Welcome to our round-up of the 5 publicly accessible natural hot springs in Washington state! These are all completely undeveloped and free to visit, which makes it especially important to leave no trace and do your part to keep them clean. Each hot spring requires either a short walk or long hike to gain access, we’ve shared those details below so you can plan appropriately.
We've also created a map showing where each hot spring is located in the state...you could even plan a Washington road trip to visit more than one hot spring!
- Olympic Hot Springs (21 mile hike 😲)
- Baker Hot Springs (most accessible)
- Sulphur Creek Hot Springs (pack a machete, hard to find 🕷️)
- Wind River Hot Springs
- Gamma Hot Springs (mythic level! 👻)
1. Olympic Hot Springs
This hot springs is located in Olympic National Park, near Elwha Washington. It's truly a natural undeveloped spot, but get ready for a long hike to reach it! Due to flood damage closing part of the road, the trailhead now begins at the Madison Falls parking lot at the park boundary. The trail is more of a road for most of the journey; you'll be hiking 21.6 miles out and back - woof! If you enjoy biking, the first 9 miles of the trail are paved and bike-able, so that's also an option. When you reach the hot springs area, you'll have a few different pools to choose from. Some are right along the trail and others are a bit more secluded. Be sure to test the temperature because it can fluctuate widely, sometimes reaching as high as 118 degrees!
Trail Note: Road closure! Check updated status here: https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/current-road-conditions.htm
image courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/theycallme_booger/
Photos courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/belenakole/
2. Baker Hot Springs
Two natural gravelly bottomed hot springs located near Concrete, WA - one large and one small. You can access these via a very rough road plus a short 0.6 mile hike (high clearance 4wd is a necessity). Reports tell us there are a few hot spring sources entering the pools and temperature depends how close you are to a source and the season of the year. Volcanic ash sometimes clogs the vents so you may need to dig down to clear them.
Note: check for road closures here before you go! https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mbs/alerts-notices
Photo taken in December (!!) courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/findmeoffgrid/
Photo taken in November, courtesy of https://www.instagram.com/daniellelilleston/
3. Sulphur Creek Hot (Warm?) Springs
This mysterious natural hot spring requires a seemingly simple four mile out and back hike that starts near Darrington, WA. However be warned...recent trail reports say this trail is extremely overgrown and difficult to follow. Some say to bring a machete (lol!) or maybe just a big stick to clear away the huge spider webs that are everywhere. There are fallen logs and a river crossing that can be sketchy, and the road to access the trailhead may be closed due to past fires. So be ready for an adventure out there folks! Once you cross the river, continue up the creek and look for stone steps to find the pool - it's hidden and small with room for about two people. Temperature reports clock this spring in at around 98 degrees, so it will likely feel more warm than hot. Enjoy!
Note: The trail may be closed due to a fire in 2022. The Suittle River Road may also be closed due to another fire. Please check updated conditions before you go! https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/mbs/alerts-notices
Further Reading: we found this detailed trail account from 2003 quite interesting! https://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3231
Trail Sign photo courtesy of Roy J via https://www.wta.org/
4. Wind River Hot Springs
You'll find these hot springs just north of the Oregon border, near the town of Carson WA. The springs are located on the Wind River and are below the natural waterline of the river and so are on public land...however they are surrounded by private land and so can be tricky to access without trespassing. Details on exactly how to access the hot springs are conflicting, however parking on neighborhood surface streets and then hiking across private land is sure to cause trouble. Don't do that! Visitors have reported good results with paying to park at Carson Hot Springs (map below) then hiking from there to access the natural hot springs on the river. Beware a tricky river crossing will be required, so if the river is high and wild it might be too dangerous to reach the springs!
Image thanks to Tiny Go Go blog at http://tinygogo.blogspot.com/2013/10/wind-river-hot-springs.html
5. Gamma Hot Springs
These hot springs are so difficult to find they're officially ranked as mythic level in our book! Think of finding these springs as a quest, where only the worthy will succeed. And those who do succeed keep the hard earned details private (and we don't blame them one bit!) One thing everyone can agree on is the basics of their location. The Gamma Hot Springs are located in the North Cascades, below Gamma Peak, which is located near Darrington WA (just like the also mysterious Sulphur Hot Springs!). To reach them it's a 5-6 day backcountry hiking journey. You'll face washed out trails, fallen trees, and lots of bushwhacking. Expert level route finding skills and cross country travel are required - you will not be breezing along on a maintained trail to find these springs. If you manage to find them, we can pretty much guarantee you'll have them to yourself. Good luck out there folks!
Location: lots of good info has been gathered on this blog, but you'll need to do a lot of research on your own too! https://www.traversethepnw.com/post/visit-gamma-hot-springs-in-washington