If you visit Yellowstone National Park and are curious about experiencing hot springs in a unique way, be sure you don’t miss the „Boiling River”.
This is one area you won’t find on your park map. It’s one of the worst-kept secrets of Yellowstone National Park. This is definitely a family favorite and it lies in a very beautiful part of the park.
What is the Boiling River?
This special place is maintained by the Park Service but not listed on official Yellowstone National Park maps or marked with road signs. Its popularity has led to some destruction of the surrounding vegetation, as well as rocks, so probably the Park Service intentionally tries not to over-market the area to visitors.
It’s explained on the National Park Service official website:
”Mammoth Area Natural Highlights,” in the section titled „45th Parallel Bridge and Boiling River.”
The extremely hot water from the Boiling River flows continuously into the cold water of the Gardner River. The combination of hot and cold allows you to find the spot that is the perfect temperature range for you.
Where is the Boiling River?
It’s located along the Montana/Wyoming border near Mammoth Hot Springs. Look for the 45th Parallel sign and the turnout for the Boiling River Trail.
Be sure to stop by the ranger’s station in order to see whether or not the swimming area is open. If it is, access hours are between 05:00-21:00. The area is closed overnight due to thermal and animal activity.
Alcoholic beverages are not allowed. You’re only allowed in the water where the Gardner River meets the Boiling River. Stay out of the Boiling River itself. Also, the area will probably be closed in high water seasons.
Don’t forget your swimsuit. Skinny-dipping is against the rules.
This particular place can be very popular, so don’t be surprised to be sharing the waters with dozens of other people.
If you’re lucky enough to get to the Boiling River on a less crowded day, you’ll enjoy the solitude of lying in the river, surrounded by the Gardner Canyon and with an amazing panorama of southern Montana mountains to the north.
Swimming in Boiling River is a swim at your own risk since there are no lifeguards on duty.