(This marker is composed of series of photographs and their captions.)
Good for what ails you!
Idaho's hot springs have drawn people to them for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Long before indoor plumbing and hot water heaters, bubbling hot springs provided places to bathe and rejuvenate tired muscles. What could have felt better after a hard day hunting buffalo, a freezing day checking a trap line, or a long dusty day's work on the farm? A soak in these natural hot tubs provided rest, relaxation and even spiritual renewal.
Poha-Ba: medicine water
(photo: top center)
Native Americans from many tribes frequented this area for centuries before Euro-Americans arrived. They fished the streams, hunted wildlife, and enjoyed the natural hot springs.
Shoshone-Bannock Indians refer to the hot springs as "Poha-Ba" or "medicine water." They sought healing and spiritual renewal from the springs. Minerals and lava rocks found around the thermal pools are still used for ceremonial purposes.
(photo: center, 2nd from top)
The early hot pools were not much more than shallow mud puddles. Bathers lay in the mud, and the waters trickled over them.
When these pools were deepened, the forerunners of the present pools were called "Dempsey's Bathtub."
Pool rules and etiquette
(photo: center, 2nd from bottom)
In the early years, men and women took one-hour turns using a single pool. Men bathed in the nude while women wore bathing suits. (Bath house sign: Splashing and Rowdyism strictly prohibited! Any party or parties found guilty of same will be prosecuted.)
Modernizing the springs
(photo: center, bottom)
By the late 1920s facilities in Lava Hot Springs included an enclosed natatorium, an open-air pool with a high diving tower, a sanitarium with two pools, for men and women, and a mud bath. The city's Spa Mineral Plunge (left) was a popular pool..
It's no wonder Lava Hot Springs is still a hot destination after all these years!
Although the science about the healing properties of these mineral-laden waters is a little turkey, few dispute the fact that you feel better after a soak in the hot pools!
A grand geological gift
50 million years of hot water
(side-bar on right)
The Lava Hot Springs area contains several hot springs. They occur along a north-sour
fault southwest of town, and an east-west fault which follows the Portneuf River canyon.
Hot springs are produced by a very slow circulation of rain water to depths of 8,000-10,000 feet. Here, molten rock or other subterranean geologic activity heats the water in underground reservoirs.
Bubbling to the surface, the warm waters keep a constant temperature of 102º-112º Fahrenheit (39º-44º Celsius). Lava Hot Springs water contains over 16 different minerals.
The springs here are odorless (thanks to a lack of sulphur), colorless and constantly flowing as they have been for 50 million years. Nearly 3 million gallons of fresh water pass through the pools daily and into the Portneuf River.