Deer, Elk and Fox
Past Skinnydipper Hot Springs
You never know what you might find when visiting Skinnydipper Hot Springs,
northeast of Boise. Good, bad... ugly?
Getting up before dawn is never
easy. However, when you are after Skinnydipper it is a must, IMHO. There's
nothing quite like watching the sun rise through a dimly lit forest while
soaking in a natural hot springs.
I really like that my cell phone
doesn't work out here. I like that questions about wi-fi in nearby towns draw
nothing but a brow raise. Getting away from it all really makes it easier to
have a relationship with nature... and reconnect with yourself.
I don't like hiking through a
beautiful forest along a trail littered with beer cans and cigs, just to arrive
at a pristine hot springs to find glass beer bottles and more of the same. Glass
just sucks all the way around. People make mistakes, people get drunk, glass
gets broken and goes into the pools... we all lose. Some of the news folk that
read this blog need to remember this lesson, that's right, I've seen your
Facebook pics. No worries, just remember for next time.
Cleanup wasn't that bad, only one
(very full) bag's worth. The funny thing is the Jackholes only trashed the lower
party pool, which clocked in at a meek 89 degrees. There was absolutely no
evidence of Jackholes at the upper pool, which had recently fashioned valves
attached to hot and cold pipes for attaining optimal soaking conditions. It
looks like those idiots soaked in cool waters, heh. High Five, Karma.
I ran into a friendly soaker post
'qualifying' the upper pool for a couple hours, who volunteered to hike out with
the trash bag after expressing gratitude for picking it all up. There's a first
time for everything, I was quite impressed.
Needless to say, just like in real
life, every segment of the population has some bad apples. Same goes at
Skinnydipper. Mostly good, some not so good.
Important to note:
- Lock up your vehicle and hide any left behind gear, Jackholes have been known for theft and vandalism here. Just this last visit, there was freshly broken windshield glass visible in the pullout, which looked like originated from 2-4 vehicles.
- Don't bring glass, and please pick up all trash you come across. As a rule of thumb, keep two extra sacks in your backpack.
- Be wary that the hike up to the hot springs is relatively steep with jagged switchbacks. I wouldn't advise this hike for small children unless you are equipped. Much unlike the two Mothers I witnessed, each with a 3 y/o with sandals and flip flops on. I would also advise that many people soak in the buff here (hence all of the Bare warning signs), if you are not ok with your kids baring witness, nearby
Bonneville Campgrounds each have hot springs that are easier to access and are much more suitable for children.
- Remember too, most hot springers are of the friendly lot, give them respect unless you are given a clear reason not to.
Multiple reports of Jackhole sightings have surfaced in regard to Skinnydipper AKA Mile Marker 4 Hot Springs near Banks, Idaho. Reports included alleged sightings of public urination/defecation in the parking area and next to the pools.
Side note: Skinny was officially closed at night for 2 years ending in 2009. However, Jackholes either defaced or removed signs and the closure was never really enforced. Very sad because the surrounding area has been abused so much that it was classified as ‘critically endangered’ years ago. This subsequently resulted in management/jurisdiction of MM4 changing hands from the Forest Service to the BLM.
Cig butts, cig packs, beer cans, more beer cans, food packaging, underwear, a dress, a shirt with human feces on it ... and on. This was some of the awesomeness I found at Skinnydipper hot springs this morning. A bad feeling crept into my stomach as I was hiking up the trail towards the soaking pools once I realized that I was entering
There was one car in Skinny's pullout about an hour before dawn. Partiers from Emmett, Idaho that seemingly spent the night. About half-way up I passed two drunken 20 something jerks on their way down. After the last one walked by he said "them pools is fu**ing packed!". Whatever, I thought.
Two more jackholes; male and female, were in the lowest soaking pool nestled amongst their jackhole trash heap. I continued up to the two upper pools. Cesspools of human waste. Unbelievable!! While I was discovering the mess and crunching beer cans the jackholes below abandoned their home away from home. They must have sensed I was coming for them.
I finished stuffing the only garbage bag I brought up with trash quickly before taking off down the trail after the jackhole horde. I was furious!! My soaking partner was close behind. As I was cruising down the trail the faint light of the rising sun gave me a glimpse of the pullout. Jackholes were trying to bust into my truck! Frak! I was still maybe 10 minutes from being all the way down.
Once my compadre witnessed the scene below a loud bellow was released that startled myself and the jackholes. They looked up, saw me - and scattered! Invigorated, I increased my pace and missed a switchback and fell a few feet before landing on my chest. I didn't skip a beat, the jackholes messing with my ride and trash rage gave me the adrenalin I needed. I wasn't even down a second before popping right back up and renewing my downhill charge.
My feet hit the pavement as the jackholes sped away. To be honest, it worked out for the better. No vehicle damage, and I can't help but wonder what would have happened if I had caught them. My backup was still a few minutes away and the jackholes had me outnumbered.
Defeated, we left without soaking. The jackholes took this round. When this happens, we all lose.
This is a good time to remember that taking care of public hot springs means addressing jackholes besides just cleaning up their trash. Try to be nice, snap a pic of their license plate and email it to the Boise National Forest and BLM (and here, I'll gladly post it).
02.18.10 Usage Update
Slizzammed early in the AM! This was the 4th time I've been by MM4's
pullout just to find it packed with vehicles. Ironically, when I
drove back past at 6pm the pullout was completely vacant. My timing
must just be off.
Trashed. :( Took a long time to clean up and adjust pools. Only 2
pools are usable, and each one clocked in above 120 degrees upon
arrival... whew! Glad I didn't jump in before testing the temps.
See pics above and
video here. I'll keep it short: it was a badass trip! Low trash,
clean pools and friendly soakers. Note, the video features my good
friend's band: The Crappy Old String Band,
check it out!
Yet another stellar spring soak at Skinny. Sadly, had a lot of trash
to haul out on this one. My soaking party enjoyed the pools
privately until an ol timer showed up, kinda odd fellow. Then, a
friendly lady and her dog showed up, offended the old timer, which
in-turn prompted her to leave. Hmmm. You never know who you're gonna
meet at the hot springs.
We tried to sneak a soak at Skinny in the am, but the 6 cars in the
pullout drove us on to nearby hot springs. However, on the way back,
a huge rainstorm hit. Our hopes that the storm had chased off all of
Mile Marker 4's soakers were confirmed when we rounded the bend on
the Banks-Lowman highway. Soaking in Skinnydipper during any kind of
storm is a personal favorite. The icing on the cake was almost
Skinny was awesome... arriving early is the only way to go. However,
being the first on any Sunday has one major downfall... trash from
Saturday night. I've never seen so much trash at a hot springs
before, even Skinnydipper - the most abused in the entire state.
There were glow sticks, cigs, candles, beer, wine, liquor, clothing,
towels and more. I about died coming back down with all of that
crap, and the smell inside my truck on the way back to Boise was
choice to say the least.
Aside from the trash,
the soak was stellar. It's a shame that the small group of
volunteers work so hard just so the masses can keep trashing Skinny.
Hat's off to the Keepers, you know who you are. And, a big thumbs
down to those of you who don't pick up others' trash.
Too long has it been since my last visit. Our early arrival yielded
to a slippery climb up the icy trail to the hot springs pools. We
made excellent use out of our trekking poles. All 3 pools were in
excellent conditions. In fact, I would have to say they are as clean
as I've ever witnessed. The new plumbing in place is definitely
being utilized properly. We could have used brighter flashlights as
we arrived a couple hours prior to sunrise.
I chatted with a solo-soaker shortly
before we began departure preparations. The friendly guy headed down
to the lower 'party' pool where he proceeded to line up his
brewskies on a rock. This guy was a rockstar, drinking beer at dawn.
I hope he's careful on the way down. It was a bit brisk getting out;
our coats were adorned with ice crystals on any part of the fabric
susceptible to moisture.
After filling two bags with trash I
was out of space; this being the most disappointing facet of the
trip. It seemed like most of the trash came from one or two
individuals the previous night. I found a broken flashlight (the
batteries were further down the hill), clothing, full can of chili,
full can of sparks and a bunch of other garbage carelessly scattered
all over the place between the parking pullout and pools.
All it takes is one.
Not much new to report besides stellar soaking in the sun and snow.
The path up the hill to the hot springs was a bit muddy in places;
even though it may be wet please stay on the main path as to
minimize erosion. The hot and cold water plumbing has been tweaked
some since my last soak, and the top pool is now in great shape -
all 3 pools in fact are in prime soaking condition. Please make sure
to pick up all of your trash when visiting this hot springs; keeping
this place clean means it will be around for future hot springers.
Great soaking at Skinny this morning; the top pool is still out of
commission but the lower, other 2 are in good shape despite some
broken plumbing. Almost no trash save for a ton of cig butts the
last couple visits, at least it's improving! My trash loads are
getting smaller and smaller every time I visit. There's talk of
organizing a volunteer day coming up; the path needs some work as
do the pools. I'll post more to the
blog as info. becomes available.
There was a single guy soaking in the
party pool upon our early arrival. After about an hour or so a
couple, their friend and 2 dogs came up. Everyone seemed pretty
friendly. Luckily we like dogs, because theirs ran up and jumped
right into the pool and ran wild. This is somewhat of a sore spot
with me, especially being a dog owner myself. I just don't
understand why people can't leash their dogs... it's really as
simple as that. If your dog fights, leave him/her in the vehicle or
at home, if they can't stay close and obey commands do the same. The
rare times I take my dogs to hot springs they are on leash, and I
don't take them to popular hot springs.
I wasn't sure what to expect after receiving multiple reports this
summer describing vandalism, pool and pipe destruction and some
other items too gross to mention. We (myself and hot springing
partner Andrew Nelson of National Geographic Traveler) arrived
mid-day to a shockingly near-empty parking area. Keeper Matt was
on-hand, and told me that he's been carting trash, broken pipe and
more out the last 3 days. He also mentioned that just the other
night 3 vehicles got their windows busted out. Despite all of the
carnage the place looked great, and you can thank the Keepers for
Matt, Harley and Ken are the main
Keepers or 'Friends of Skinnydipper' that I know about. I am a
Keeper as well, but don't frequent Skinny nearly as often as the
others. It should be known that we are in search of additional
Keepers - Skinnydipper needs some help and stewardship. If you are
interested, talk to one of the Keepers or myself. Your best bet to
catch a Keeper is to visit mid-morning on the weekend or
The soft, hot water felt oh soooo
great! Matt had been hard at work jury-rigging the damaged plumbing
a week or so ago and had just gotten things up and running shortly
before we arrived. He mentioned that the pipes are just barley
holding together, and that any messing with them wouldn't be good.
There's really no need to mess with the pipes anyway - each pool has
a hot and cold water inflow pipe that is adjustable. There is no
reason to climb up to the top and make adjustments there.
I was glad to see that Andrew really
enjoyed the whole hot springs experience. The biggest downer I felt
was the large heart graffiti above the second pool from the bottom.
Our party of 4 was the first to arrive at the hot springs at 6:30am
on this Sunday morning. The most noted improvement this trip proved
to be the reworked trail up to the hot springs, it looks like the
keepers have been hard at work.... great job to all involved! After
about 30min of enjoying the complex ourselves a steady stream of
visitors began to arrive. It's tough to beat watching the sun rise
while soaking in Skinnydipper bright and early in the morning.
Excellent! Middle and lowest pool were in great shape, the upper
pool's pipes are now connected and the pool itself is looking much
better despite still being dry. We ran into Harley again and he said
the upper pool will be operational soon! Low trash this time too,
quite a dramatic difference when compared to our visit just last
We arrived by 7:30am just as the sun was coming up. The heavy cloud
cover in the sky allowed for a dim illumination of the surrounding
hot springs complex; which was churning out plume-like steam curls
into the damp morning air.
The lower, 'party' pool was luke warm
and needed a bit of cleaning. The middle pool boasted perfect
soaking temperatures and was also in need of a clean, even more than
the lower pool. The uppermost pool had been drained and it's pipes
laid disconnected on a bench above the pool.
There were beer cans and other trash
floating in both of the pools and more garbage strewn about
everywhere else. We were lucky enough to run into Hot Springs Harley
(see 04.11.03 briefing below) on our way out. We chatted with him
and found out that he was just here yesterday and picked up all of
the trash and connected the pipes to the upper pool. It seems
despite nighttime closure the jerk-offs are still partying and
trashing Skinnydipper on Friday & Saturday nights. One of these
times they'll get caught by the Keepers, BLM or Sheriff.
Harley sure is a great guy; he and
the Keepers take great care of the hot springs. He was on his way up
to clean out the pools and pick up after others. Neither of us were
stoked to find a campfire right next to the 'party' pool either.
Hot Springs Harley and Keeper
Ken designed and built the pools at Skinny in 1995, back when it was
just some hot water cascading down a jagged canyon. Needless to say,
they did an excellent job.
It really has been too long since my last visit to good ol
Skinnydipper. We arrived just after 7am and had all 3 pools to
ourselves until about 8:30 when a lone guy arrived with camera in
hand. On our way back to the pullout we passed another gentleman on
his way up. The soaking was great, and even better was the
surprisingly low amount of trash. Granted there was still enough to
fill a couple small plastic bags, but still the lowest amount of
trash I've yet to see here. Improvements have been made to the trail
as well, along with saplings being planted in key areas to fight
erosion. Do your part to as a keeper of Skinny and pick up trash,
don't take switchbacks, pack out what your brought in and don't
throw coins in the pools. This is one of the rare hot springs and is
in danger of becoming the next Scenic
Hot Springs, if we work together to preserve this sweet spot I
think Skinny can be saved.
A great day for a great soak. Skinny was sweet as usual. There was a
hearty amount of trash abound though. Unfortunately, this was one of
the rare times in which I didn't bring extra plastic bags for
garbage. Sadly, there was trash floating in the Party Pool. We
carted out what we could fit but it wasn't nearly enough. On the
plus side though, we did run into Harley on our way down. He's one
of the main Keepers of this beautiful set of hot pools. If you are
into hot springing, chances are you will eventually hear his name...
especially if you visit Skinny or any of the hot springs near it.
Just a week ago at
HS Campground a fellow was talking about Harley. Nice guy, and
to note... we are now Keepers too (we have the officail card)! You
can be one too! Just take good care of Skinny when you visit.
Please, no glass & pack out what you pack in. I can't say it enough,
but these hot springs are sacred grounds.
Yet another stellar trip to Skinnydipper. Man, I love this place.
The sunny morning was the perfect setting for some prime time
soaking and a nice cup of java. Thumbs up (as usual) for
Skinnydipper. Hot water gushes out of the source into a chain of
soaking pools with different temperatures (also adjustable).
Another great soak. The 'party' pool was perfect on the cold rainy
day. Too much trash was abound though. And, according to one of the
Keepers, Skinnydipper gets royally trashed almost every Friday and
Saturday night. The evidence definitely supported his claim. I say
we go get those bastards and throw them a blanket party. I know, I
know... that won't solve anything. It's too bad you can't force
knowledge upon someone. We stayed a couple hours and then left as
the rain picked up (a lot). Our goal was to avoid any mud and rock
slides that this area is notorious for. We returned to our vehicle
to find out that Garden Valley Road was closed (on both sides of us)
due to mud and rock slides. Needless to say it was a slow drive out,
with many stops to remove rocks from the road. I'd like to thank the
jerk in a pickup/camper that almost ran me over while I was moving
rocks from the road. I passed him later (with his family) on the
side of the road looking upset because he hit a rock... go figure.
It's great to see swift justice in action. Too bad he had to drag
the family along his path of road rage. I am happy they are not hurt
despite how sick I get of idiots.
What a shocker! NO vehicles in the pullout at 8am. However, there
were 12 vehicles in the pullout during the late-afternoon.
I was very surprised to find 2 vehicles in the pullout around 6am.
At 11am, there were no vehicles; more than likely because of the
At approx. 10am there was 8 vehicles in the pullout and around 5pm
there was 12. This place is as popular as ever.
06.25.05 (very very late 1am 06.26.05)
8!! cars in the pullout - I'm guessing that nighttime closure is
either no longer in effect or the nighttime closure sign keeps
Only two cars in the pullout
9 cars in the pullout on this sunny Sunday around 1pm - Yikes!
At around 2pm I drove past 10 vehicles in the pullout.
Despite nighttime closure, Skinny's pullout was jam-packed slightly
before dusk... even a full-size semi-truck was in the pullout!
There were 6 vehicles in the pullout as we drove past early in the
Wow! 6 cars in the pullout @ 1am!
3 or 4 vehicles were present at Skinny's pullout at about 8am.
It was 6:45am and there were 4 vehicles already in Skinny's pullout!
It did look as if a couple of them might have spent the night.
Hopefully it isn't the same garbage-heads that regularly trash
Skinny on Friday & Saturday nights.
En route to
Pine Flats HS we witnessed 4 vehicles and a police blazer with
lights-o-flashing in Skinny's pullout. It looked like one of the
cars had called the police because all 4 of their tires were flat.
Man, this place is getting way too overcrowded. That would explain
why I haven't been since early June. I'm beginning to wonder just
how long it will be before this cool soak faces nighttime or
08.26.02 - 08.27.02
On the evening of the 26th around 10:30pm there was at least 6
vehicles parked in Skinny's pullout. Around 1:30am there were no
vehicles parked at the pullout.
I witnessed one huge RV and a handful of cars and trucks parked in
Skinnydipper's pullout when driving by on our way back from
Bear Valley HS.
There was only 1 car in Skinny's pullout around 7:30 AM.
Entire pullout packed! No available parking spaces!