O/B Hit List: Soak in the Boiling River

And every other hot spring around. But definitely Boiling River.

After a long day outside, nothing feels better than soaking your weary bones in a hot spring. Except this: soaking those same bones in an outdoor, all-natural hot spring, in the wintertime, along a rushing stream, in Yellowstone Park. Throw in some falling snow, maybe a few elk or bison grazing on the far bank, and you might as well be in Heaven, friend.

We're darn lucky to live where we do—at least a dozen hot springs lie scattered around southwest Montana, both developed and undeveloped. Each one is fantastic, especially this time of year, when the warm water takes the edge off winter's chill, and the hot-cold contrast both relaxes and invigorates. So this winter, avail yourself of this Bozeman-area benefit—including the creme de la creme, Boiling River.

Boiling River Outside Bozeman

Who: Anyone who seeks a relaxing soak in therapeutic waters, and a fun, unique winter outing. That means you. Go alone or with a friend. Go with your spouse, paramour, or first date. And go with the family—the kids will love it.

What: An enormous soaking area, ranging from 50 degrees all the way up to a sizzling 120, created by steamy water pouring into the otherwise-frigid Gardner River. It's a short, flat walk from the parking area, so you can squeeze in a soak before or after other activities.

Outside Bozeman Boiling River

When: Any cold winter day. The Boiling River's no secret, so weekends can get a little busy. If it's solitude you seek, go early on a weekday. 

Where: Just south of Gardiner, a few miles past the Park boundary. Which means a warm meal is just a few minutes away.

Why: The rushing waters of the river, the pristine Yellowstone wilderness, the immense clouds of steam rising into the frigid air—all these factors converge for an Arcadian escape from the stresses of life. You'll feel your muscles loosen, the tension from a long day’s hike or cross-country ski dissolving into the steamy, soothing water. Lean back, rest your head on a curved rock, and let everything just fade away.

Outside Bozeman Hot Spring Boiling River

And there's no need to stop there. Make it a double-whammy and hit a developed hot spring on the way back. Either way, soaking in the Boiling River is on our Winter Hit List.