The Ultimate Guide To Skillern Hot Springs in Idaho

Looking for those elusive Idaho hot springs that aren’t frequented by many people? Skillern Hot Springs is exactly that!

While I know you’re thinking “but you’re writing a blog post about it -won’t it get popular now?” and the answer is, probably not.

The journey to Skillern Hot Springs is a complex and tedious one, only for the patient at heart. If that’s you, and you’re determined to reach it, you’ve come to the right place!

In this post, we’re sharing how to get to Skillern Hot Springs, including driving directions, hiking routes, soaking tips, and more.

Let’s get started!

The Ultimate Guide To Skillern Hot Springs

Skillern Hot Springs At-a-Glance

  • Location: Sawtooth National Forest
  • Water Temperatures:
  • Number of Pools: 1-2 depending on your definition.
  • Popularity: 2/10, not popular and very remote
  • Nudity? Expected.
Getting to the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho

Where Is Skillern Hot Springs?

Getting to Skillern Hot Springs required patience, persistence, and planning. It’s not convenient to reach like Kirkham Hot Springs or Sunbeam Hot Spring!

It’s a great day trip if you’re planning a trip to Sun Valley in the fall, or simply enjoying all the cool things to do in Twin Falls. Just note, it’s an all-day adventure!

Reaching Skillern requires a 1-hour drive from Fairfield and a 6-mile hike to reach the pools. Set your Google Maps to Canyon Transfer Camp. This is where you’ll be parking, and it’s also a great spot to go camping too!

Directions: Drive north on Soldier Creek Road and follow it when it turns into NF-94. From there, stay on the road for several miles and veer left on Forest Road 227. After 5 miles, keep your eyes our for Big Smoky Road (Forest Road 084) and Canyon Transfer Camp, and follow it to the end parking lot. Stop by the Smoky Bar Store for any last-minute items!

There is a pit toilet and water spigot here!

The Hike to Skillern Hot Springs

There are two ways to reach Skillern Hot Springs, but it starts out as just one single trail.

The trail is clear and well-marked (despite being in such a remote area of the Sawtooth National Forest!), and follows the river through some gorgeous mountain scenery of sagebrush, flowering meadows, and deciduous trees.

After about 2 miles, you’ll come to a fork in the road to choose between the “High Trail” and the “Low Trail.” Which one you choose is really determined by the river levels!

Trail Note: This trail is mixed use, meaning it’s possible to see everything from bikes to horses!

Horses on the Little Smoky Creek Trail System in the Sawtooth National Forest

The High Trail (no shade) takes a little more effort, with some varying elevation gain (586 feet) and staying high above the river.

The Low Trail (has shade) crosses the river 3-4 times, so you’ll have to wear good water shoes and be comfortable with the depth and speed of the river.

After about a 1 mile on your chose trail, Skillern Hot Springs will become visible! It might be a little tricky to spot at first, but look for signs of steam, or hot water dripping down large boulders.

The rocks are often colored in reds and oranges (which are mineral deposits from the water) and below that you’ll see pools.

There are a few lukewarm pools that have been built up over time, but the main one is just around the other side of a large boulder. It can fit probably 4 people comfortably.

Best Time To Visit Skillern Hot Springs

Best Time to Visit Skillern Hot Springs

The best time to visit Skillern Hot Springs is during the summer and fall! In fact, it’s the ONLY time you can visit, because once the road is covered with snow, the pools are inaccessible for the season.

The ideal dates to visit are from late July through fall, until the road finally closes from snow for the season.

Camping Near Skillern: There are several primitive spots to camp near the springs. However, keep in mind you must always camp at least 200 feet from any water source!

Packing For a Hot Springs Tril

What to Pack For a Hot Spring Soak

In order to have the best experience possible, it’s important to pack the right things for this primitive soaking location.

Some specific things to note are to not forget SPF, because a lot of the trail is exposed to the sun.

It’s also important to wear long pants if possible, because snakes have been spotted along the trail – watch your footing!

That’s why we made the ultimate hot springs packing list, so you don’t forget a single item! Read the blog post version here, or sign up for our email list and get your free download below!

Emily Mandagie at Skillern Hot Springs

Pool Descriptions at Skillern Hot Springs

The main pool at Skillern Hot Springs is a rock-walled, waterfall-fed pool that can fit about 4 adults. Are there people already there? Brush up on your { to learn how to enjoy these pools together!

The bottom consists of gravel and rock, and it was much cleaner and clearer than other hot springs we’ve visited.

If you come mid-season (summertime around July, early July) the seasonal river pools along Big Smoky Creek will appear too. These have silt bottoms are are much cooler in temperature than the main pool.

Read More: 11 Fun Facts About Natural Hot Springs That Will Surprise You!

Pools at Skillern Hot Springs - Small Riverside Pool

Things To Do Around the Sawtooth National Forest

So, what else is there to do around Skillern Hot Springs? The Sawtooth National Forest is teeming with hikes, camping, and exploring! Here is what we suggest you explore next:

Fairfied, ID: This is a great town if you’re needing services, food, or gas. The Wrangler in Fairfield is a great pit stop to grab a bite to eat!

Gooding, ID: Gooding is a town just south of Fairfield with a lot of history and cool things to do! Grab a bite to eat at Zeppe’s Pizza, or venture off into exploring Tea Kettle Caves or the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh.

Worswick Hot Springs: Located in the same part of the Sawtooth National Forest, Worswick Hot Springs is an excellent soaking spot, really close to Skillern. For another nearby soak, check out Pries Hot Springs – it’s small but reliable!

Have you visited Skillern Hot Springs? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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