Boiling River Professional Reviews and Guides
"Yellowstone National Park’s most popular soaking area. A 6-footwide stream of hot water plunges over travertine rocks into a 50-yard-long band of thermal soaking pools along the Gardner River."
--Jeff Birkby, Touring Hot Springs - Montana and Wyoming (Falcon Guides).
"Formerly a local hot tub for park employees, the Boiling River is now one of the most popular hiking trails—and swimming holes—for park visitors."
--Bill Schneider, Hiking Yellowstone National Park (Falcon Guides).
"Yellowstone National Park’s most popular soaking area. A 6-foot-wide stream of hot water plunges over travertine rocks into a 50-yard-long band of thermal soaking pools along the Gardner River. The largest discharge of thermal water in Yellowstone, Boiling River is also the park’s most popular soaking location, at times accommodating 150 people in the warm water.
The attractiveness of this soak is no doubt attributable to its easy access from the North Entrance Road, its beautiful location, and the awesome soaking opportunities. Geologists suspect that the Boiling River’s 100-yard channel of 140-degree-F hot water is the underground flow from Mammoth Hot Springs, some 2 miles to the south. The 6-foot-wide stream pours over travertine ledges into the swift-flowing Gardner River, where it mixes with cold river water. The water level in the Gardner River determines the temperature of your soak. You may encounter a blast of hot water on your back, while at the same time your toes are shivering in the icy river water, but most bathers eventually find just the right spot for their thermal tastes. Primitive."
--Jeff Birkby, Touring Montana and Wyoming Hot Springs (Falcon Guides).
"Yellowstone’s premier frontcountry soak is a dynamic series of five-star hot pots formed by the confluence of an icy river and an impressive thermal stream. It’s fun for the entire family and, as one of few remaining places to legally soak in the US National Parks, it’s definitely not to be missed."
--Andrew Dean Nystrom, Top Trails Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks (Wilderness Press).
This swimming hole is reached by a 15 min walk, is kinda handicap accessible...wide trail. There are two parking lots located right at the 45th parallel, which you use to reach the swimming hole from. There is a single vault toilet at the trail head. If the parking lots look full, then you know that there are already too many people down there for you to really be able to enjoy it. Best times to go are meal times, or really early, or late, or off seasons like fall and winter (water too high & often closed in spring.) Hours are posted as to when it is open or closed, and a Ranger will check in to make sure you abide by the rules. It is HIGHLY recommended you have water shoes. There are a few rocky patches to walk over, and swift enough currents getting in that you could easily loose flip flops. If you move rocks around, you should do so in a way to cause the water flow to back up. Do NOT try to build rock walls to keep water out, this has caused severe water channeling and has created swift currents in the wading area where there were none before. The water used to mix better (river and hotspring) but the channeling has made it so that much is either blistering hot or freezing cold. But it is still alot of fun, and the small waterfalls are pretty.
A true hot springs gem! Easy access, family friendly and most importantly CLEAN. Get's very crowded in the summer, but there's always plenty of room. Best time to go: in the dead of winter! I go all the time, but avoid Ystone in the summer all together!
This is a great relaxing short hike. It's .5 miles to the spring that feeds in to Gardner River. We were lucky while relaxing in the river a herd of elf crossed the river about 20 feet from us and grazed on the other side. This show lasted about an hour. This is a great place to chill after a long hike.
I will concede that we were there at the height of the season but...as much fun as it is to experience the natural "boil" of the river this trail is simply a path leading to the approved site for such a soaking. Perhaps it is because we pride ourselves in staying away from the masses that we were very disappointed. There is western beauty to be enjoyed, we just had a hard time seeing it through the crowds!
This trail was great for a first major hike. We enjoyed the first night at 1R1 which was nice but not as sheltered as I had imagined. The second night we stayed at 1Y1 which was an amazing campsite with an area to lounge in the shade and a nice sand beach to swim. The water was COLD.
The backcountry office failed to inform our group of a bridge out 1-1.5 miles from the trail end. We were forced to climb down a moderately rocky cliff and then cross a swiftly moving stream. We reported the trail conditions back to the office after arriving back and they realized they had neglected to tell us the exiting trail head had been closed.
Besides a close encounter with some coyotes at our first camp we saw no other wildlife. We made plenty of noise along the trail to try to avoid any unwanted encounters.
Overall it was a great experience and very scenic.
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