vichy Springs Resort, California
Discover fizzy fun a morning’s drive north of San Francisco, where visitors stretch out in 150-year-old cement bathtubs enjoyed by Mark Twain and Jack London for the relaxing effect of the carbonated mineral waters at Vichy Springs Resort.
Kirkham Hot Springs, Idaho
“My favorite time to soak is during a snowstorm,” says Boise National Forest’s Elena Miller, who often visits these natural springs along Idaho’s South Fork of the Payette River. Look for warmth-seeking deer, elk, and river otters while you soak.
Bozeman and Chico Hot Springs, Montana
Twelve soaks, ranging from 59 to 106 degrees, make Bozeman Hot Springs a pool hopper’s heaven. Or try the roomy, spring-fed pools at Chico Hot Springs Resort north of Yellowstone National Park.
1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa, Nevada
In the 1800s, the geothermal waters south of Carson City, Nevada, were said to cure “rheumatism and scrofulous affections.” Today, the pools at 1862 David Walley’s Hot Springs Resort & Spa soothe the sore muscles of après-ski crowds from Lake Tahoe.
Summer Lake Hot Springs, Oregon
At this rustic southern Oregon retreat, soakers take in gorgeous valley views while relaxing under the stars in rock-lined outdoor pools. A 1920s timber-frame bathhouse holds a spring-fed swimming pool.
Crystal Hot Springs, Utah
In view of snowcapped mountains near Honeyville, Utah, soakers warm up in a kidney-shaped pool with 100-degree, mineral-laden water, a 110-degree waterfall, and island benches. The resort also offers several hot tub–style pools of 102 to 104 degrees.
Granite Hotsprings Pool, Wyoming
Jagged Wyoming peaks look close enough to touch at this site on national forest land south of Jackson. The 10-mile ride in, by snowmobile or dogsled in cold months, is half the fun. The springs close on April 1 for the snowmelt and reopen around May 20. Check road conditions.