Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs in Stanley Idaho

Tucked away in the breathtaking wilderness of Idaho, Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs is a mystical oasis that whispers the secrets of relaxation and rejuvenation.

Imagine steamy waters dancing like a delicate veil in the crisp mountain air, as a symphony of bubbling springs serenades you into a state of tranquility. Here, nestled amidst the towering pines, the hot springs offer a warm embrace for weary souls.

Boat Box Elkhorn Hot Spring
Boat Box Hot Springs - Elkhorn Hot Springs Samuel Tintinger

Stanley, Idaho, a picturesque town cradled by the Sawtooth Mountains, serves as the gateway to the enchanting Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs. This serene sanctuary beckons nature lovers from far and wide, boasting a treasure trove of outdoor adventures that invigorate the senses and leave the spirit soaring.

What is Boat Box Hot Springs?

The allure of Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs is undeniable, as it paints a picture of nature’s artistry at its finest. The hot springs’ shimmering, steam-kissed waters reflect the radiant hues of the sky, while the lush alpine scenery forms a breathtaking backdrop.

Snow-capped peaks stand guard over this hidden gem, as verdant forests bow in reverence to the healing powers of the steaming springs.

Salmon River Walking
Natural hot springs in Stanley Idaho Andrew Silver

Adding a touch of whimsy to this magical setting, the hot springs are cradled within the timeworn hull of an old boat, as if carried here by the hands of the river gods themselves.

This unique feature lends an air of intrigue to the experience, as visitors are transported to a world where time stands still, and the restorative waters weave their spell of rejuvenation.

Tips to enhance the experience

Elkhorn Hot Spring has long been a cherished destination for both locals and travelers seeking respite in nature.

In the summer, it’s the perfect spot to unwind after a day spent hiking or fishing in the nearby mountains, while in the winter, you can nestle in its cozy embrace, surrounded by snow, and marvel at the breathtaking views of the river and mountains. This tranquil haven can be enjoyed year-round.

To make your visit to Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs truly memorable, consider these insider tips:

  • Arrive early or visit during weekdays to avoid crowds and enjoy a more serene experience.
  • There are no restroom facilities at the hot springs, so plan accordingly.
  • Pack a lightweight towel, swimsuit, and a pair of water shoes for a comfortable soak.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle and snacks for sustenance, but remember to pack out all trash to keep the area pristine.
  • In colder months, don’t forget warm layers and extra clothes to change into after your soak.
  • To get down to the pool, you have to walk over the rocks. Non-slip shoes or sandals will prevent you from falling and injuring yourself.
  • Lastly, be prepared to share the hot springs with other visitors, as the space within the boat is limited. Consider taking turns or finding a spot nearby in the river to soak if the boat is occupied.
Salmon River Stanley
Salmon River
  • The task of filling and emptying the pool is in your hands. If you find the water unclean, you’re free to drain the pool and refill it, which takes approximately 20 minutes. By adjusting a white pipe, you can divert the hot water flowing into the river and fill the pool. With the right angle, you’ll have a comfortable soak in no time.
  • If the water’s too hot for your liking, you can attempt to balance the temperature by adding icy cold river water to the pool using a bucket. However, don’t aim for lukewarm; a slightly warmer temperature will make for a more enjoyable experience.
  • Given that the process of filling and emptying the pool takes time, it’s wise to visit when the area is less crowded and more peaceful. Early weekdays are ideal for experiencing fewer visitors and savoring the serene atmosphere of Elkhorn Hot Spring.

Best times to visit

The best times to visit Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs are during the late spring, summer, and early fall months. During these seasons, the weather is milder, the roads are more accessible, and the surrounding landscape is bursting with vibrant colors.

Winter visits are possible, but keep in mind that the Forest Road may not be accessible due to snow, and the trek to the hot springs can be challenging in cold and icy conditions.

Dining options in Stanley

While visiting Stanley and exploring the captivating Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs, take time to savor the local flavors and rest your head in comfort. For a taste of Stanley’s culinary delights, consider these dining establishments:

  • Stanley Baking Company: Indulge in delicious breakfasts, homemade pastries, and fresh sandwiches at this cozy café. Their huckleberry pancakes are legendary!
  • Papa Brunee’s: Treat yourself to a hearty pizza or calzone after a day of outdoor adventures. Their mouth-watering creations will leave you craving more.
  • The Kasino Club: A local favorite, this rustic bar and grill offers scrumptious American fare with generous portions. Enjoy a juicy burger or a tender steak alongside live music and friendly vibes.

Campgrounds near Boat Box Hot Springs

For lodging options, consider one of these campgrounds, each offering its unique charm and proximity.

  • Sunny Gulch Campground: Located 8 miles south of Stanley along Highway 75, this campground is roughly a 15-minute drive from the hot springs. It features potable water, restrooms, and fire rings.
  • Salmon River Campground: Approximately 5 miles north of Stanley on Highway 75, this riverside campground is around a 10-minute drive from the hot springs. Facilities include drinking water, restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings.
  • Casino Creek Campground: Situated 6 miles south of Stanley on Highway 75, this campground is about a 12-minute drive from the hot springs. Amenities include potable water, restrooms, and fire rings.
  • Riverside Campground: Located 10 miles north of Stanley along Highway 75, this campground is approximately a 15-minute drive from the hot springs. It offers drinking water, restrooms, and fire rings.
  • Mormon Bend Campground: Positioned 12 miles north of Stanley on Highway 21, this campground is roughly a 20-minute drive from the hot springs. Facilities include potable water, restrooms, and fire rings.

How to get to Boat Box Hot Springs?

To embark on your journey to Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs, begin in the charming town of Stanley, Idaho. From there, head northwest on Highway 21 for approximately 4 miles until you reach Forest Road 653 (also known as Elkhorn Creek Road).

Take a right onto this gravel road, and follow it for about 0.5 miles. Keep an eye out for a small, unmarked parking area on the left side of the road. Park your vehicle and follow the path along the riverside for a short 5-minute walk, and you’ll arrive at the Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs.

Boat Box Hot Springs coordinates

The coordinates of Boat Box Hot Springs are 44°14’41.22″ N 114°53’09.72″ W. You can reach this pool by following the coordinates. It is located on the banks of the Salmon River. You can see Boat Box Hot Springs map below.

Where to stay in Boat Box Hot Springs?

If you want to stay in the area and benefit from other facilities in the area, you can stay close to Boat box hot springs. There are tent and hotel facilities.

Sunny Gulch Campground Idaho Stanley
Michael Hudak
Stanley Campgrounds For Rv
Lorrie Kalmbach Ehlers

However, as Stanley is a very small town, there are few options, so make your reservation in advance in case you cannot find a place during high demand periods.

Campgrounds near Boat Box Hot Springs

There are several campsites in Stanley. You have the choice of tent or caravan camping. Depending on what you expect, you can choose one of them if you want to stay in such places.

  1. Sunny Gulch Campground, A preferable campground in Stanley. It is very close to the river. However, the river is not within sight. Suitable for both tents and caravans. Each campground has a picnic table. There are no services such as electricity and water. 4.4 miles south of Stanley.
  2. Salmon River Campground is 5 miles from Stanley and 1.2 miles from the hot tub. Salmon River Campground is another RV campground right next to the highway.
  3. If you want to be a bit further from the road, there is another campground nearby called Casino Creek Campground. This campground is on the opposite side of the river and a bit far from the road.
  4. A little further north are Riverside Campground and Mormon Bend Campground. You can also take a look at these if you wish.
Mountain Village Resort Stanley
Mountain Village Resort in Stanley

Hot springs near Stanley

There are several other hot springs near Stanley, such as Kirkham Hot Springs, Pine Flats Hot Springs, and Mountain Village Resort Hot Springs. Each offers a distinct experience, ranging from secluded wilderness retreats to resort-style relaxation.


In conclusion, Elkhorn Boat Box Hot Springs is a hidden gem that promises a rejuvenating experience amidst the breathtaking beauty of Idaho’s wilderness. Coupled with the charming town of Stanley and its wealth of outdoor adventures, a visit to this enchanting destination promises memories that will last a lifetime.