Boiling River Hot Spring is located on the border between Wyoming and Montana on the 45 parallel in Yellowstone National Park. It is a great place to stop for a dip while touring Yellowstone. The Boiling River hydrothermally heated water mixes with the cold water of Gardner River to create a very invigorating soaking experience.
The hike in is an easy one… so easy I hesitate to even use the word hike.
It is 1.5 miles roundtrip, with an elevation gain of only 50 feet, meandering along the picturesque banks of the Gardner River.
After about a half mile, the trail circles a lazy, steaming stream emerging from an outcropping of the riverbank. The water here has extreme temperatures of 113 – 140 degrees fahrenheit, and is not the place for a dip!
Follow the trail to the end where the stream mixes with the much cooler Gardner River in various rock-wall supported soaking pools.
Boiling River Hot Spring is not your typical relaxing hot spring… part of your body feels like it is burning while other parts are freezing. The trick is to scooch around till you find a good blend of hot and cold, then waft your hands to disperse the temperature evenly.
The crowds can be quite extreme during the peak summer months. I visited in late January of 2015 with my hubby Thom, pictured above. It did not feel overcrowded even though 20-ish other soakers were present… including a reggae band in a small RV… but that is another story.
Driving to the trailhead: From the Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone’s north entrance (pictured below) near the city of Gardiner, Montana, drive 3 miles south on Route 89. Just after crossing the Gardner River (but before the ‘Entering Wyoming’ sign), turn left into the pullout for Boiling River.
Hot Spring Details: Boiling River is open daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. No bikes or pets are allowed on the trail. Soap (including biodegradable), food, and beverages are NOT allowed in the hot springs. No nudity. Boiling River is often closed to the public during the spring when the Gardner River flows at dangerous levels. Check the Yellowstone National Park website for more details.
In the 3 miles we drove from the park entrance to the Boiling River pullout, we saw various groups of wildlife… including these slow and beautiful bison whose ancestors have lived continuously in Yellowstone since prehistoric times.
Don’t miss Devil’s Thumb, just beyond Boiling River Hot Springs on Route 89.