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Home: Idaho Hot Springs: Skinnydipper Hot Springs
  Public Hot Springs

Skinnydipper Hot Springs in Idaho [CLOSED]

Season: All (June 21, 2016 Official Closure for 5 Years) Type: H (hike)
Boise National Forest Overall Rating: A+
3,500 ft Water Temperature: Varies
Banks/Garden Valley Area Usage Level: High
Located on Critically Endangered BLM Land, Surrounded by Boise National Forest pH: 7

Skinnydipper Hot Springs Pictures

Think Green

From Slightly Above

View from the Pool

True That - Keepers Needed

The Party Pool

MM4 Hot Springs in Idaho

MM4 Hot Springs in Idaho

MM4 Hot Springs in Idaho

MM4 Hot Springs in Idaho

10.21.07: New signage

10.21.07: Waterfall above the 'party pool'

10.21.07: Plenty of trash to pick up... ugh

10.21.07: More signs than ever

10.21.07: *sigh* I wish

03.16.06: Looking down on the two lowest pools

03.16.06: Uppermost pool - #3 back in action

03.16.06: New spout on the main feed into the party pool

03.16.06: Always a beautiful hike in

09.25.05: Low-Rolling Valley Clouds

09.21.05: Sunrise

09.19.05: Andrew surveys the 'party' pool

02.27.05: Middle pool

02.27.05: Early morning soaking

09.26.04: Middle pool

09.18.04: Sign of the times

09.18.04: Spiffy shower feeding the 'party' pool

04.08.04: The 'Party Pool' is in great shape

04.08.04: Overhead view of the middle pool

04.08.04: Looking down

04.11.03: Middle pool

06.03.02: The esteemed 'Party Pool' - the lowest and largest pool

06.03.02: The highest and smallest of the 3 pools

04.14.02: Wow! The 'Party Pool' is hard to beat

Up | Down | Top | Bottom

[ View 09.30.11 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]
[ View 03.02.09 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]
[ View 10.06.08 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]
[ View 10.21.07 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]
[ View 01.06.07 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]
[ View 01.01.07 Skinnydipper Hot Springs Video Clip ]

Skinnydipper Hot Springs General Description

Skinnydipper Hot Springs is Currently Experiencing a 5 Year Closure from June 21, 2016 to June 21, 2021
The 5 year closure involves proposed restoration efforts by the BLM, which include dismantling the improved pools and removal of the access trail. Since 2012, Skinnydipper Hot Springs has been closed at night. This page will be updated as more becomes known.

Skinnydipper is about a 45 minute to 1 hour drive from Boise, followed by a 0.5 mile hike up steep switchbacks to the actual hot springs. Visiting should be avoided during inclement weather. Roads and the trail can become treacherous quickly.

Skinnydipper is Idaho's most recent public natural hot springs discovery. In 1994-95, Hot Springs Harley and Keeper Ken found and cultivated the hot springs into what it is today. The 0.5 mile hike up from the Banks-Lowman Highway pullout is steep and treacherous at times. A loose-knit group of volunteers known as "Keepers" maintain the trail, pools and plumbing. Weekend and summer partying can get out of hand. Fights, vandalism and vehicle break-ins have been known to occur during peak usage. Harley and Ken can usually be found at Skinnydipper on any given Sunday, busily picking up trash and maintaining the trial and pools.

The Lowdown on Skinny
It’s popular, so go on the weekdays or in the morning or both if you can. Luckily, there’s usually 2 or 3 pools in good working order. Thus, decent space to accommodate moderate sized groups of people. Lock-up your vehicle and hide your valuables, as theft has been on the rise in the parking area.

Pool Description
Skinnydipper features a chain of 3 to 4 rock and mortar reinforced, sand and gravel bottomed pools with adjustable temperatures overlooking a breathtaking valley in the Boise National Forest.

Seasonal Information
Be wary of the mud and rock slides that are a common occurrence along the Banks-Lowman Highway, especially during Spring and Fall. The trail up to the pools can get slippery and FAST! The same goes for the winter season, except the trail is layered with thick sheets of ice and snow. Rain gear is always nice to have for 'just in case' reasons. Otherwise, Skinny is accessible virtually all year around!

There are plenty of area Boise National Forest developed and undeveloped (primitive) campsites within 10 to 20 minutes from the pullout.


  • From Boise, take Highway 55 north 35 miles to Banks, Idaho (45 minutes)
  • Head east from Banks on the Banks-Lowman Highway to the mile marker 4 sign and trail head parking area (15 minutes)
  • Cross the road and find the well-used and visible trail that heads north, up the side of the mountain
  • Follow the switchbacks all the way up before dropping down to the pools (.5 mile hike/steep elevation)
  • Be careful! This hike can be treacherous during inclement weather conditions

None. Skinnydipper is a public hot springs located on BLM land.

Special Considerations
Skinnydipper is a recent find, and has only been around since the mid to late 90s – much unlike the rest of Idaho’s natural hot springs. It is also one of Idaho’s most abused hot springs and survives primarily due to the efforts of volunteer groups like ‘The Keepers’, ‘Boise River Volunteers’ and a few locals. Please remember to not bring any glass (not fun to step on in the pool) and pick up all trash you come across.

Nearby hot springs: Kirkham, Pine Flats, Hot Springs Campground and Bonneville

Trip Reports, Accessibility and Usage Updates

Dates Visited: Trash Levels: Bug Levels:
05.2015 moderate light
09.30.11 moderate very light
03.28.10 -ULTRA TRASHED- light
03.02.09 EXTREME none
10.06.08 low! :) light
05.19.08 high none
11.12.07 low!!!! none
10.21.07 EXTREME none
01.21.07 high none
03.16.06 low-moderate none
09.25.05 low! none
09.21.05 low! none
09.19.05 low! light
02.27.05 low!! none
09.26.04 low! none
09.18.04 high none
04.08.04 low!! none
04.11.03 high none
06.03.02 moderate none
04.14.02 high none

Water Clarity:

Low to Moderate

None Noticed

Wildlife Sighted: Deer, Elk and Fox

Past Skinnydipper Hot Springs Trip Reports

View all Skinnydipper blog posts on HSG

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 Hot Springs, Pine Flats, Kirkham and 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.
Happy Trails!
Rating: A-

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 jackhole territory.

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).
Rating F

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.
Rating B

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.
Rating: A-

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 non-existent trash.

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 that.

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 contact me.

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.
Rating A+

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 week.
Rating A+

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.
Rating: A+

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.
Rating A

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).
Rating A

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.
Rating A-

Average Rating: A

Traffic Updates

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 heavy rain.

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 getting defaced.

06.24.05 (evening)
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! Sheesh!

There were 6 vehicles in the pullout as we drove past early in the morning.

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 complete closure.

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!


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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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