Boiling River Image

Hours: daylight only

Two miles south of the Gardiner park entrance of Yellowstone National Park, take the turnout at the Montana-Wyoming border, for a hot springs experience you won’t forget.

To get to the hot spring, you must face the ultimate test: a wade through the Gardner River. The freezing river flows from snow melt and spring runoff, at temperatures barely above freezing. Breath-taking, soul-sucking, extraordinarily cold.

But waiting for you within the river are the warm, geothermic currents of Hades’ water heater. The two stark temperatures mix together in an eddy, creating marvelous bathing conditions.

So though you can’t take a dip in Yellowstone National Park’s bubbling natural hot tubs and jacuzzis, here you can enjoy the same hot water seeping out of the rocks, and into the frigid river. Bison and magpies can be heard nearby, and the view of the Gallatin and Absaroka Mountains is majestic.

And, because of that almost unbearable trek to the heat, the Boiling River is almost always all to yourself.

Take note: the Boiling River is closed in the springtime due to hazardous high water and reopens around early- to mid-summer. And swimsuits are required.

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