Thursday, February 18, 2016

Go visit Miracle or Banbury Hot Springs near Hagerman, go hiking, sight-seeing on the way

Launching into the pool at Banbury Hot Springs
Big pool at Banbury is good for large groups and Scout groups 
Newly remodeled, Miracle Hot Springs has a really nice aesthetic ambiance 
Large pool at Miracle Hot Springs; Private rooms border the main pools outside.
Covered pool at Miracle is kept between 105-106 degrees 
Hi all,

There's nothing quite like immersing yourself in a natural hot springs and feeling the water cleanse your body and soul. Precious geothermal hot water -- heated naturally deep inside Mother Earth -- penetrates your pores and clears your head of all worries.

Just lie there, float freely and weightlessly in the steam-covered pool, and enjoy. It doesn't matter if it's snowing or raining, the hot water keeps you comfy and warm. Now that we're moving into early spring, it's prime time season for hot springs! Pack up your swimsuit, a towel and flip flops, and take some friends or family on a road trip!

If you like Gold Fork Hot Springs in Donnelly, you'll love Miracle Hot Springs -- the closest natural hot springs resort to Boise, near Hagerman.
Side pool at Miracle Hot Springs. 
Miracle was remodeled in 2012, and it turned out really nice - it has a ruggedly handsome design and ambiance, creating a very inviting and comfortable feeling for soakers and swimmers.

Miracle is an easy drive about 1.5 hours from Boise via I-84. Go east on I-84 to the Hagerman exit (exit #141). It's located about 15-20 minutes from the freeway. Take U.S. 30, the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway, to Miracle Hot Springs, located on the right side of the road next to Salmon Falls Creek. 

They have camping available on-site, or across the highway at Banbury Hot Springs. There's also some camp domes available for overnight accommodations, with prices ranging from $69 to $94/night, depending on how much room you need. Call ahead to make reservations if you want to stay overnight. Those domes are in high demand on weekends. 

Along the way, you could stop at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument or the Hagerman Museum to learn about the Hagerman horse and many other fascinating animals that lived in the area as long as 3.5 million years ago in more of a swampy grassland environment that existed in that era. 

Or, there are several state and national fish hatcheries you can visit, or stop at Thousand Springs State Park, visit Minnie Miller Springs and go for a hike on Ritter Island next to the Snake River. It's an easy, scenic hike that I highly recommend. Minnie Miller springs is one of the few springs in the Thousand Springs complex that hasn't been harnessed for hydropower or fish production.

A visitor once asked Dean Olsen about the name, Miracle Hot Springs. "The water contains over 50 minerals, which can be therapeutic and might make you feel much better," Olsen said. "This is our miracle -- the water."

When I visited Miracle Hot Springs, I spoke with three 40ish moms from Castleford, decked out in one-piece swimsuits, glittery sunglasses and hats, who were soaking in one of the side pools, kept in the 102-103 degree range. How's the water?

"Wonderful!" "Perfect!" "Lovely!"

The women come to Miracle as often as possible. "This is a great place all year round, and it's close to home. I love it," said Mickey Dekryf.

"You soak and it makes me feel great," adds Lori Hale, moving her shoulders around to loosen them up.

Miracle also has a 15 private hot pools enclosed in tasteful private rooms with a changing area and bath pool. It has 6 VIP private hot pools, which can be reserved in advance. The other private pools are first-come, first-served. Hot and cold water feeds allow guests to control the water temperature to their liking. 

Miracle has spa services as well. "You come here and it's like a vacation in one visit," says Jane Olsen, massage manager. They have a massage therapist on duty at all times; advance reservations are recommended. Call 208-543-6002 to make a reservation. 

Banbury Hot Springs, a property recently acquired by the Olsen family, is located across the highway from Miracle. Banbury has a large pool kept at about 100 degrees with a diving board and a large log to hang onto or plan on for kids. It also has private bathing rooms. The Olsens plan to do a full remodel of Banbury starting this fall. But the large pool is a good option for large groups and scout groups. 

The grassy camping and picnic areas at Banbury are really nice, located under a canopy of old cottonwood trees. Bald eagles often perch on the cottonwoods next to the Snake River during the winter. "Sometimes there are 15-20 eagles in one tree," says Enoch Olsen, co-owner. 

There's a free boat launch location at Banbury, which opens up opportunities to go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, canoeing or kayaking on the Snake. One trip I'm planning to do when the weather warms up a bit is to launch at Banbury and go visit Box Canyon State Park, just 1.5 miles downriver. You can explore Box Canyon, the 11th largest natural spring in the United States, by foot on some hiking trails. Unique fish species live in the water because of its pure water and constant temperature 

There is not much current in this section of the Snake, allowing folks to paddle back upstream to the launch without much trouble. 

The other thing you have to do on this trip is stop at the Snake River Grill in Hagerman and have a hearty meal. They have sturgeon, catfish, alligator and many other exotic items on their menu. Highly recommend it! 

Enjoy your trip! 
- SS 

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