Everyone in Stanley is incredibly kind and welcoming. The local grocery store clerk invited us to the town’s yoga class, the attendant at the gas station gave us tips about the area and we almost always got a warm smile and a wave when passing by a local. I do have to warn you though, in the winter, this town is incredibly cold—the lowest recorded temperature in Stanley is -47.8°C (-54.0°F). Other than Alaska, it is consistently the coldest place in the US because of the dense, cold air from the surrounding peaks which come down into the valley. While I was there, it was around -10°C to -20°C and I basically never went outside without my parka and boots—but this is a given for any winter adventure. Now that I’ve warned you, let me tell you some reasons why I’d go back to Stanley in a heartbeat.
Along with the tasty potatoes and kind locals, Idaho has an abundance of hot springs, and I don’t say that lightly. It has the most usable hot springs pools in the nation, with approximately 130 'soakable' out of 340. In my mind, that’s 130 reasons to go to Idaho. I researched for a few weeks and found about 10 hot springs that I wanted to visit on this trip. I didn’t get to all of them because some of the logging roads that I needed to drive along were snowed in. Thankfully, I visited 5 and I absolutely loved each one. Below I’ve listed each, in no particular order.
As always, please follow the Leave No Trace Principles so that we can lessen our impact and keep these places in pristine condition. Read more about LNT Principles here.
Boat Box Hot Spring
This spot is a five minute drive from Stanley and is right off the highway. There’s a pull out that can fit two cars at most, so park there. The hot water comes from the mountain, through a pipe system and is funnelled into a big bowl. It’s perfect for soaking, but can only fit about 2-3 people. Please keep this capacity in mind when visiting. There are a few other pools along the river that are great to relax in as well, and I actually liked these better since they were a great temperature, deep and natural. This spot is run by locals and can get busy—so, I suggest stopping by at sunrise or sunset to experience it on your own.