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Pine Flats on the Payette River, Idaho

Pine Flats is another easy-to-get-to springs in Idaho. It's located in Pine Flats campground, five miles west of Lowman, Idaho (state hiway 21).

When you drive into the campground park at the west end and follow the short path downstream. There are several soaking pools in the rock escarpment, but the best pool is on the other side. You can climb up over the top of the rock face (and examine the source of all the hot water) and then down the scree on the far side, or you can clamber down to the river and hug the face of the escarpment to get to the far side (not possible at high water).

What's on the other side is well worth it! The hot water falls off the cliff into a shallow pool (user-built). The first time I was there was a cold Sunday morning in late October. It had snowed a little the night before, but it was a bright, sunny morning. Standing in this pool, under the cascading water, with an 11am sun just clearing the rock cliff and looking down at the river and the snow-dusted firs on the far side, I felt like Zarathustra greeting the sun from his cave!