To be honest, I didn't really want to go to a hot springs. In the UNITED STATES??? We just finished summer! But, I'm unfortunately afflicted by that bug of can't not doing something at least once so I can determine whether it's worth doing again. So Francois was able to get a Friday free and we decided to head on to McCall and stop by Gold Forks Hot Springs on the way.
So we lazily and slowly made our way to McCall on one epic Friday. State Highway 55 is gorgeous, by the way, but I'm onto the secret of Idaho-ans (how do you say people from Idaho exactly? Someone tell me). Idaho is gorgeous and beautiful and super underrated. I can't begin to explain what it feels like driving on a (great and super smooth!!) road through any of the mountains in Idaho. Especially as the sun sets and the light plays over the mountains, lighting some areas golden and shading some places dark green. Now that it's autumn, it has gotten even more beautiful, with trees alternating between beautiful green and bright yellow.
And then we turn right on Farm to Market Road and suddenly Idaho changes again and for the first time, I feel like I'm in the wild wild west. Narrow dirt roads, wooden fences and ranches alongside of you as you drive to Gold Forks Hot Spring. I felt like I was in a movie just seeing how beautiful those ranches where, with the rivers or creeks running through them behind the fences.
But as we got nearer and nearer Gold Forks and what felt like the middle of nowhere, I remember thinking "someone could murder us and hide our bodies and not find us for months." Also the thought of the place being so remote, it might just be the hole in the ground springs that I've read terrible reviews for (there is apparently one near Boise where kids party so it's dirty and full of trash.... and also defecation and urination! Urination maybe you hear about... but defecation?!).
Add the teeny bit of murder thought apprehension to my very real reluctance to dress down into my swimsuit in (what is to me) frigid autumn cold and I was getting less and less excited to get to the hot springs.
But you know what the best thing is about low expectations? It's when what comes after deserves the best expectations. I am so glad I was so wrong about Gold Forks.
After you park and walk up the driveway, your first glimpse as you get used to the steam rising through the air is the wooden platform dividing the main pools, chairs and umbrellas and really pretty landscaped pools. I admit to a slight jaw drop, which became a larger jaw drop when I saw the Main Office, a pretty little Yurt, complete with carpets and fully furnished inside. It even included a little heater I was kind of obsessed with (pioneer dreams much!).
For $8 per person, you get access to pools ranging from 40-43 degree Celsius. The lower you go, the cooler the water is as it trickles down through a series of pools from its original source. We started with the lowest pools with beautiful rock bottoms, before heading up to the middle pool with a sandy bottom and little waterfall of hotter water coming from the largest pool. The sandy pool kind of reminded you of being on a tropical beach.... if the outside of the beach was freezing cold.
And then after it starts cooling down and you're getting less pleased with the idea of sand being up your crack, you muster up the bravery, courage and thick skin to run from the 10 feet from above pool to below pool.
Sadly, my mantra of trying everything once didn't extend to the hottest pool, a whopping 43 degree pool that was so hot, i couldn't even dip my foot into it. But for those brave souls with blood made of hellfire, I'm sure it feels pretty awesome. It felt pretty amazing cooling down by the pool before getting back inside.
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.