A Visitor’s Guide to Montana’s Wild Horse Hot Springs

Are you captivated by the idea of immersing yourself in mineral-rich waters amid the breathtaking wilderness of Montana? Discover the serene Wild Horse Hot Springs, nestled in the heart of the Pioneer Mountains, offering a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

This extraordinary spring, fueled by the legendary “Mother Dragon” geyser, promises a harmonious blend of tranquility and adventure. As someone who has been enchanted by the geothermal wonders of these springs, allow me to be your guide through the pristine beauty of Wild Horse and all it has to offer.

We’ll explore the top-tier amenities, accommodations, and pricing options, tailored to provide a rustic yet affordable experience. We’ll also chart out the various routes leading to this haven, and provide essential insights into the wildlife and safety considerations at Wild Horse Hot Springs.

Are you ready to embark on this enchanting journey? Let Wild Horse Hot Springs kindle within you the same passion it has ignited in countless travelers and locals alike.

7 Key Takeaways on Wild Horse Hot Springs

  1. Historical Charm – Wild Horse Hot Springs is more than a rest stop; it’s a living part of Montana history with the discovery of the “Mother Dragon” geyser and a more somber incident that shook the community.
  2. Nature’s Healing Touch – Brimming with mineral-rich waters, the Wild Horse Hot Springs is a therapeutic oasis in a lush setting, featuring various plunges and pools for every level of warmth.
  3. Rustic Wilderness Experience – The hot springs offer a rustic setting, allowing visitors to camp under the Montana night sky and embrace a primal connection with nature.
  4. Hours Of Operation – Open from Sunday to Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., the hot springs offer a range of pricing options, including discounts for locals and special instances such as birthdays and military service.
  5. Location and Directions – Situated seven miles outside Hot Springs, and mid-way between Kalispell and Missoula, the hot springs are easily accessible, offering unique driving directions from nearby areas.
  6. Community and Safety – Accommodating a diverse community of visitors, the hot springs maintain high cleanliness and safety standards, despite the absence of a lifeguard.
  7. Lasting Impressions – A visit to Wild Horse Hot Springs isn’t just about taking a quick dip; it’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in the healing touch of nature, make meaningful connections, and create lasting memories in a natural haven touched by both legend and the wonders of the natural world.

About Wild Horse Hot Springs

An outdoor hot spring pool with stone edges and clear waters, surrounded by a wooden fence, at Wild Horse Hot Springs.
source: facebook.com

The allure of Montana’s Wild Horse Hot Springs is hard to resist. Nestled in the Pioneer Mountains, the springs offer a serene and natural retreat surrounded by breathtaking wilderness. If you need a soothing soak in mineral-rich waters while immersing in unspoiled nature, the Wild Horse Hot Springs may be just what you’re looking for.


A view of Wild Horse Hot Springs' outdoor pool from behind its weathered metal side barrier.
source: facebook.com

Molly Bartlett, the daughter of Montana’s second governor, Robert S. Smith, stumbled upon the powerful geyser “Mother Dragon,” the source of Wild Horse Hot Springs. Legend has it that her accidental geyser opening in the late 1800s caused it to shoot out 128°F water at an astonishing 1,200 gallons per minute. This ancient force of nature continues to supply water to the pools at Wild Horse to this day.

When you visit, you’ll notice a photo of “Mother Dragon” proudly hanging in the office, a tribute to this remarkable natural origin. However, the picturesque setting has had a tragic twist as well.

In May 2013, Laurence Kenmille was involved in a fatal incident at Wild Horse Hot Springs. The details are unsettling; Melvin Madplume Jr. was charged and convicted of both raping and killing Kenmille, leading to his life sentence without parole.

The repercussions were felt deeply in the local community. Wild Horse was temporarily shut down, and the specific pool where the tragic incident occurred has been permanently sealed.

This act reflects the community’s respect for the safe, responsible, and respectful enjoyment of Montana’s natural gifts. So when we talk about the history of Wild Horse Hot Springs, it’s not just the story of the forces of nature but also a poignant reminder of human impact.

Features and Amenities

A wooden sink area and fence dividers separating the spring pools at Wild Horse Hot Springs in Montana
source: facebook.com

Wild Horse Hot Springs, fueled by the majestic Mother Dragon geyser, grants guests access to top-tier warm spring water. The outdoor stone-paved pools are carefully kept, guaranteeing a tidy and cozy soaking experience.

Situated on a boardwalk close to the water source, the tubs overlook a large artisanal pond located in the back of the property. Surrounded by beautiful tall grasses and frequented by stunning birds, the surroundings add to the picturesque setting.

The hot spring water wells feed 14 plunges with temperatures ranging from a balmy 95-98 °F to a more invigorating 125-128 °F, with a generous flow rate of 1,200 gallons per minute under natural pressure.

Pools are cleaned daily and remain chemical-free, with a continuous flow of new water and drainage of used water, ensuring a pristine environment for guests. All plunges feature hot water valves available for guest use, promoting a communal and relaxed atmosphere outdoors.

While Wild Horse Hot Springs is not a luxury resort, it appeals to outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rustic experience amid nature’s beauty. Accommodations include dry cabins with basic amenities, although bathrooms do not have running water, and guests are advised to bring their own cookware and eating utensils.

For those seeking a unique camping experience, tipi tents are available, providing a no-frills option for guests to enjoy the natural surroundings. RV and campsites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with guests encouraged to call the office ahead to reserve an RV spot with electricity if needed.

Hours and Prices

Wild Horse Hot Springs operates from Sunday to Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Thursday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Please note that there is no lifeguard on duty, so guests should exercise caution and adhere to safety guidelines while enjoying the hot springs.

For parties of 10 or more, it’s advisable to call ahead, especially on weekends, to ensure availability and accommodate larger groups effectively.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Wild Horse Hot Springs pricing:

ServicePriceAdditional Information
Adult Soak$14Ages 13 & up; 2-hour max soak during busy times
Kid’s Soak$10Ages 6-12; Must be supervised at all times
Kid’s Soak (Ages 5 & under)FreeMust be supervised and potty trained
Wild Horse Punch Card$90Frequent soaker card: 10 soaks for $90
Locals Discount (Adult)$12Sanders and Lake County Residents (Proof Required)
Locals Discount (Kid’s)$8Sanders and Lake County Residents (Proof Required)
Sauna (per 1/2 hour)$12Sauna use included for overnight guests
Sauna & Soak$19Sauna and soaking for guests
Birthday Discount50% offProof required – must be on the actual birthday
Military Discount$2 offProof required

Credit and debit cards are gladly accepted, but checks are not accepted as payments.

These are just the basic rates – visit Wild Horse Hot Springs’ official website for comprehensive details.

Location and Directions

To reach Montana’s Wild Horse Hot Springs, head about seven miles outside the lovely town of Hot Springs. It’s roughly halfway between the popular towns of Kalispell and Missoula. You’ll find it near the beautiful Flathead Lake and not far from Glacier National Park.

Driving Distances to Wild Horse Hot Springs:

  1. From Missoula: A breezy 1 hour 21 minutes.
  2. From Coeur d’Alene: A bit longer at 2 hours 46 minutes, but worth the scenic drive.

How to Get There:

  • If You’re Coming From Missoula:
    1. Hop onto the I-90 W for 9 miles (14.4 km).
    2. Take Exit 96 for US-93 N.
    3. Follow the US-93 N for 27 miles until Ravalli.
    4. Turn left onto MT-200 W.
    5. After 41 miles (66 km), hang a right onto State Hwy 382 in Perma.
    6. A little over 19 miles (30.5) down, you’ll enter Hot Springs. Turn right onto Kopp Road and then take a left onto Camp Aqua Road. Half a mile later, dive into those soothing waters.
  • If You’re Coming From Coeur d’Alene:
    1. Catch the I-90 E for about 93 miles (149.6 km).
    2. Take Exit 33 at St Regis.
    3. Meander down MT-135 W for 21 miles (33.7 km), then swing a left onto MT-200 W.
    4. Another 8 miles (12.8 km) and it’s time to turn left again, now onto Mount Hwy 28 E.
    5. Stay on this scenic highway for 20 miles (32 km), then indulge a right onto Kopp Road.
    6. The last leg is straight ahead on Camp Aqua Road; the hot springs eagerly await you on the right.

Wild Horse Hot Springs Final Thoughts

Entrance to Wild Horse Hot Springs featuring various signs and a small wooden gate.
source: facebook.com

Wild Horse Hot Springs offers a unique and unforgettable experience for visitors seeking relaxation and immersion in natural beauty. With a rich history sourced from the legendary geyser “Mother Dragon,” the springs have seen tragic events that have shaped their narrative.

The pristine outdoor stone-paved plunges and serene surroundings provide a sanctuary for those seeking solace in nature’s embrace. The continuous flow of the hot springs water ensures a rejuvenating experience, fostering connections and shared moments of tranquility.

Accessible to both residents and travelers passing through, Wild Horse Hot Springs offers affordable prices, diverse accommodations, and a commitment to cleanliness and safety. Its strategic location between Kalispell and Missoula, near Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park, makes it an ideal stop for outdoor enthusiasts exploring the region.

Wild Horse Hot Springs invites visitors to immerse themselves in its warm embrace and leave rejuvenated with cherished memories of their time spent amidst its tranquil waters.

Wild Horse Hot Springs FAQs

1. Is Wild Horse Hot Springs Open Year-Round?

Yes, Wild Horse Hot Springs is open year-round, allowing visitors to enjoy its natural beauty and warm spring waters regardless of the season.

2. Where Is Wild Horse Hot Springs Located?

Wild Horse Hot Springs is located approximately seven miles outside the small town of Hot Springs, Montana. It is situated halfway between Kalispell and Missoula, near Flathead Lake, and not far from Glacier National Park.

3. Do Wild Horse Hot Springs Accept Credit Cards?

Yes, Wild Horse Hot Springs accepts credit and debit cards for payment.

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Written by:

Elizabeth Hawley
Hey, fellow travelers! I'm Elizabeth Hawley, stepping into the world in the hues of fall. For me, Montana is more than just a state; it's a muse. The golden aspen trees and russet landscapes in the fall have always fueled my creativity. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was a no-brainer, blending my love for art, photography, and Montana's ever-changing palette.

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