Typically, during winter, locals try to
keep the road to the hot springs plowed. However, keep in mind the
geographic location of this hot springs; 10 inches of snow can drop
in mere hours. Again, be very careful. It should also be noted that
harsh summer storms can oftentimes turn the road into a muck pot -
there have been a few times where the road has actually washed away
- leaving campers and hot springers stranded until rescue.
Plenty of nearby National Forest primitive sites to choose from
along the forest road, and many primitive and official campgrounds
along highway 75. New for 05/06 is a small camping site next to the
parking area trailhead. Don't camp here unless you are ready for
August is a great time to visit the White Cloud Mountains, located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA), northeast of Stanley, Idaho.
Hoodoo Hot Springs is also located in the White Clouds, and is near multiple backcountry trailheads to alpine lakes that are anywhere from a 2 mile jaunt to a 20 mile expedition to reach.
While Hoodoo Lake is a mere 2 miles/2K ft hike, the trail is … rustic to say the least. Twists, snags, deadfall, huge boulders, jagged cliffs, scenic waterfalls and incredible views of the White Clouds; this hike has it all.
Bring lots of water, there’s any icy cool lake waiting at the top and a stellar soak at the bottom near the haunted Hoodoo Mines. J/K. Or, am I?
The access road, appropriately numbered FSR 666 is a tire killer. I made it in and out ok, but 3 of 6 other vehicles that drove into the area took on flat tires.
And, the bugs! Were insane! I’ve been out here a few times a few different years and this one took the gold. Luckily, I had a mesh shelter that I finally got to put to the test … it was so awesome to be able to take a bug break, especially when eating. At least it was only during the day, shortly after nightfall they thinned out quick. High altitude has that effect.
The hike to the lake was a surprise challenge. The reward at the top made it more than worth the brutal scramble during 90 degree heat. And, the hot spring at the bottom felt good on the muscles and took the chill out of the evening mountain air.
I recently had the pleasure of revisiting the White Cloud Mountains, located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) in central Idaho. A visit to this area isn't complete without checking out Hoodoo Lake, Crater Lake, Hoodoo Mines and of course - Slate Creek Hot Springs (AKA, you guessed it, Hoodoo Hot Springs).
This section of my backcountry adventure began when I turned onto FSR 666 off the main highway a few miles past Stanley, Idaho. Which is a good place to score a delicious Huclkeberry Milkshake, another must if you are traveling through Stanley. Normally, Slate Creek Road is a little rough, but this time through it was moderately brutal. Luckily, the scenery is spectacular, and I had a set of fresh tires w/spare. About halfway to the hot springs two kids shot out of the woods and ran along side of my truck for about a mile, grinning wildly. Crazy kids, reminded me of myself back in the day.
When I finally reached the hot springs I was disappointed to find someone's rig parked in my favorite camping spot. This 'rig' was a little freaky; it looked like half monster truck half RV, and like something from Maximum Overdrive. There wasn't a sole person around either. I really had not intended to soak-it-up until the evening, but a storm was darkening the sky and dropping the temperature. Naturally, I took advantage.
Trash was actually moderate to low, for Slate Creek. Only filled up one small bag. My campsite was an entirelly different story - I actually spent about 3 hours hauling someone's smashed up table out of a creek located in a small revene. Jerks must have threw/kicked it down there - and blocked up the creek, I was pissed! On top of that, there was all kinds of other crap everywhere. This trend unfortunately continued every night of this particular trip. All signs pointed to hunters and anglers very clearly. I know there are some good ones out there that leave a light footprint, but seriously! All of the Forest Service and BLM workers deserve a pay raise for dealing with not only the trash, but the mentality.
Slate Creek Hot Springs was a stellar soak, for sure. I wasn't too happy to find the pool filled up upon arrival. This old wooden-box soaking pool structure is weakening, and keeping it water-logged simply accelerates matters. Nonetheless, I was able to enjoy a nice soak (w/o rain) for a couple hours before lightning chased me off. Never did see the monster RV folks, but on my way out I passed multiple fire trucks and two helicopters carrying fire retardant.
Video clips are coming soon. Ohh, yes - Sunbeam Hot Springs was still underwater, but there were plenty of people trying! I also tried to reach Bear Valley Hot Springs, but was unsuccessful. :(
Great trip, stellar soak. Increase in trash and bugs; moderate
amount of visitors. I encountered an interesting couple on the
evening of the 4th. After the couple had been soaking for around 5
hours I went to get my soak-on. The two textiles were friendly
enough. However, the dude was heavily wasted and kept asking me
question after question while being totally rude to his wife. She
eventually convinced him to leave, but not after I endured a full
hour of not so nice banter. I sunk down into the hot springs after
they left, looked up and let out a big sigh. The blanket of stars
above my head more than made up for it.
08.18.06 - 08.20.06
After being turned-away from two attempted pack trips to
Hot Springs and the Upper Loon Hot Springs due to wildfires, our
troupe ended up at one of the only nearby areas not hampered by
wildfire... Slate Creek. The soaking and camping were excellent, and
the hot springs featured a nifty valve addition to the plumbing,
which allowed for precise control of the temperature of the incoming
Our stay near the hot springs turned out great despite our
preference to backpacking. I was really pulling for Bear Valley and
Upper Loon. We encountered moderate amounts of traffic at Slate
Creek, in fact, all were friendly soakers. My only beef was with two
hybrid bikers on Slate Creek road. These two idiots just sat on
their bikes in the middle of the road upon approach. I originally
thought they needed help but that wasn't the case. Just as I stopped
they moved out of the road, I asked if they needed any help and they
just stared at me. Real smart, and to top it off they were just
above a ridge in the road - southbound travelers won't have much of
a chance to stop once the ridge is crested.
05.19.06 & 05.20.06
Ahhh... finally. Multiple soaks were had at a unique hot springs
nestled in a wooded valley situated in the White Cloud Mountains in
the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA). This is the same SNRA
that politician Mike Simpson wants to secede chunks off to Stanley
for trophy home development. Usually, visiting Slate Creek this time
of year yields to snow, at least during cold spring nights. However,
a few day warm front provided a nice window of opportunity for
accessing this popular soaking destination.
Slate Creek Hot Springs
is located at the site of the old Hoodoo Mines, north of Stanley and
near Sunbeam. It's actually kinda spooky being able to see abandoned
out-buildings and mine shafts from the soaking pool. Further
exploration revealed additional mine shafts and metal shacks. Hot
seeps are present throughout the area, but the wooden soaking box is
primarily fed from a source inside the nearest boarded up mine
shaft. At one point while soaking, I watched steam pour out of the
center of an old, long-dead stump 50 yards away.
The old soaking box
still holds water, but takes time to fill up and adjust the
temperature. I must be
getting a knack for this kind of stuff, because it only took about
30 minutes to achieve optimal soaking conditions, including fill
make sure to pull the plug and drain the pool upon departure, and
don't forget to move the two hot water plastic pipes back out of the
pool as to preserve the wood. And, as always, pick up your trash and
any other trash you might find. I was ecstatic to not find any trash
at the hot springs and parking / trailhead areas. I did end up
picking up trash at a couple of the nearby primitive campsites
This is a
popular hot springs, consider yourself lucky if you are able to
enjoy it yourself. Please treat this area with care and respect, and
if you value or use this land - oppose any politicians that would
give precious public land away in favor of trophy home development.
My friend and I cruised into Slate Creek hoping for a much needed
soak after a backpacking trip. What we found was hard to believe.
Every primitive campsite between highway 75 and the hot springs was
full except for a couple located just down the road from the
highway. We arrived at the parking area just in time to see some
idiots moving the large rocks and boulders between the parking area
and the short trail to the hot springs. Then, after two street bikes
(!!!!) floored it off-road down the trail toward the spring, the
pickup followed - backwards! I guess since there was no nearby
camping these nutty partiers decided to camp and park their vehicles
right next to the hot springs in hopes of having it to
07.13.05 Guest Briefing
Visited Slate Creek Hot Springs yesterday and am here to report that
it was clean with plentiful water available...being a remote
location meant we had the place to ourselves...it is about a 1/4 of
a mile hike from the car park to the spring which is a bit
challenging but, not terribly taxing...I recommend this
spring...please, leave it as you find it.