The Best Idaho Hot Spring!

Posted by Mike and Erica Carr on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 at 6:35pm.

Bear Valley Hot Springs

Located on the edge of the Frank Church Wilderness Area in the headwaters of the famous Middle Fork Of The Salmon River it is the best hot spring you haven't been too! In fact you may have never even heard of! Hard to get to, even harder to leave. The temperature is perfect, the smell nonexistent and the volume is out of this world! If you are a rafter you have heard of, or visited some of the more famous Middle Fork Of The Salmon hot springs like Trail Flat, Sunflower and Loon Creek, but chances are you have not been to or experienced one quite this nice. Deeper and bigger than Loon Creek and without the overly hot issue that Trail Flat often experiences. Plus when sitting it is up to your neck rather than your belly button like Sunflower! It is well worth the effort to get to this hidden jewel!

Bear Valley Creek

Tucked away on the banks of Bear Valley Creek just a half mile above the confluence with Marsh Creek you will find a spring that rivals them all, Jerry Johnson, Barth, 16 mile, you name it. Been there and know of one you like better, please share! This one is complimented by a wonderful camp site adjacent to the pool itself. I mentioned the volume earlier, the first time we floated by on marsh creek and attempted to find the pool, it was so big we thought it was a creek that had come down from on high, we never even tested the water because we were sure that was just another 10 foot wide ice cold mountain stream. How foolish I felt upon rafting down Bear Valley Creek to realize "the creek" was actually the supply of 100 degree water that we had been searching for the last time we hiked up from the confluence.

How Do You Get To Bear Valley Hot Springs?

There are 2 ways, float or walk. Both starting from the Fir Creek Campground.

Float


Bear Valley Creek Hot SpringsSpring is the best time to float. It is tight and very technical in the last mile before the confluence and river wide logs are a constant threat the whole way. Small rafts can float down Bear Valley creek, making it down to the springs if flows on the middle fork guage are 2.7 -3.0 feet and higher. Under 2.5 feet you can make it down in 8-12 foot cats if you are willing to drag over some spots(like 10 or 30). The first mile of the float is wide gravel bars and at a certain point forget the boat and hike the 4 miles down to the hot springs which are about a quarter to half a mile above the confluence with Marsh Creek (you can float Marsh Creek to). It will be less work than dragging the boat 4 miles. The float out from the springs onto the Middle Fork Of The Salmon at The Big Hole and on down the 10 miles to Dagger Falls is classic upper middle fork with one technical class 3 and about 100 class 2 plus rapids! The fishing is almost as good as the soaking!

Hike

Because of the low river levels in the fall it is the best time to hike to Bear Valley Hot Springs. The trail which starts at the footbridge upstream of the campground is back Fir Creek Campgroundcountry at it's finest, complete with a lack of maintenance and multiple river crossings, both of which help keep out the faint of heart. Rumor has it you can bushwhack down the south side the first mile or so and from there the trail stays on the south side all the way. 

Spring is the best time to float. It is tight and very technical in the last mile before the confluence and river wide logs are a constant threat from the get go. Small rafts can float down Bear Valley Creek, making it down to the springs if flows on the Middle Fork gauge are 2.7 -3.0 feet and higher. Under 2.5 feet you can make it down in 8-12 foot cats if you are willing to drag over some spots(like 10 or 30). The first mile of the float is wide gravel bars and at a certain point forget the boat and hike the 4 miles down to the hot springs which are about a quarter to half a mile above the confluence with Marsh Creek (you can float Marsh Creek to). It will be less work than dragging the boat 4 miles. 

In the end, if you love great hot springs and have not been to this one. Grab your pack get off your fanny and visit this weekend! The elk are bugling, the wolfs howling, the stars ever brilliant at this gem of the mountains!! You might howl to after enjoying a little time in the best little hot springs you have never heard of!

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