Potosi Hot Spring

November 4th, 2008

Potosi Hot Springs

Quaint little bridge on way to PotosiOn Sunday I finally checked out Potosi Hot Spring. Being a hot spring enthusiast and hobbiest of sorts I had been meaning to go soak in Potosi for a long time. Potosi is a small undeveloped (”primitive”) pool near Pony, MT (the place where all that snow fell in early October). Actually, there was a small resort there as well but it closed last year, leaving just the little “Upper” hot springs pool on Forest Service land which I was headed for. My favorite kind of springs are undeveloped (”primitive”) ones and Montana only has a few of those (unlike, say, Idaho), and Potosi isn’t even all that far away from Bozeman, so I really had no excuse for taking this long to visit it and I was pumped to finally head out there!

Hiking through a little November snow to PotosiI set out with Kristin a little before lunch. It was a really uninspiring gray morning with a drizzling rain that didn’t let up all day, but you know, pretty much any weather except for a blistering heat-wave is good for hot springing. I’ve gone soaking on some pretty hot days, even so. I was concerned that since 60 inches of snow fell three weeks ago in the Tobacco Root mountains where Potosi is we would need skis, but such was not the case. In the bottom of the canyon where the Springs Relaxing in Upper Potosi Hot Springsare the warm weather and rain had diminished the snow so we only had to hike over a little. As per the directions I’d found online after a short hike from the Potosi Campground we came to the spring, protected from cows by a buck-rail fence. I thought I’d heard there were two pools, but only one was obvious. The pool was decently large and very clean and inviting so one was fine. :) Also, it was a nice medium-hot: warm enough, but not so hot a long soak will cook you alive. (It might be borderline in the winter though.) The closest thing I have to a complaint about the spring is it feels very exposed. You can see and hear the little road up the canyon from the pool and you hike right past a big house on the way to it. Not a big deal a guess. All in all, it’s a great little free and undeveloped spring just a couple of hours from Bozeman. I’ll take it!

For more info about Montana Hot Springs, check out Jeff Birkby’s guidebook: Touring Montana and Wyoming Hot Springs (Amazon.com link).

Next up in Montana hot spring touring: Renova Hot Springs!

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10 Responses to “Potosi Hot Spring”

  1. Hey, my friend and I are trying to plan a trip out to the hot springs at Potosi tonight, but have no clue how to find them! You said you found directions online, but all we’re finding are sites that make you buy a book or purchase directions. Can you email me at highwaywaltz@lycos.com when you get the chance and leave some directions to the site if youre able?

    thanks so much,


  2. I found directions initially in an online preview of Touring Montana and Wyoming Hot Springs, but here is my version of the directions:

    Just before you get to Pony (on the only big road TO Pony), turn left on to South Willow Creek Road. There should be a sign for Potosi Creek or something. Take this road through some farm fields and up a canyon about 8 miles to Potosi Creek Campground, which is on your left. Most of the road is narrow and rough (dirt). You will pass the old Potosi Resort on your right. Park at the campground, cross the creek and find the trail that heads back down the valley. You have to go through a gate I think. It’s really the only trail there so it’s easy to find. Take this trail about a mile, and you’ll see the fenced off hot spring below you on your left. You can’t miss it!


  3. I was just wondering how big these hot springs are? We are coming to Montana this coming week and I want to visit Potosi Hot Springs. Will it be large enough for 5 people to swim in?

  4. Yeah… you could get 5 people in the spring. I don’t remember exactly how big it is, but it’s small. 10 would be pushing it, and 15 is right out.

    On that note, to use the word “swim” is a big stretch. Like, “I’m going for a swim in the bathtub” would be. :)

  5. Hello from UK! We’re 2 adults considering a 2 week trip, this Sept, for some gentle hiking to natural hot springs. We’ve never done anything like it before though! Is there anywhere you would kindly recommend that is not full of tourists/really busy, with lovely scenery, easy/moderate hiking and large warm/hot springs for some first-timers please? It would also be great to be able to swim somewhere safe/quiet too, as I am a beginner swimmer. Finally, we are not rich, so any accomm. tips would be fab too please! Sorry if this is a big request! Any advice will be very much appreciated. Many thanks. Kindest regards. Jacqueline

  6. @Jacqueline

    wow! such a detailed request! :P
    I have to warn you that while Montana has nice hot springs, if hot springs are really the focus of your trip head to the Sawtooths in Idaho. learn more here: http://www.idahohotsprings.com/

    That said, let me make a few points about Southwest Montana hot springs:
    * there are really only three primitive springs near Bozeman: Potosi, Renova, and the Boiling River. just three. :(
    * we have great developed hot springs though - Chico, Bozeman, and Norris (my favorite)
    * all of the primitive springs are small. no large pools. none deeper than a couple feet. no swimming needed!
    * all the “hikes” are under a mile. there are no backcountry ones near Bozeman.
    * if you really want to save money, Bozeman does have a Backpackers Hostel. otherwise, there’s camping and the usual hotels/motels.

    Cheers, and enjoy your trip!

  7. Does anyone know anything about a second hotspring I found in the 70’s, mistaking it for Potosi? It was maybe 5-8 miles downstream, up a side canyon about a mile, and had a complete roofed bath house and large tub you could plug and wait for it to fill. The second time I tried to go there someone had built a luxary home across the side canyon and blocked off the easy access.

  8. @Steve - I’m not sure, but you may be thinking of the “Lower” hot springs, which was turned in to a resort and is now a private residence? (http://fayranches.com/property/potosi-hot-springs-resort-spa). It’s a ways downstream like you describe, but I don’t think it’s really “up a side canyon”. Maybe there is a 3rd spring??

  9. I was told last night by someone who spent their childhood in the area, when the hippy era came about, so many people came, nudity became an issue along with other things that a local dynamite the one spring. That is the reason there is only one left today.

  10. im planning a trip to potosi hotsprings. it is currently two weeks into december. are you able to make it up the road to Potosi and is the springs still warm enough in single digit weather?

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