When the soles of your feet are sore from a day on a dusty, winding trail, nothing soothes like a dip in a natural hot spring. The warm water offers relaxation and rejuvenation for your aching muscles. Try a soak in one of these hot springs from around the country.
Granite Hot Springs, Wyoming
One hour from Jackson, Wyoming, you'll find Granite Hot Springs, which have been developed into a concrete pool and bathing area, with picnic tables and changing areas in a wild and rustic forest setting. The Granite Hot Springs have two seasons: summer, which opens around late May and runs through October, and winter, which runs from December until April. Weather can pose issues, so make sure you check before you make the trek.
In winter, you can only reach the springs via skis or snowmobile. Despite the limited accessibility, the springs are increasingly popular among visitors taking advantage of the snow at nearby Jackson Hole.
Steep Ravine Hot Springs, California
Up in Marin County, north of San Francisco, are the Steep Ravine Hot Springs. They're located on Stinson Beach and are only available at low tide, so you'll want to time your visit appropriately. When the ocean flows out, the hot springs rise up through the sand to create unique tidal pools of warm mineral water.
If you happen to miss the pools, your trip won't be in vain. Stinson Beach is located alongside a quaint beach town, and you may even catch rock climbers on the boulders north of the springs. The forest trails of Mt. Tamalpais State Park and Muir Woods also begin just above the beach, with a wealth of options for every level of hiker.
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
The most famous of the various hot springs in the United States, the waters of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas have been attracting visitors for centuries — and long before the area became officially protected as one of the country's smallest and most unique national parks. It was first designated as the Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, at which point it was already known informally as the "American spa."
The park is home to 47 hot springs, with an average temperature of 143 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, this is too hot for people to soak in. However, there are two bathhouses in the park in which you can take advantage of the restorative waters, and — once cooled! — it is also safe to drink.
Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
The resort at Chena Hot Springs is a one-of-a-kind spot for remote relaxation and stunning natural beauty in Alaska's interior, about 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks. First developed by gold-mining brothers looking for a cure for rheumatism, today the resort offers a range of rooms and cabins for guests, in addition to hosting weddings and other events.
The hot springs form a natural outdoor lake, which is available to guests, as well as the resort's other hot tubs and an indoor pool. You can also take advantage of other activities in the area, including such Alaskan classics as dog sledding and — potentially — viewing the northern lights.
Boquillas Hot Springs, Texas
Just north of the Rio Grande, the Boquillas Hot Springs in Big Bend National Park are as far south as you can go without crossing the border into Mexico. From the bluff, you can even look over the river at our southern neighbor, before returning to the rejuvenating waters of the baths.
The water is contained in the remaining foundations of what was once the area's bathhouse, when Hot Springs was a spa town that grew up as a result of the Homestead Act in the early 1900s. Today, the ancient water emerges from the ground at 105 degrees.
Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado
Reaching the Conundrum Hot Springs is not for the faint of heart. They're situated at the end of an 8.5-mile hike in the Maroon Bells that gains 2,400 feet. The hot springs themselves are at 11,200 feet, so be prepared to notice the thinner air and lack of oxygen as you make your way up. Once there, though, you'll be treated to unmatched views of the surrounding peaks and forests, with a chance to give your muscles a well-deserved break in the warm water.
There are 20 campsites available at the campground and permits are required, so you'll need to plan your trip in advance. You'll likely want to stock up on supplies for the trek in Aspen, the nearest town to the trailhead.
Carson Mineral Hot Springs, Washington
If you prefer luxury to the outdoor ambience of the others on this list, head to Carson in Washington for a visit to the Carson Hot Springs Bathhouse. Mineral water is pumped into individual claw-foot tubs, allowing a level of solitude and privacy — as well as the opportunity to add additional bath salts and other natural ingredients — that you won't find at many other such springs.
The bathhouse itself dates back to the 1930s, while the rest of the resort offers all the amenities you'd expect from a modern-day spa. The experience is, nonetheless, one of traveling back in time, to an age before the stresses of the current world, and there's no better way to regain that sense of optimistic vitality than with a soak in one of the tubs.