Lava Hot Springs

Lava Hot Springs and the Portneuf River was deeded to the state of Idaho in 1902 to provide a health and recreation facility. The foundation is an agency that acts within the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.The springs are often referred to as “the healing waters,” because many people believe the springs have curative properties. It is rumored that long ago the springs were neutral ground and shared in peace by all.The springs and land were part of a treaty between local Native Americans and the federal government in the late 1800s. The government purchased the springs and land, amounting to approximately 178 acres.

Lava Hot Springs’ history worth mentioning too

It’s a shame that Michele Bigley (“Spontaneity Can Be So Much Fun,” July 5) didn’t expand her enjoyment of Lava Hot Springs to take the opportunity to relate a history lesson to her children. The Idaho section of the Oregon Trail runs right through Lava Hot Springs and was noted in several pioneer journals. What an opportunity missed to teach some American history: Bigley mentioned the fun of the hot pools but not the history that surrounds them.

I find the notion that fliers will become less loyal if they are allowed to mix miles and cash to be counterintuitive and hypocritical [“Can Miles and Cash Mix?” by Catharine Hamm, July 5]. As a frequent business flier, my husband has flown Delta for 25 years — that is loyalty.

However, recent decisions have reduced mileage earnings and have made it difficult to redeem miles, and the costs are so high that his company often won’t let him fly Delta. This does not inspire loyalty, but the mix of cash and miles may.

If the airline truly wants loyalty from the business traveler it courts, it would make more mileage seats available at reasonable levels and pull back on some of its decisions that make it difficult to earn miles. Instead, the carrier promotes loyalty by saying that a particular point level gets a flier a free checked bag, something that until recently was free. Its position is both illogical and hypocritical.

Hamm hit the nail on the head. Airline loyalty should work both ways.

As a tour operator, I’ve been booking my groups on Delta or other SkyTeam alliance airlines so we can accrue as many SkyMiles as possible in one program.

Since Delta changed to miles based on ticket price and SkyMiles status, miles earned have been reduced.

I began booking my ticket separately to try to keep my Gold status.

I’ve flown 48,488 miles on trips to Dubai, Kenya and Iceland this year, yet received credit for only 17,918 miles (37%) based on a combined economy ticket cost of $5,078. Dollars spent and miles credited to attain the next level keep increasing credit for actual miles-flown miles keeps decreasing.

When I complained to customer service about these changes, their response was, “We’re making our program more exclusive.”

Delta feels no loyalty to me, so why should I be loyal to it?

Pardon me. But at the risk of sounding glib, I’m somewhat puzzled by the June 28 letter writer who said she was so upset by a spa experience that she wouldn’t stay at a certain hotel henceforth.

Yet she admitted that she’d stayed there “the last 20 years”? Go figure.

Were I a hotel property owner with an on-site spa, I would love to have a customer like this writer who was loyal to me for (count ‘em) 19 years out of 20, before her sudden defection and public outburst.

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According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.71 square miles (1.84 km 2 ), of which, 0.68 square miles (1.76 km 2 ) is land and 0.03 square miles (0.08 km 2 ) is water. [5]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1930544 −17.8%
1940647 18.9%
1950591 −8.7%
1960593 0.3%
1970516 −13.0%
1980467 −9.5%
1990420 −10.1%
2000521 24.0%
2010407 −21.9%
2019 (est.)432 [3] 6.1%
U.S. Decennial Census [6]

2010 census Edit

At the 2010 census there were 407 people in 209 households, including 104 families, in the city. The population density was 598.5 inhabitants per square mile (231.1/km 2 ). There were 317 housing units at an average density of 466.2 per square mile (180.0/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 97.5% White, 0.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.2%. [2]

Of the 209 households 16.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 1.4% had a male householder with no wife present, and 50.2% were non-families. 44.5% of households were one person and 20.6% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 1.95 and the average family size was 2.74.

The median age was 50.9 years. 16.7% of residents were under the age of 18 6.2% were between the ages of 18 and 24 19.2% were from 25 to 44 31.4% were from 45 to 64 and 26.5% were 65 or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.2% male and 51.8% female.

2000 census Edit

At the 2000 census there were 521 people in 232 households, including 125 families, in the city. The population density was 730.7 people per square mile (283.3/km 2 ). There were 309 housing units at an average density of 433.4 per square mile (168.0/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 96.93% White, 1.15% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 1.34% from other races, and 0.38% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.30%. [7]

Of the 232 households 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.8% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.7% were non-families. 39.7% of households were one person and 19.0% were one person aged 65 or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 3.06.

The age distribution was 27.4% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 18.8% 65 or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.9 males.

The median household income was $23,472 and the median family income was $38,750. Males had a median income of $38,125 versus $20,313 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,242. About 16.7% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.6% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.

Lava Hot Springs - History

Hudspeth Cutoff
The Hudspeth Cutoff, after climbing high over the Portneuf Range south of the Portneuf River, wound down through Henderson Canyon and what is now the Lava Hot Springs golf course, to the river at a hill of Silurian dolomite known as Island Butte. The river formerly passed south of the Butte, but now flows only on the north side except in large floods. The dry channel can be seen from Highway 30. The Cutoff then headed up a small canyon south of the river and down into what became the rail station of Oneida and now is Arimo. From there it struck out west across Marsh Valley, crossing the Bannock Range south of Garden Creek Gap. Although this part of the Cutoff gained and lost considerable elevation, it was, at least, well-watered. The same cannot be said for the Cutoff west of the Bannock Range.

Mountain Man Bob Dempsey
Bob Dempsey, one of the last of the mountain men in southeastern Idaho,had a permanent camp west of Lava Hot Springs, where Dempsey Creek flows into the Portneuf. From 1851 to 1861, he trapped the mountains south of Lava, and effectively kept other trappers out. When the Hudson's Bay Company ceased operations in southeastern Idaho, Dempsey moved north to the Montana gold fields. Until 1915, the town of Lava Hot Springs was known as Dempsey, Idaho. top


The Family Pass is available on Wednesdays, excluding holidays. The Family Pass is available year round at the World Famous Hot Pools and from mid-May through early September at the Olympic Swimming Complex.

Included in the discount are up to four people, at least one of whom is the parent or guardian of those 18 and under. Each additional person in the family group can pay an additional fee. A total of ten people are allowed on the Family Pass including the additional persons. The parent or guardian must be responsible for the others in the family group at least for that day. A swim diaper is included for children under age 2.

Guardian for purposes of the Family Pass does not necessarily meet the requirements of Legal Guardian* required to sign the Diving Platform waiver.

Olympic Swimming Complex Family Pass … $24.50 for the first four family members

Each additional person (up to 6): $5.50
Available Wednesdays only, mid-May through Early September, excluding holidays

Idaho’s World Famous Hot Pools Family Pass… $18.50 for the first four family members
Each additional person (up to 6): $4.50
Available Wednesdays only, year round, excluding holidays

Combination Family Pass includes Swimming Pools and Hot Pools… $43.00 for the first four family members
Each additional person (up to 6): $10.00
Available Wednesdays only, year round, excluding holidays. Combination is a 1 time entry to Hot Pools and all day at Swimming Pool.

PLEASE NOTE: The Indoor Pool does not offer regular Wednesday and weekday open swim hours during the off-season. The Indoor Pool is only open on select Wednesdays October through May, typically for holiday and school breaks. For information about special holiday hours during the off-season, click HERE.

*Person signing for a minor to use the diving platforms must be the minor’s Legal Guardian as assigned by a Court of Law or the child’s parent.

Day 2: Island Park

Island Park, in the Targhee National Forest, was next up on our Idaho adventure.

We woke up early to ensure that we would make it on time to ride horses at Eagle Ridge Ranch in Island Park. We headed back to I-15 and drove north for two and a half hours.

Our eight-person group included four girls visiting from New York City, and two women from northern California. We all spent two hours talking and guiding our horses (or maybe more like our horses guiding us) through the forested grazing area on the ranch. We walked along some meandering streams, and even let our horses cross through a chest-deep pond.

Not wanting to leave, ever, Mike and I lingered behind after dismounting to feed the horses.

Johnny Sack Cabin and the Big Springs Campground

Johnny Sack was a German immigrant who leased land to build his cabin in Big Springs in 1929, then spent three years building the entire thing by hand. He lived in the cabin until his death in 1957, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and obtained by the U.S. Forest Service in 1979. Now visitors have the opportunity to admire his handiwork.

In addition to the beautiful cabin, visitors can also enjoy a walk around Big Springs, which is one of the 40 largest natural springs in the world.

We really liked how small and spaced out the campground was at Big Springs, so we took site number 6 and set up camp. We built a fire, made foil dinners and biscuits, then took a walk through some of the back roads behind the campground before calling it a night.


There is no universally accepted definition of a hot spring. For example, one can find the phrase hot spring defined as

  • any spring heated by geothermal activity [4]
  • a spring with water temperatures above its surroundings [5][6]
  • a natural spring with water temperature above human body temperature (normally about 37 °C (99 °F)) [7][8][9][10][11]
  • a natural spring of water whose temperature is greater than 21 °C (70 °F) [12][13][14][15]
  • a type of thermal spring whose water temperature is usually 6 to 8 °C (11 to 14 °F) or more above mean air temperature. [16]
  • a spring with water temperatures above 50 °C (122 °F) [17]

The related term "warm spring" is defined as a spring with water temperature less than a hot spring by many sources, although Pentecost et al. (2003) suggest that the phrase "warm spring" is not useful and should be avoided. [9] The US NOAA Geophysical Data Center defines a "warm spring" as a spring with water between 20 and 50 °C (68 and 122 °F).

Water issuing from a hot spring is heated geothermally, that is, with heat produced from the Earth's mantle. This takes place in two ways. In areas of high volcanic activity, magma (molten rock) may be present at shallow depths in the Earth's crust. Groundwater is heated by these shallow magma bodies and rises to the surface to emerge at a hot spring. However, even in areas that do not experience volcanic activity, the temperature of rocks within the earth increases with depth. The rate of temperature increase with depth is known as the geothermal gradient. If water percolates deeply enough into the crust, it will be heated as it comes into contact with hot rock. This generally takes place along faults, where shattered rock beds provide easy paths for water to circulate to greater depths. [18]

Much of the heat is created by decay of naturally radioactive elements. An estimated 45 to 90 percent of the heat escaping from the Earth originates from radioactive decay of elements mainly located in the mantle. [19] [20] [21] The major heat-producing isotopes in the Earth are potassium-40, uranium-238, uranium-235, and thorium-232. [22] In areas with no volcanic activity, this heat flows through the crust by a slow process of thermal conduction, but in volcanic areas, the heat is carried to the surface more rapidly by bodies of magma. [23]

A hot spring that periodically jets water and steam is called a geyser. In active volcanic zones such as Yellowstone National Park, magma may be present at shallow depths. If a hot spring is connected to a large natural cistern close to such a magma body, the magma may superheat the water in the cistern, raising its temperature above the normal boiling point. The water will not immediately boil, because the weight of the water column above the cistern pressurizes the cistern and suppresses boiling. However, as the superheated water expands, some of the water will emerge at the surface, reducing pressure in the cistern. This allows some of the water in the cistern to flash into steam, which forces more water out of the hot spring. This leads to a runaway condition in which a sizable amount of water and steam are forcibly ejected from the hot spring as the cistern is emptied. The cistern then refills with cooler water, and the cycle repeats. [24] [25]

Geysers require both a natural cistern and an abundant source of cooler water to refill the cistern after each eruption of the geyser. If the water supply is less abundant, so that the water is boiled as fast as it can accumulate and only reaches the surface in the form of steam, the result is a fumarole. If the water is mixed with mud and clay, the result is a mud pot. [24] [26]

An example of a non-volcanic warm spring is Warm Springs, Georgia (frequented for its therapeutic effects by paraplegic U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who built the Little White House there). Here the groundwater originates as rain and snow (meteoric water) falling on the nearby mountains, which penetrates a particular formation (Hollis Quartzite) to a depth of 3,000 feet (910 m) and is heated by the normal geothermal gradient. [27]

Because heated water can hold more dissolved solids than cold water, the water that issues from hot springs often has a very high mineral content, containing everything from calcium to lithium and even radium. [28] The overall chemistry of hot springs varies from alkaline chloride to acid sulfate to bicarbonate to iron-rich, each of which defines an end member of a range of possible hot spring chemistries. [29] [30]

Alkaline chloride hot springs are fed by hydrothermal fluids that form when groundwater containing dissolved chloride salts reacts with silicate rocks at high temperature. These springs have nearly neutral pH but are saturated with silica ( SiO
2 ). The solubility of silica depends strongly upon temperature, so upon cooling, the silica is deposited as geyserite, a form of opal (opal-A: SiO
2 ·nH
2 O ). [31] This process is slow enough that geyserite is not all deposited immediately around the vent, but tends to build up a low, broad platform around the spring opening. [32] [33] [34]

Acid sulfate hot springs are fed by hydrothermal fluids rich in hydrogen sulfide ( H
2 S ), which is oxidized to form sulfuric acid, H
2 SO
4 . [32] The pH of the fluids is thereby lowered to values as low as 0.8. [35] The acid reacts with rock to alter it to clay minerals, oxide minerals, and a residue of silica. [30]

Bicarbonate hot springs are fed by hydrothermal fluids that form when carbon dioxide ( CO
2 ) and groundwater react with carbonate rocks. [32] When the fluids reach the surface, CO
2 is rapidly lost and carbonate minerals precipitate as travertine, so that bicarbonate hot springs tend to form high-relief structures around their openings. [30]

Iron-rich springs are characterized by the presence of microbial communities that produce clumps of oxidized iron from iron in the hydrothermal fluids feeding the spring. [36] [30]

Some hot springs produce fluids that are intermediate in chemistry between these extremes. For example, mixed acid-sulfate-chloride hot springs are intermediate between acid sulfate and alkaline chloride springs and may form by mixing of acid sulfate and alkaline chloride fluids. They deposit geyserite, but in smaller quantities than alkaline chloride springs. [32]

Hot springs range in flow rate from the tiniest "seeps" to veritable rivers of hot water. Sometimes there is enough pressure that the water shoots upward in a geyser, or fountain.

High-flow hot springs Edit

There are many claims in the literature about the flow rates of hot springs. There are many more high flow non-thermal springs than geothermal springs. Springs with high flow rates include:

    The Dalhousie Springs complex in Australia had a peak total flow of more than 23,000 liters/second in 1915, giving the average spring in the complex an output of more than 325 liters/second. This has been reduced now to a peak total flow of 17,370 liters/second so the average spring has a peak output of about 250 liters/second. [37]

Hot springs often host communities of microorganisms adapted to life in hot, mineral-laden water. These include thermophiles, which are a type of extremophile that thrives at high temperatures, between 45 and 80 °C (113 and 176 °F). [40] Further from the vent, where the water has had time to cool and precipitate part of its mineral load, conditions favor organisms adapted to less extreme conditions. This produces a succession of microbial communities as one moves away from the vent, which in some respects resembles the successive stages in the evolution of early life. [41]

For example, in a bicarbonate hot spring, the community of organisms immediately around the vent is dominated by filamentous thermophilic bacteria, such as Aquifex and other Aquificales, that oxidize sulfide and hydrogen to obtain energy for their life processes. Further from the vent, where water temperatures have dropped below 60 °C (140 °F), the surface is covered with microbial mats 1 centimetre (0.39 in) thick that are dominated by cyanobacteria, such as Spirulina, Oscillatoria, and Synechococcus, [42] and green sulfur bacteria such as Chloroflexus. These organisms are all capable of photosynthesis, though green sulfur bacteria produce sulfur rather than oxygen during photosynthesis. Still further from the vent, where temperatures drop below 45 °C (113 °F), conditions are favorable for a complex community of microorganisms that includes Spirulina, Calothrix, diatoms and other single-celled eukaryotes, and grazing insects and protozoans. As temperatures drop close to those of the surroundings, higher plants appear. [41]

Alkali chloride hot springs show a similar succession of communities of organisms, with various thermophilic bacteria and archaea in the hottest parts of the vent. Acid sulfate hot springs show a somewhat different succession of microorganisms, dominated by acid-tolerant algae (such as members of Cyanidiophyceae), fungi, and diatoms. [32] Iron-rich hot springs contain communities of photosynthetic organisms that oxidize reduced (ferrous) iron to oxidized (ferric) iron. [43]

Hot springs are a dependable source of water that provides a rich chemical environment. This includes reduced chemical species that microorganisms can oxidize as a source of energy. In contrast with "black smokers" (hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor), hot springs produce fluids at less extreme temperatures, and they experience cycles of wetting and drying that promote formation of simple organic molecules. For these reasons, it has been hypothesized that hot springs may be the place of origin of life on Earth. [41] [30]

Hot springs have been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. [44] Even macaques, which are nonhuman primates, are known to have extended their northern range into Japan by making use of hot springs to protect themselves from cold stress. [45] Hot spring baths (onsen) have been in use in Japan for at least two thousand years, traditionally for cleanliness and relaxation, but increasingly for their therapeutic value. [46] In the Homeric Age of Greece (ca. 1000 BCE), baths were primarily for hygiene, but by the time of Hippocrates (ca. 460 BCE), hot springs were credited with healing power. The popularity of hot springs has fluctuated over the centuries since, but they are now popular around the world. [47]

Therapeutic uses Edit

Because of both the folklore and the claimed medical value attributed to some hot springs, they are often popular tourist destinations, and locations for rehabilitation clinics for those with disabilities. [48] [49] [50] However, the scientific basis for therapeutic bathing in hot springs is uncertain. Hot bath therapy for lead poisoning was common and reportedly highly successful in the 18th and 19th centuries, and may have been due to diuresis (increased production of urine) from sitting in hot water, which increased excretion of lead better food and isolation from lead sources and increased intake of calcium and iron. Significant improvement in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis have been observed in studies, but these suffer from methodological problems, such as the obvious impracticality of placebo-controlled studies (in which a patient does not know if he is receiving the therapy). As a result, the therapeutic effectiveness of hot spring therapy remains uncertain. [47]

Precautions Edit

Hot springs in volcanic areas are often at or near the boiling point. People have been seriously scalded and even killed by accidentally or intentionally entering these springs. [51] [52] [53]

Some hot springs microbiota are infectious to humans:

  • Naegleria fowleri, an excavateamoeba, lives in warm unsalted waters worldwide and causes a fatal meningitis should the organisms enter the nose. [54][55][56]
  • Acanthamoeba also can spread through hot springs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control - The organisms enter through the eyes or via an open wound. [57]
  • Legionellabacteria have been spread through hot springs. [58][59]

Etiquette Edit

The customs and practices observed differ depending on the hot spring. It is common practice that bathers should wash before entering the water so as not to contaminate the water (with/without soap). [60] In many countries, like Japan, it is required to enter the hot spring with no clothes on, including swimwear. Typically in these circumstances, there are different facilities or times for men and women. In some countries, if it is a public hot spring, swimwear is required.

There are hot springs in many places and on all continents of the world. Countries that are renowned for their hot springs include China, Costa Rica, Iceland, Iran, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru, Taiwan, Turkey, and the United States, but there are hot springs in many other places as well:

Lava Hot Springs - History

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Lava Hot Springs Idaho

For an experience like no other, renew, refresh and relax anytime of the year at Idaho’s most wonderful and unique recreational oasis! Lava Hot Springs is an all seasons resort located just eleven miles east of I-15 on U.S. Highway 30.

The Olympic Swimming Complex is the only facility of it’s kind in the Intermountain West. Two heated swimming pools cover nearly one-third acre of swimming space.
The free-form Olympic size pool has 50 meter racing lanes and a dizzying 10 meter diving tower overlooking 17 feet of clear, warm water. The second pool is an AAU size 25 yard pool. Four water slides and a splash pool heighten your fun, one is a half-tube, the other is full tube.

Lava’s year round favorite is our World Famous Hot Springs. Bubbling up from an ancient volcano, 2 1/2 million gallons of hot springs water swirls through our pools daily. Our odor free naturally filtered waters are ever-changing with no chlorine or sulfur. Our Hot Springs Complex features four outdoor pools at three different temperatures varying from 104° to 112° for personal enjoyment. There are also several hotels with hot pools in Lava. See our Hot Pool Tour.

We have an ideal setting for family reunions and company picnics. Well maintained gardens and shelters with grills are available with 17 additional acres of parks in Lava.

Jump in the river and go on a wild tube ride! Enjoy shopping and dining, then stay in one of our 200 Lodging rooms or 400 Camp Sites. Everywhere is a relaxing atmosphere to help you soak up water, sun and the mountain air. Golf, fishing, biking, snowmobiling and skiing are all available in or near Lava.

Since the town has a lot of history, naturally there is a museum on Main Street. Here you will find items and old pictures showing a very different town years ago. Come and see how the town has grown from a sage covered hill to the beautiful resort that it is today.

Lava Hot Springs Information
P.O. Box 669
Lava Hot Springs, Idaho 83246
(208) 776-5221 or (800) 423-8597

Stay at The Historic Riverside Inn & Spa

Our Hotel, Restaurant, Lounge, Hot Springs Spa and Cafe are Open!

Located in downtown Lava Hot Springs, Idaho , the Riverside Hot Springs Inn & Spa is a relaxing, full service adult-only boutique hotel, the Riverside Hot Springs Inn & Spa desitination is located next to the Portneuf River. Value added lodging savings include complimentary private hot mineral springs soaking and WiFi and a $10 voucher for breakfast at Cafe and A'more!

The Portnuef Grille & Lounge is open on a limited basis to hotel guests from 5-9pm. Please check with us for current dates of operation and availability. We will be closed on Monday, June 28th. Thank you for your understanding. For More Information: 208-776-5504

Cafe & A'more: Cafe & A'more is open from 7-11am offering coffee, tea, muffins, baked goods, juices, yogurt and fruit..

Watch the video: LARVA - HOT SPRINGS. Videos For Kids. LARVA Full Episodes. Videos For Kids (December 2021).