Post Summary: What To Expect at Burgdorf Hot Springs (Updated Fall 2021)
Natural healing hot springs, woodstoves for heat, log cabins with no electricity – does a place like this even still exist?
Deep in the Idaho backcountry, not only does a place like this exist, it THRIVES as a matter-of-fact!
Burgdorf Hot Springs is a rustic backcountry oasis frozen in time, welcoming guests from all around the world to partake in its healing waters, simple lifestyle, and generous hospitality.
Idaho Statesman’s outdoor writer Roger Phillips termed Burgdorf “the crown jewel of McCalls Backcountry” and we couldn’t agree more.
Berty and I spent our own amazing weekend at Burgdorf, and in this post, we’re sharing what you can expect on your own relaxing trip here.
Keep scrolling for cabin photos, an all-inclusive packing list, and the area’s unique history and story!
Burgdorf Hot Springs: Everything You Need To Know About This Backcountry Idaho Escape
Is Burgdorf just one stop on your Idaho adventure? You will like these nearby destinations too:
- 10 Magical Weekend Getaways From Boise, Idaho
- Trail Creek Hot Springs near McCall, Idaho
- Stay in Crystal Peak Lookout – an amazing fire lookout on Airbnb!
- Go Backcountry Yurt Camping in the Boise National Forest!
What is Burgdorf Hot Springs?
Burgdorf Hot Springs is the perfect combination of natural and resort-like Idaho hot springs. Rich in history (scroll down to read more about that), this place has been lovingly cared for over the years.
After an hour’s drive north of McCall, Idaho you’ll discover this little oasis settled in a beautiful meadow surrounded by huge pine trees.
However, calling it a “resort” is actually a little bit of a stretch in the modern term – there is no cell service, practically no electricity, and no heat source except the fires you make for yourself!
But what they don’t have in modern tech they make up for in many other ways. Gorgeous soaking pools, crackling morning fires, and extraordinary hospitality are just some of the highlights!
Burgdorf Hot Springs is available for cabin guests year-round, by reservation only. In the winter, guests must bring their own snowmobiles. But if you’re planning a winter visit, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post to read our Burgdorf In Winter tips!
History of Burgdorf Hot Springs
The first person to homestead the hot springs was a man named Fred Burgdorf in the 1870s. Fred built the first log hotel on the property and was known for his generous hospitality and hot meals.
Burgdorf has seen many people throughout the years, from Idaho miners to outdoor enthusiasts to guests who want a unique hotel/rustic resort experience.
Fred Burgdorf and his singer/entertainer wife Jeanette Foransard from Denver built the log hotel and their own log home on the property (and they still stand today!).
In 1923, Burgdorf Hot Springs was sold to James Harris and he built the larger log pool that’s still present today, as well as many of the existing cabins on the property.
In 1961, Burgdorf Hot Springs was declared a National Register Historic Site. The resort has seen several caretakers, all of whom have put so much love and care into the property over the years.
There has been a great effort to maintain this rustic and historic vibe so that guests can feel like they’ve stepped into the original hot springs resort from the 1800s.
Today, a conservation agreement between the U.S. Forest Service, Nez Perce Tribe, Idaho Fish and Game, and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has made it possible for this area to be protected in perpetuity. Yay!
How To Get To Burgdorf Hot Springs
*Before you drive: you must obtain prior reservations online or by phone. There is no drop-in access at this time. Please call ahead to book a cabin stay for a chance to soak in the pools.
The trip to Burgdorf Hot Springs is a beautiful drive through the Idaho forest, along the Payette Lake, upper Payette Lake, and the adjoining creek along the road.
You’ll spend most of your time driving on Warren Wagon Road (USFS Rd. #21) until you make that final left turn onto Burgdorf Road (USFS Rd. #246).
The 30 miles on Warren Wagon is a paved road, with the final two miles being gravel on Burgdorf Road.
The drive is great, however, it’s quite far from major cities. The closest town is the mountain resort town of McCall Idaho, and the closest major city is Boise, Idaho.
Distances from popular locations:
- McCall, Idaho to Burgdorf Hot Springs: 1-hour drive. 30 miles.
- Boise, Idaho to Burgdorf Hot Springs: 3-hour 20 minutes drive. 137 miles.
- Spokane, Washington to Burgdorf Hot Springs: 5-hour 40 minute drive. 290 miles.
*Driving in winter? Scroll down to the bottom to read essential directions to reaching Burgdorf in the winter months.*
The Pools at Burgdorf Hot Springs
Now the moment you’ve been waiting for – the pools! This is the draw of Burgdorf – the natural geothermal pools ready for a relaxing soak in the middle of the forest!
The main source of the springs comes from two small log pools that stay at a toasty 113 degrees. The water flows from the small pools into the larger one – which remains a nice 100 degrees.
At this time, soaking is only available for cabin guests. Guests are required to show proof of vaccination and follow the current health regulations and policies in place. Please refer to their health policy page here for the latest updates.
The Large Pool
The largest pool (located in the middle of the property) is a 50-f00t x 75-foot timber-lined pool with a sandy bottom. There is pool access by stairs on both sides.
The depth is around 4.5 feet (137 centimeters), and there is a shallow section in the corner for younger soakers. Burgdorf has pool noodles and other floatation devices for universal use around the pool, but you can also bring your own!
Every minute, 150 gallons of natural hot springs water is fed into the pools, so there’s always a fresh turnover!
Next to the large pool are two smaller ones, covered by a simple shelter. These are the original pools, with thermal spring water feeding the pools with super hot water.
These ones are quite a bit hotter – it averages 113 degrees. I could barely step in the pools and Berty said it felt like his body was covered in pins and needles!
Needless to say, this would probably feel INCREDIBLE after a long day of skiing or hiking nearby on Brundage Mountain!
It’s recommended that little ones be watched around here, as the water can get too hot for kids.
Even Smaller Pool: The Tub!
The tub has been quite popular with soakers! The water flowing into the tub is the runoff from the main pools, which ultimately exits off into the stream below.
It’s a little cooler than the large pool, but still warm enough to enjoy a leisurely soak.
We visited it multiple times and it’s a fun place to take photos and enjoy yet another exciting feature at Burgdorf Hot Springs!
Best Time To Visit The Pools:
There is never a bad time to visit the pools at Burgdorf Hot Springs, although you’ll find it enjoyed most by visitors on the weekends. Come during the weekday to experience smaller crowds!
As a cabin guest, you have 24-hour access to the pools. Make sure to follow these hot springs etiquette tips so that everyone can enjoy their soak!
Berty and I loved visiting the pools during sunrise on a cold morning. The air was crisp, the ground covered in frost, and the pools extra steamy. It made for some amazing photos!
Staying Overnight at Burgdorf
Currently, the only way to experience Burgdorf Hot Springs is to stay overnight in their rustic and historic cabins.
Burgdorf Hot Springs offers 15 simple cabins to rent all across the property. Each with its own unique history and stories, every single one looks different!
You can book small and simple ones that fit only two people or bring your entire party and rent “The Castle” cabin that can hold up to 12 guests.
However, this isn’t your typical cabin getaway. Burgdorf cabins have no electricity and no running water, which means you have to be prepared to “camp” indoors.
This includes packing in your own bedding, food, water, and lighting, just for the bare necessities. It also means that you’ll be doing your business in a *drumroll please* pit toilet! It’s located just outside of the cabin.
Here’s what each cabin is guaranteed:
- A wood-burning stove, with instructions on how to use them
- Firewood (a small fee is added to your stay during winter months to cover this cost)
- Beds and Mattresses (quantity depending on the cabin you rent)
You are responsible for bringing your own:
- Appropriate bedding for the season (sleeping bags, pillows, etc)
- Water vessel (they have tap water on-site)
- Items for cooking your own food (see our packing list below)
- Food for your stay (but they have a limited, light menu on-site)
- Lighting for your cabin
- Anything you may need for overnight use/camping
Check-in is anytime after 3:00 pm, and check-out is anytime before 12:00 pm. However, if you decided to arrive early or leave later, cabin guests can enjoy the hot springs before and after check-in!
How Do I Book My Overnight Stay at Burgdorf Hot Springs?
It is now incredibly easy to book your stay at Burgdorf Hot Springs. You can book by calling, or browse available cabins online.
Cash is preferred, but you can also pay online with a credit card.
- Call their number here to book a stay: (208) 636-3036
We booked our stay online, and they included an open calendar of which cabins are available and photos of the interior/exterior of each.
There is also a cabin map online outlining the location of each, and to our surprise, we discovered that every one of them was fairly close together on site.
Note: You cannot arrive on-site and book your overnight stay for that same night. You must book in advance.
Caring For Your Rustic Cabin
So you’ve decided to book an overnight stay? Lucky you! We think this is the best way to experience Burgdorf Hot Springs.
Each cabin at Burgdorf has its own unique features, history, and stories. Really, nearly 100 years ago people lived in these cabins helping around the homestead and welcoming guests to Burgdorf!
Help preserve these beautiful structures by following these guidelines:
- Treat it like you would your own home!
- Keep the walls free of initials, writing, or mementos.
- Pack out your garbage. There are no public dumpsters on site!
- Read the proper ways to operate your wood-stove. The lobby can assist you and give you advice if it is your first time starting a fire this way.
How To Manage Your Wood Burning Stove
Locate the damper and air vents. Make sure you know how to open and close them before operating the stove.
- Damper: Located in the stovepipe, keep it open when starting the fire and partially close it to create radiant heat.
- Air Vent: Keep open to start the fire, close vents to slow down the burn time and keep your fire burning longer.
Create a small starter fire of dry newspaper and kindling. After you start it, slowly add more and more wood.
Always keep the wood stove door shut. These are WOOD cabins as you know! One spark is all it takes!
Questions? Notify the Burgdorf staff! They will happily supply you with more wood, kindling, or newspaper and help you troubleshoot your fire.
What is the Burgdorf Lobby Like?
The Office is centrally located – literally steps away from the pool.
The lobby is where you’ll check in to use the pool for the day, and check into your cabins for your overnight stay.
On the inside, it feels like your best friend’s ski cabin.
Puzzles are strewn across the table, towels drying by the fire, and a piano with books for entertainment make it feel like it’s somehow always been in your memory.
Light snacks and local goodies are available for purchase. While your food is being prepared, wander around reading the many resources about Burgdorf’s history, Idaho backcountry handbooks, and other interesting finds hidden on the lobby shelves.
What To Pack When Visiting Burgdorf Hot Springs
Swimsuit, Towel, and Slip-On Shoes
What’s a visit to Burgdorf without soaking in the hot springs?
If you’re staying multiple days, we suggest reading our hot springs packing list. Pack multiple suits, because nothing is worse than putting back on a cold and wet suit! Hang your wet one to dry by the fire and wear the dry one. Then swap when you’re ready for your next soak!
- A swimsuit (or multiple)
- A towel (we definitely suggest getting the quick-dry variety – our favorites are from Nomadix Co.)
- Flip flops or slippers
Nights can get a bit chilly at Burgdorf. At 6,000 feet elevation, this backcountry Idaho location can bring cold evenings and even more chilly mornings.
We have some favorite blankets for different types of activities. Here is what we recommend packing:
- A lightweight blanket (like this one from Rumpl) for sitting by the campfire and warming up inside the cabin.
- A heavier, wool blanket to line your bed for extra warmth! We bought this one made by Pendleton and not only is it beautiful but it’s INCREDIBLY warm!
At Burgdorf, it’s expected for you to bring your own bedding. You can get really fancy and bring things like sheets, comforters, and pillows, but we kept things simple and bought our all-season sleeping bags.
We recommend these items for a cozy and comfortable sleep:
- An all-season sleeping bag (0-degree bags will keep you warm on those cold nights!).
- Inflatable Pillow. We rave about this one from Sea To Summit and it packs down to fit in your palm.
Sleeping Hack: Forgot your pillow? Stuff some clothing in your sleeping bag case for an instant pillow! Wrap it in your favorite sweater to make the outside soft and comfy to rest your head.
In order to prepare meals at Burgdorf Hot Springs, you need to pack everything from a water vessel to prepared food, utensils, cups, pots, and even cleanup supplies!
- A Water Jug. Definitely necessary to pack a big one to save you multiple trips to the lobby!
- Water heating source. Our favorite, lightweight option is from JetBoil.
- Reusable mess wares. We recommend these plates, these mugs (with lids!), and these utensils for sustainable and reusable options.
- A few rags for cleanup instead of paper towels to reduce waste!
- Garbage Bags
Note: The lobby and staff provide simple meals like burritos and local pizza (frozen and heated up by request), coffee, snacks, and pastries by a local McCall bakery, but check for current hours of operation on-site.
While these are great options, don’t rely on this service as your only food source!
Food To Prepare at Burgdorf
The easiest way to prepare meals in your cabin is with freeze-dried meals and simple recipes!
- Instant Coffee With Creamer: All in one packet with little mess!
- Hot Cocoa Mix: Drink alone or add to your morning coffee to make a mocha!
- Instant Oatmeal Packets: Perfect for quick meals. Add berries or brown sugar for a little something extra!
- Simple Make-Your-Own Sandwiches: Bring a loaf of bread, some meat, cheese, Peanut Butter, Jelly, and condiments for easy meals that everyone in your party can customize.
- Mountain House Freeze-Dried Meals: We like to buy this big bucket for variety and volume. It lasts us quite a few meals and breaks down to about $7 per pouch. Even better, all you have to add is water!
Read this blog post for our favorite camping cooking gear and easy meals!
10+ Easy + Simple Camping Meals To Make On Your Next Backcountry Adventure
Like stated above, Burgdorf Hot Springs has no electricity in their guest cabins. This allows guests to really experience what life was like in those early resort days, as well as have a chance to have a fun and unique cabin experience!
It gets pretty dark at night, so packing proper lighting is absolutely essential. We definitely suggest packing the following:
Light Hack: Are you a climber? Pack a few carabineers to attach to your lantern handle and the beams around the cabin. This will help bring more light around the cabin!
Going to and from the hot springs requires cozy layers, even more important when getting OUT of the hot springs and staying warm!
If you’re visiting Burgdorf, you’ll find yourself going between your cabin and the pool many many times. We stayed for two nights and visited the pools four times!
In order to easily bring your stuff back and forth, bring a trusty tote bag to carry your gear.
There are heated dressing rooms, so you can step out of the pool and retrieve your pre-warmed towel and clothing!
What’s In Your Pool Bag?
Visiting Burgdorf Hot Springs In Winter
Burdorf is open seasonally with occasional closures in fall and spring, and access can be limited in the winter season. The US Forest Service does not plow the entire road Warren Wagon Road (USFS Road #21) and guests must drive their own snowmobiles to reach the hot springs.
Sitting at 6,000 feet, this backcountry Idaho oasis gets a TON of snow. In 1974, the hot springs were buried with a record reaching 7 feet of snow!
Warren Wagon Road is only plowed for a few miles north of McCall in the winter season, which means you’ll need your own transportation to go the remaining 22 miles! Visitors can drive their own snowmobiles to Burgdorf, or you can rent some in town for your trip.
Ready to make your own Idaho winter road trip route to Burgdorf? You’re in for a treat!
Snowmobile Rentals That Collaborate With Burgdorf Hot Springs: