Hours/Season: Open Sunday - Friday: 12pm - 9pm,
Saturday: 12pm - 11pm (closed on Tuesdays)
Region: Donnelly, Idaho
About Gold Fork Hot Springs in Idaho
Nestled in a
mountain forest near Donnelly, Cascade and McCall Idaho lies the
holy grail of all commercial or privately owned hot springs in
Idaho. The water at Gold Fork Hot Springs is top-quality; meaning it
is 100% natural, has an incredible alkaline rating and contains other minerals that
are great for the skin and body. Even the wooden decking is
all-natural and has a 50yr life span - untreated. It's the same wood
used on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. I've qualified many hot
springs, and Gold Fork is one of my favorite commercial soaks.
are 6 incredibly designed pools to soak in, and if you enjoy natural
backcountry hot springs you will feel right at home here. The water
is smooth and slick, featuring an Alkaline Ph of +9. Not to mention
that all 6 pools flow-through in 4 hours! Lithium is the most prominent mineral in the water followed by
potassium, calcium, sodium, fluoride, chloride, arsenic and boron.
Gold Fork has many repeat visitors that come for the healing
properties of the water. Stories of folks traveling up to the hot
springs once a week to soak and fill up a couple jugs of water are
common here, as are stories of ailments and illness - gone, after
soaking in Gold Fork's healing waters.
owners strive to keep the hot springs and surrounding area as
natural as possible. The hot springs are well monitored, and
disruptive soakers are politely asked to leave. Although there are
no overnight/camping accommodations on-site, the owners do have
plans for a few rooms in the future. There is however, plenty of
great National Forest camping nearby, along with an assortment of
hotels and motels in Donnelly, Cascade and McCall.
Gold Fork is a 90 minute drive from Boise
and a mere 15 minutes from Cascade. It's open and accessible
year-round, including all holidays.
Gold Fork also utilizes
geothermal energy; the boardwalk and many places around the hot
springs and in other areas are heated by geothermal power.
Sorry RVers, no
hook-ups or overnight parking is available. However, there are future plans
for overnight accommodations.
Gold Fork Hot Springs Facilities
Gold Fork feature 6
pools, with temperatures from hot to cool, with hydromassage.
One of the pools features a soft, white sand bottom with sand from
Emmett, Idaho. Changing rooms, towel and swimsuit rentals,
restrooms, handicap parking and restrooms are also available. No
overnight accommodations are available.
Children (11 and under): $6
Swimsuit and towel rentals available along with some other items
(hats, shirts, sunscreen etc.)
Please note: no credit/debit cards
Video: Gold Fork Hot Springs Photo Tour
Photo tour of Gold Fork Hot Springs featuring the Yurt, pools and parking area.
Directions to Gold Fork
Getting to Gold Fork is easy. From either Donnelly (north) or
Cascade (south) head toward mile marker 128 on Highway 55, you are
looking for Plant Road and a sign for Gold Fork. Head east on Plant
road and follow the blue Gold Fork signs for 6.6 miles. The first
2.6 miles are paved, the rest is on a graded dirt road. The entire
length of the road is maintained and plowed the entire year. See map
Gold Fork Hot Springs Located in Central Idaho, near the quaint mountain town of Donnelly.
1026 Goldfork RoadDonnelly,
15 minutes from Cascade, ID
90 minutes from Boise, ID
I have been way overdue for a visit to one of my favorite commercial
hot springs, and Gold Fork did not fail to deliver. Highway 55 was
in pretty good shape, as was the road to Gold Fork on the way out.
However, on the return drive the roads were an ice rink. There was a
terrible wreck on 55 shortly before reaching Cascade that involved a
pickup and Brundage Mountain transit bus.
While enjoying Gold Fork, I actually
witnessed people drinking massive amounts of water right out of the
hot springs! I know Gold Fork has some of the best quality water
around, but really?
The water always feels a little
different here. Heavier, and softer. It might have something to do
with the geothermal water that feeds the pools, which has an
Alkaline Ph of +9, the highest in the state. Lithium is the most
prominent mineral in the water followed by potassium, calcium,
sodium, fluoride, chloride, arsenic and boron. Don't expect a
lithium trip. A ridiculous amount of water would have to be ingested
in order to have any affect. Apologies to the dude that 'swore' the
'lith' in the pool is what keeps bringing him back.
Gold Fork was thriving during my stay.
The soak was sublime, and surrounding area and changing rooms clean.
I was surprised to see people drinking alcohol in the pool. For some
reason, I had thought this was not allowed here. The presence of a
super drunk annoying guy that continuously made his way around the
pool pestering anyone that didn't look or move away was testament to
this. His choice of discussion topics were offensive to say the
least, and hearing about how he is a regular visitor didn't help the
matter. However, the majority of the other patrons were very
respectful of the hot springs.
I was also surprised to see children
running around, screaming, jumping into the pools and climbing up
large rocks to jump in the upper pool. Unfortunately, the person
staffing Gold Fork was very busy, and didn't get to venture out of
the yurt much due to the continuous flow of patrons coming and
going. Quite a stark contrast to my last visit. Even though the soak
was stellar and I overall enjoyed the visit immensely, it really
increased my urge to visit a hard to reach, way-back, backcountry
I will from now on refer to Gold Fork as the holy grail of all
commercial hot springs. The agenda of the owners is beyond noble,
water mineral quality is incredible and soak entirely stellar. I was
lucky enough to receive a personal invite to the hot springs, and
meet with one of the owners and a volunteer.
Fork Hot Springs has a colorful history. And, in hot springing
circles has been a well-known soak since time began. Back in the 80s,
Boise Cascade (now known as just Boise) owned the land. This was
when Boise Cascade was dynamiting hot springs because they didn't
want to deal with the liability of people getting hurt at them. They
left Gold Fork alone though, it was too large.... too dangerous to
even blow up. So they sold it. The next 15 years it changed hands
many times until finally ending up with the current
owners/caretakers. Mother and daughter, Brenda and Kelly are now
taking great care of an incredible hot springs, and have no plans to
sell it. They just want to keep it as natural as possible.
a volunteer at Gold Fork on Friday and Saturday, has been visiting
the hot springs since 1963. She helped clue me in on some of Gold
Fork's history, and showed me a Gold Fork photograph of hers from
that time. Paula and Brenda were both excellent. I unfortunately,
was not able to meet with Kelly, but have talked with her via e-mail
a few times. It's so great to see a hot springs in such good hands.
According to Brenda, "we only want people here who respect the
water". What more else could anyone want? Gold Fork is clean, well
cared for, has incredibly soft water and is in a natural setting.
RVers, partiers, unruly children and adults - head on down the road. If you respect the water, then Gold Fork is a must soak.
No Soap, Shampoo or BIO-Soap/Shampoo
Allowed in Hot Springs! Avoid Being Fined!
Public hot springs are not bathing facilities
and do not have 'plumbing' like that of commercial, improved hot springs. Soap and shampoo (including biodegradable soap and shampoo) do not completely breakdown
naturally. This pollutes our water systems (ingested by fish, animals, humans)
at or near the source. This is also illegal in most wilderness and public lands areas.