Photo courtesy of Lava Hot Springs
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If you live in the Western United States, you’ve likely heard of Idaho's world-famous Lava Hot Springs. These natural springs boast sulfur-free hot pools that are reputed to provide therapeutic benefits to all visitors. The promise of soothing warmth and relaxation is likely to beckon you for a trip, but the mountain village offers plenty of other attractions.

Here are six reasons to visit Lava Hot Springs during the winter in particular.

Hot springs

Obviously, people come to Lava Hot Springs for the experience that’s in the name: the five naturally heated pools ranging in temperature from 102 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit with snow-melt decks and canopies to block the sun or rain. These pools of hot mineral water are a soothing getaway any time of year, but the winter months are a particularly enjoyable time to visit the pools since they provide a warm and relaxing break from cold-weather fun.

The pools are constantly refreshed with over 2.5 million gallons of natural mineral water flowing in from the spring and out to the Portneuf River each day, according to the Lava Hot Springs website. Relax, enjoy and marvel at this natural wonder. Several of the local hotels also feature private hot baths and pools.

Winter sports

The hot pools aren’t all Lava Hot Springs has to offer, especially in the winter. Visitors can hit the slopes at nearby Pebble Creek Ski Area. The ski area boasts three lifts, 54 named runs and 2,200 vertical feet and terrain from double black diamond to easy. Don’t miss a visit to Baker Ranch for amazing snowshoeing and cross-country skiing under clear blue skies along scenic trails. Pack some hot cocoa for the warming hut or coast down the sledding hill. It’s the perfect way to revel in the beautiful winter weather. Southeast Idaho is also known for hundreds of miles of

groomed snowmobile trails, or blaze your own trail across wide open powder and mountain vistas.

Ziplining

As if skiing and snowshoeing wouldn’t satiate your appetite for incredible views, take a gander at the majestic beauty of the area by ziplining across the canyon with the Lava Zipline Adventure. Those wishing to experience the zip don’t have to be seasoned experts: If you're just over 40 pounds and under 285, you can carve out a weekend of fun to experience this year-round thrill.

Open weekends during the winter and daily during warmer weather, this is a sure way to take in the area's scenery from a bird’s-eye view. Remember to dress warmly!

Seasonal events

Summer provides plenty of ways for visitors to have fun in Lava Hot Springs, but winter has its own unique style. The Fire & Ice Winterfest, which always takes place over the first full weekend in February, is a family-friendly experience that boasts countless events, from comedy night to fire performers.

Come to enjoy chili and good music, or just to see the wacky costumes in the Polar Float Parade down the ice-cold river. Annual events are posted on the Lava Hot Springs website, so check regularly to make sure you don't miss out on the fun opportunities.

Shopping and pampering

If you need a vacation, playing hard can be a fine way to shake off the stresses of daily life, but you should also take time to recharge and relax. Aside from soaking in the hot springs, you'd be missing out if you didn't experience the truly great shopping and spa treatments available in Lava Hot Springs. Stop by shops like The Purple Moon, The Dempsey Creek Trading Post, or Alpaca Products and Gift Shops for unique gifts.

Local hotels offer individual and couples massages and two-person soaking baths (Home Hotel), and special dining and lodging packages.

Dining and activities

For a delicious evening out, choose from the authentic Riverwalk Thai, home-cooking at the Chuckwagon Cafe, or the ever-popular Portneuf Grille & Lounge, offering regional and Northwest-style cuisine, local beers and wines, and a wide selection of seasonal desserts. Keep an ear open for a variety of unexpected fun entertainment throughout town such as musical performances, bingo, or karaoke. Unwind and explore the historic buildings and world-famous hot springs. History buffs or just the curious types should take in the South Bannock County Historical Museum.

If you want to visit the hot springs, nothing should be stopping you from making this the best vacation ever. Whether you like to get cozy in a cabin or pamper yourself at a hotel, there’s something for everyone this winter in Lava Hot Springs.