Public hot springs in Idaho come in many different shapes and sizes and range from easy access to multiple days of backpacking to access. The hot springs in this area are located on public lands; National Forest, BLM or Wilderness, and typically do not have any fees associated with access except for a few with day use fees.
Idaho has the most usable hot springs in the Nation, with about 130 soakable out of 340. However, Nevada has the most hot springs overall, but the majority of them are not soakable. Geothermal water is hot because it is heated from within the Earth's crust, forcing it up to the surface where pools are developed or form naturally near the outflow. Ninety percent of Idaho's 340 hot springs are the result of leftover energy heating water near fault lines whereas the remaining hot springs are traditionally heated by volcanic activity.
Generally speaking; it's a good idea to wear a swimsuit at the easy-access hot springs during the day and early evening. Hard to find, get to or backcountry soaks are almost always clothing optional save for ones located along popular rivers. Most of the hot springs in Idaho that are located on public land are actually clothing optional. A few even have signs warning visitors of nudity. Some people soak nude for the right reasons at the wrong places and times and vice versa.
As a rule of thumb, it is not recommended to soak au natural at any easy-access hot springs unless oncoming people can be seen with enough time to don a suit; you never know who you might run into. Backcountry hot springs are a different story, however, there's nothing like soaking naturally in a natural setting with no one around for miles.
Please keep in mind that a swimsuit washed with detergent carries that detergent into the hot springs every time you soak. Dedicate a suit specifically for hot springing and don't wash it, rinse it out instead.
Don't forget to be courteous, friendly and short-winded and remember that most folks seek out backcountry hot springs to "get away from it all". Don't jibber-jabber your new friend's ear off just because they said "hi" back (unless chatter is the general consensus and you are up for it). Instead, have an enthusiastic, but low key personal conversation. It's actually possible to swap stories and enjoy a quiet soak.
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