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Home: Idaho Hot Springs: Stanley Hot Springs
  Public Hot Springs
Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Overall Rating: A+
3,600 ft Water Temperature: 103
20+ miles East of Lowell, Idaho Usage Level: Heavy-Extreme

Picture Viewer

07.23.06: Views of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Stanley Hot Springs

07.24.06: Huckleberry Creek

07.24.06: Lush, green forest

07.25.06: Dusk in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

07.25.06: Signage

07.23.06: Dusk

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[ View 07.23.06 - 07.25.06 Stanley Hot Springs Video Clips ]

General Description
A chain of rock and log dammed pools in a lush, ancient forest at the end of a grueling 6 mile hike on a rough trail into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Dates Visited: Trash Levels: Bug Levels:
07.23.06 - 07.25.06 None High

Water Clarity:



Wildlife Sighted: Deer and Moose

Seasonal Notes
Snow covered trails and a river ford mean the best time of year to visit Stanley is after spring runoff (March or April) and before winter snowfall (October or November).
Camping Notes
Wilderness Gateway Campground, which has around 90 sites, is located at the trailhead and features full-facilities. There are a multitude of primitive sites located at and around the hot springs. Please use existing sites and do not create new sites as there are plenty. This area has been heavily damaged by humans and horses. Please treat this fragile ecosystem with care and leave as light of footprint as possible.


07.23.06 - 07.25.06
My trip to Stanley Hot Springs was full of surprises. This was my first trip into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which was the 1st Wilderness Area designated in Idaho and one of the first of the entire United States. It lies directly north of the massive Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and is separated from the Frank by only one road, the Magruder Road.

We broke camp at Wilderness Gateway Campground at 4am in an effort to beat the heat. We were unfortunate to arrive during a week-long heat wave of mid-90s to 100+ temperatures. The last part of the hike down to Rock Creek was rough. There was little water, the trail was thrashed and loaded with horse poop due to extreme outfitter activity - in many places it was like hiking up jagged stairs. And, horse traffic on the trail proved cumbersome as the heat ratcheted up.

Horses have the right-of-way here, so every time they are encountered backpackers and hikers have to get off the trail, approx. 5-6 feet below the horses and crush beautiful foliage as a result while the horses pass and kick rocks and dirt all over the party below. This makes for slow going, and if you have heavy backpacks on can really suck. We had to do it 4 times. Some of the outfitters were actually upset at having to deal with us backpackers, I think it was because our dogs spooked their horses and one of them spilled their beer. All in this particular party were drinking beer and smoking cigars while on the trail.

It was more than refreshing to finally drop down to ford Rock Creek slightly before the hot springs. The cool creek water was a nice reprieve against the hot, humid weather and biting horse flies. Upon arrival to the hot springs I spoke with a friendly, traveling couple from Maine on their way to Washington - hitting hot springs all along the way.

Once we decided on a primitive camp from the many available we setup and prepared for our first soak in Stanley. It was excellent to say the least. My thermo-watch consistently clocked in at 103 in the optimal pool. The deep and wide soaker washed the painful hike away.

In addition to the traveling couple from Maine, there was another traveling couple that spent the night, a naturalist lady who apparently was living for an extended period at the site directly above the pool, a few day hikers, another couple that spent a single night and a family that arrived while we were leaving. The naturalist lady had tons of jars of berries, roots and other edibles stored at her campsite along with other items that suggested that she was living at this site for an extended period of time.

At dusk, on the 2nd day of our 3 day stay we were greeted by a legendary hot springs soaker... the hot springs moose (see video clips). This was the pinnacle of the trip to Stanley, and watching the moose enjoy the hot springs reminded me just how truly unique this place is.

Average Rating: A+

Related: Hot Springs Guide Books, Weather Conditions


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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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