Today we continued our winter hot spring tour at the snowy Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in the Clearwater National Forest in Montana / Northern Idaho. If you are planning to visit Idaho or the Missoula, Montana area and are in the mood to take a dip in some of the beautiful natural hot springs around the area this is a must stop place.
To get to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs you have to start at the "Warm Springs Trailhead". It is located about 75 miles south of Missoula in the Clearwater National Forest of Montana / Northern Idaho. The trailhead is across the street from the parking lot. The footbridge over the river is what you are aiming for to start your journey. The ride in is a gorgeous scenic road through the mountains just along the Lochsa River and is located conveniently a few miles away from the Weir Creek Hot Springs. If you are stopping by here it is totally worth planning to go to Weir Creek, too. There is no cell signal AT ALL, so, make sure you get all your coordinates and maps before exploring the area. When you get to the parking lot, there is a pit toilet and trash. Here are the coordinates to the parking lot:
One of the best parts of this trip is the amount of natural hot springs that are along highway 12. There are three well known springs along this road. Coming from the Montana side of route 12 you will first come across Jerry Johnson Hot Springs Trailhead on the left (the parking lot is on the right), Weir Creek Hot Springs Trailhead on the right, and Stanley Hot Springs further down the road (we didn't make it to Stanley... Yet). The hike to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is an easy 2.6 mile out and back hike (1.3 each way) that runs along side a gorgeous river.
Our journey started when we left Weir Creek. We parked at the lot for Jerry Johnson later in the day and saw that there were many people there. It was a Sunday, so, the weekend warriors were out to play. We decided to spend the night in the lot and get an early jump for Monday morning. We woke up the following day and were so grateful for our decision. There was only one other car in the lot.
We went in and had an AMAZING experience! On the way in, we ran into the people who owned the other car in the lot and they were turning back to go to Weir Creek. We got the impression that they didn't find the main area. If they did they wouldn't have left, but, we tried to let them know and they insisted on leaving, so, had the whole place to ourselves and spent four hours soaking up these hot springs. It worked out better than we could have hoped for.
There are so many hot springs all around this area to explore. You can easily fill up a whole day hot spring hopping and finding the right temp pool for you. We spent most of our time soaking in a spring right next to the river. It was absolutely gorgeous listening to the river flow by, seeing the ice and snow on the river bed, and soaking in the heat of our own personal earth fired hot tub. It is an experience words can't explain.
If you are planning to make a trip out to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs we would definitely recommend a weekday morning trip. Afternoons and weekends can be a bit crowded. Weekends especially! A night time soak is a great one, too, especially if you're into star gazing.
As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!