Looking for hot springs, perhaps with spa services on the side? Visit a real spa town, like Steamboat Springs, Colo., Hot Springs, Mont., or head to Hot Springs County in Wyoming, where copious amounts of mineral-rich water have led many resort towns to arise in a relatively close radius. The town of Desert Hot Springs in California’s Coachella Valley is another great destination, with plenty of soaking options ranging from retro oases to plant-filled oases.
But sometimes, nothing beats the simple pleasure of soaking in warm water in a rustic, natural environment, where amenities are scarce and bathing suits are generally optional. Travertine Hot Springs in Bridgeport, California, the site of my wonderful after-camping bath, is a prime example of a more rustic type of hot spring; Goldmyer Hot Springs, near Washington’s Cascade Mountains, limits entry to 20 people per day and requires a four-and-a-half-mile hike to access the springs. While there are few “secrets” in the age of the internet, rustic springs that require some effort to access often come with seclusion and the chance to be surrounded by nature while you bathe.
When visiting a hot spring, especially ones with limited services, be very careful not to leave a trace – overuse, trash and poor maintenance can lead to closures.
In the East
The hot springs offerings in the eastern United States are significantly fewer than in the west. But what the eastern hot springs lack in quantity, they make up for in stature. In Saratoga Springs, NY, home to Saratoga Spa State Park, you can find the Roosevelt Baths and Spa in the Gideon Putnam Hotel. Preserved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 as part of a New Deal initiative, the waters were a major draw for the region throughout the 20th century (and can now be combined with massage services, personal care, etc.).
Travel trends that will define 2022
Looking forward. As governments around the world ease coronavirus restrictions, the travel industry is hoping this will be the year travel comes back strong. Here’s what to expect:
Roosevelt was far from the first president to seek the healing benefits of hot springs. Thomas Jefferson reportedly spent 22 days at the Gentlemen’s Pool House in Hot Springs, Virginia, which is now part of the Omni Homestead Resort. The original pool house, built in 1791, is said to be the oldest spa structure in the United States and is being rehabilitated with a planned reopening later this year.
George Washington needed no such frills when looking for a bath in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., which he first visited as a surveyor’s assistant at age 16. Berkeley Springs State Park has recreated the “Washington Bath” (and holds an annual celebration in its honor each March), as well as more modern bathing offerings at the park’s Roman and Main Bathhouses. President Andrew Jackson passed legislation to protect the area that is now Hot Springs National Park in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1832 (technically predating Yellowstone by 40 years). Although there is no longer any opportunity for outdoor swimming, there are places to drink and touch the water and two places to soak in the park’s historic Bathhouse Row.