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Home: Commercial: ID HS: Central Idaho: Gold Fork Hot Springs
  Commercial Hot Springs in Idaho

Gold Fork Hot Springs in Central Idaho

Hours/Season: Open Sunday - Friday: 12pm - 9pm, Saturday: 12pm - 11pm (closed on Tuesdays)

Region: Donnelly, Idaho

Gold Fork Hot Springs Picture CollageGold Fork Main Pool

Gold Fork Hot Springs Pool

Lower Pool at Gold Fork Hot Springs

Gold Fork Changing Room

Soaking at Gold Fork Hot Springs

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.

There 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.

The 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.

Rates

Admission
Adults: $8
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 below...

 

Click for Cascade, Idaho Forecast

Click for Cascade, Idaho Forecast

Additional Information

Gold Fork Hot Springs
Located in Central Idaho, near the quaint mountain town of Donnelly.
1026 Goldfork Road Donnelly, ID
Phone: 208-890-8730

15 minutes from Cascade, ID
90 minutes from Boise, ID

(866) GLD-FORK, 208.890.8730

pH: 9+

Gold Fork Hot Springs Pictures (click to enlarge)

 

Gold Fork Hot Springs Driving Directions Map


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Trip Reports
Dates Visited: Trash Levels: Bug Levels:
01.22.10 none none
08.11.07 none none

Water Clarity:
Crystal-Clear

Visibility:
low

Odor(s):
none

 

01.22.10
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 hot springs.
Rating
B+

08.11.07
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.

Gold 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.

Paula, 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.

Rating A+

Average Rating: A-

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PUBLIC BATHING NOTICE

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.

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