Make the Most of Every Month This Fall at Lava

Make the Most of Every Month This Fall at Lava

Everyone hypes up summer holidays, but if you’re looking for a truly relaxing reset, autumn is where it’s at. No waiting in line. No scorching sun. No need to do anything but enjoy the moment. And this fall, Lava Hot Springs has plenty of moments you’ll want to enjoy. Whether you arrive in October, November, or December, you’ll be treated to plenty of outdoor adventures, healing waters, and opportunities for fun.

Photo credit: Idaho Tourism

If you’re traveling in October … 

The forests surrounding Lava Hot Springs are awash in fall colors of reds, oranges, and yellows through October. Trees in the higher-elevation mountains typically peak in September, but the valley where Lava Hot Springs lies will be blazing through October. For a lovely view (not to mention a workout), hike the Centennial Trail to the giant “L” that looks over Lava. 

October is a great time for mountain bikers, ATV enthusiasts, and motorcycle riders to explore the 200-mile Caribou Loop Trail, which usually remains passable until the snow starts falling in November (be sure to check the weather forecast and call the local Forest Service office if you have concerns). 

Photo credit: Idaho Tourism

Plan your visit for the first weekend of October and you’ll encounter one of Lava’s signature events: Oktoberfest! This rousing festival features food, live music, German food, and (of course) plenty of beer. Kids are welcome, too, and there will be pumpkin carving, face painting, and their very own carnival to get them in the spirit. 

After all that adventure, there’s nothing as relaxing as sliding into Lava’s famous hot pools. Not only is the water laden with minerals like magnesium that soothe aches and pains, they’re also a magical place to spend an evening. In October, the hot pools are open until 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch the Orionid meteor shower, a leftover of Halley’s comet, as it streaks through the southeast sky in October. The shower is scheduled to peak Oct. 20-21. 

Photo credit: Idaho Tourism

If you’re joining us in November … 

Hunters and anglers are drawn to the Lava Hot Springs area in the fall thanks to the abundant wildlife and thrill of the chase — and Lava is the perfect home base. You’ll find abundant places to park your RV, set up camp, or rent a cabin or hotel room. Before you head out, head down for a hearty breakfast at the Chuckwagon, where the chicken fried steak and pancakes are so huge they’ve intimidated even the burliest hunters. After a full day of being outdoors, stop by the Wagon Wheel, where you’ll find a full bar, wine, and beers on tap. 

You’ll discover thrills of a different kind at the Lava Zip Line and Ropes Course Adventure, which will zip you over the last pops of fall colors before testing your balance and coordination skills on the ropes. Just be sure you make reservations in advance — they’re required for entry. 

Photo credit: Idaho Tourism

Plan your trip for Veterans Day weekend and you could be in for a treat: veterans will receive free entry to Lava Hot Springs pools on Nov. 11 from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Simply bring your proof of service (tattoos will be accepted) and enjoy a well-deserved break. 

The pools are also a foolproof way to keep family entertained over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The hot springs will be closed on Thanksgiving day but will be open for regular hours from Friday-Sunday. You’ll want the whole fam in town for the Holiday Lighting and Gingerbread Walk kickoff, which will take place on Nov. 25. Santa will be on hand, the lights on the town’s tree will be lit for the first time, hot chocolate will be served, and downtown businesses will have their new gingerbread houses on display. The event runs from 5-7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

If you’re looking for a December escape …

Lava Hot Springs businesses put out beautiful, sugary houses as part of the annual Gingerbread Walk. You can give yourself a free tour of these confectionary creations from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week by using the Gingerbread Walk map. If you happen to arrive after the Christmas holiday, don’t worry: the houses will be on display until December 31.

 Heading out on the Gingerbread Walk will give you another advantage — great gift ideas! Lava’s historic downtown offers plenty of opportunities for unique shopping. Discover gifts for river lovers at Mountain Mayhem, practical and useful stocking stuffers at Lava Ace Hardware, unusual gems, jewelry, and textiles at Purple Moon World Market, and cozy sweaters, mittens, hats, and more at Alpaca Products and Gift Shop.

For a truly rewarding experience, plan your visit around Customer Appreciation Day at the Lava Hot Springs hot pools on December 13. Admission will be free all day (yes, free!). Be sure to check out the special holiday presents available at the gift shop. 

Once you’ve relaxed to your heart’s content, get the adrenaline flowing again with a snowmobiling expedition. The area around Lava is crisscrossed with outstanding trails that offer spectacular views of the countryside. If something a little slower — but no less heart-pumping — is your speed, check out Baker Ranch’s snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat tire biking trails. Snowshoes and boots are available for rent, or you can bring your own gear. Trail fees are only $10 for a full day!

When you’re back in town, don’t forget to book your lodging for the Fire & Ice Winterfest. This freewheeling party has been named one of the best winter festivals in the country by USA Today, and rooms go quickly. Make sure you don’t miss out! 

You can always find more trip ideas, plus a wide range of places to stay, on our website. Book your stay this autumn and enjoy everything Lava has to offer at your own pace.