A lot of things surprised me about this classic Idaho Hot Spring. But it was an absolute highlight on our trip and probably our favorite of the three hot springs we checked out in Idaho. Visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs in the winter just seemed extra special combined with having it all to ourselves. I’m going to share all the tips and information I have to make your experience here as magical as possible!
Land Acknowledgement: Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla, Lemhi-Shoshone and Shoshone-Bannock. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting! Consider visiting nearby cultural centers and seeking out other ways to financially support Indigenous People.
- Know Before You Go: Hot Springs Etiquette
- Visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs in Idaho: Overview
- Video of my Trip to Idaho Hot Springs:
- What to Expect at Sunbeam Hot Springs:
- Best Time of Year to Visit:
- Managing the Temperature of the Pools
- Nudity? Wildlife? Capacity? Water Quality?
- Directions to Sunbeam Hot Springs
- Where to Stay When Visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs?
- Other Nearby Destinations:
- Packing List
Photos in Collaboration with Johnathon DeSoto
Know Before You Go: Hot Springs Etiquette
Let’s start by brushing up on Hot Spring etiquette. Maybe you’ve been to a few hot springs, but you might learn something that can help keep these hot springs around longer for everyone to enjoy!
Read my Hot Springs Etiquette Guide HERE. Comment if you think anything needs to be added, or other hot spring etiquette tips.
- Leave No Trace: includes packing out all food waste (fruit peels, nut shells, etc.) and toilet paper
- No Glass
- Clothing Optional
- Don’t use any products – not even biodegradable soaps, Sunscreen, etc. And do NOT urinate in the pools. (What goes in a pool, stays in a pool)
- Watch out for trash/glass (wear protective footwear down to the pools)
- Be polite and keep your noise to a normal level.
I like to bring gloves and a trash bag to every hot spring I visit. You never know if there will be trash or hazardous glass that should be removed for your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others.
Note: This hot spring is volunteer run and managed. Please be respectful.
Visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs in Idaho: Overview
Sunbeam Hot Springs is a year-round outdoor adventure made up of 5 manmade pools. Two of the pools are recycled metal tubs that have water feeding into them. But the other pools are located along the edge of the Salmon River and are lined with rocks to section off pools.
- Temperature is between 100°F and 110°F (43°C) – Always test the water first!!
- No Hike in is Required. It is a short walk from the Parking Area.
- Open Year Round
- Dogs allowed on leash, but NOT in the pools.
- Bathroom and changing room is available at the parking lot.
Video of my Trip to Idaho Hot Springs:
What to Expect at Sunbeam Hot Springs:
Best Time of Year to Visit:
SUNBEAM HOT SPRINGS WINTER EXPERIENCE
This depends so much on the type of experience you want. My priority was to visit with the highest chance of NO other people being there, and was successful.
We went in January of 2023 on a Monday morning. It was about 10 degrees F outside, but with the pools being over 100°F – I was not bothered by that. If you’re looking to go with as little people as possible – weekdays and mornings are your best bet.
Winter Con: There is a risk that the roads to get to Stanley and Sunbeam Hot Springs are closed or unmanageable for your vehicle. I’ll discuss this in more detail below in the Directions section.
Summer is the most popular season, with Fall right behind that. I’ve seen the trip reports where people are packed in like sardines. If you are going in the Summer, prepare to go EARLY, like an hour before sunrise to secure parking and pool access.
Managing the Temperature of the Pools
I chose to get in the metal round pool and the water was probably close or hotter than 110°F. It was HOT especially on my frozen feet. A bucket should be somewhere around the hot springs (unless someone was rude and took it).
We used the bucket to dump about 6 buckets of snow and river water into the pool to cool it down.
When arriving at the pool, I’d recommend removing the white plastic pipe that funnels the water into the pool from the hot spring source. It will start to naturally cool down on its own in the winter time. I noticed the water at the bottom was pretty cool.
Be sure to replace the PVC pipe and bucket when you are finished enjoying the hot springs. In the Summer, it is nice that you can jump into the river to cool down!
Nudity? Wildlife? Capacity? Water Quality?
All questions I wanted to know before going. I personally do not recommend enjoying these nude just because it is RIGHT off the highway. Of course it is up to you, as swimsuits are optional. If you are here during any time except winter – expect to share this space with many other people! The pools at the river are SHALLOW and the water is VERY clear. That being said, if you are a family with young children – always expect and prepare for nudity.
There used to be a bath house here is what I read! There is a changing room that has partial privacy and there is also a pit toilet outhouse where you could have total privacy.
Apparently wildlife sightings are VERY common here. It is right on the Salmon River in the Salmon-Challis National Forest. We saw a bald eagle fly over us a couple times. I’ve read reports of elk, deer, and bear sightings!
There are 5 pools total. Two of these are medium sized basins. I would say only 2 people can fit in each basin, 3 if you really wanted to be cozy. The river pools can hold slightly more people and I have read reports of 5-6 people in the pools.
I was surprised by how clear the water was here! In the winter it had a really lovely steam coming up off the springs that you could see from the road. I don’t have a very sensitive sense of smell, but sunbeam hot springs did not have a strong odor. Just be warned the rocks are slippery from ice in the winter and slippery from algae in the summer.
Directions to Sunbeam Hot Springs
Where is Sunbeam? The Sunbeam Hot Springs Directions are very simple! It is 12.7 miles outside of Stanley Idaho on Highway 75 going Northeast. I used google maps ‘Sunbeam Hot Spring’ and it was perfectly accurate.
Continue North from Stanley on State Highway 75 North for 12 miles the pull off will be on the right hand side of the road coming from Stanley.
What is the Best Route? Winter Driving to Sunbeam Hot Springs
If it is in the summer time, you may be traveling to multiple hot springs along Highway 75: Boatbox, Kirkham, Pine Flats, Challis hot springs are all nearby. You may be coming from Highway 21 which is very scenic and has loads of hot springs, camping and views.
We chose to take highway 20 to highway 75 because of snow and ice conditions in the winter. But both highway 21 and highway 75 have mountain passes, but because of Sun Valley Ski Resort being on Highway 75, that route is kept clear more consistently. Highway 75 through Sawtooth National Forest was absolutely breathtaking.
TIP: Use 511.idaho.gov to see real time updates on road conditions. I stalked this website for a week leading up to our trip to make sure the roads would be clear enough for us to drive through.
Parking Information + are there fees?
Great news is that there are NO fees or parking passes needed to enjoy Sunbeam Hot Springs. Whether or not you get a parking spot will determine if you can visit.
The parking lot is a small pull off. It was covered in snow when we arrived. But I’m estimating around 8-10 cars could park there depending on whether people park close together or not. Arrive early!! But another option is to keep checking back throughout the day! We did this with Boatbox hot spring and got parking on our second attempt.
Is a Hike Required to reach Sunbeam Hot Springs?
I was trying so hard to find this information out before going and couldn’t find it anywhere! There is a VERY short walk downhill from the parking area to the river. In the winter it was all covered in snow so it was hard to see if there was a path. Luckily people had been there before us so the snow was packed down. You can see the hot spring at the river from the parking lot.
Where to Stay When Visiting Sunbeam Hot Springs?
Mountain Village Resort
I booked a room at Mountain Village Resort in Stanley Idaho. I think the best part is that it comes with a chance to reserve the hot spring they have on site. I’ll be doing a full review on this place too, so stay tuned for that.
The rooms are very basic, but it is nice that a restaurant is right across the street. They were VERY understanding when we needed a late checkout when our van wouldn’t start.
Price during Winter: $102 before taxes/fees
Price during Summer: $150 before taxes/fees
If you are going in the warmer months, there are so many incredible campgrounds that I’m wanting to check out!
- Open May-September
- First Come, First Serve
- Open May-September
- First Come, First Serve
If you’re looking for FREE campsites check out my guide:
Other Nearby Destinations:
Check out another hot spring just down the road – Boat Box Hot Spring!
There are some essentials for winter season I wish I would have brought to make this hot spring trip more enjoyable!
- Snow boots! The snow was SO deep to get down to the hot spring
- Blanket – I so wish I had something to stand on when getting undressed and redressed.
- Bathrobe – makes for a quick change and more privacy when changing
- Warm Hat
Of the Idaho hot springs we went to, Sunbeam Hot Springs was our favorite. I like that it has different pool options and a decent parking area. And with it being only 20 minutes away from Stanley, it was easy to get out there first thing in the morning to have it to ourselves! I can’t wait to go back in the Summer to experience it in a different way and camp in that area!
Share and Save for Later!