Stay in Town or Get Outside… Lava Offers The Best of Both

Our scenic corner of Idaho offers the best of both town and country, with a historic downtown that’s begging to be explored and enough recreation to satisfy the most serious outdoor enthusiast. And the best part? You can do both in one day, a weekend, or – even better – arrive mid-week to skip the crowds.

Lava Hot Springs offers four seasons of fun, but shoulder seasons are a fantastic time to visit. The pace is slower, and spring and fall offer great chances to see Idaho as it blooms into life and changes colors.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to make the most of both Downtown Lava Hot Springs and outdoor fun.

Travel Through History

Where to eat at Restaurants in Lava Hot Springs


Spend time Downtown
The human history of this part of scenic Idaho dates back thousands of years – and yes, Lava’s famous springs were an attraction even then. At the South Bannock County Historical Museum, the permanent interpretive exhibit “Poha-Ba, Land of Healing Water” delves into the stories and history of the native peoples of this area and their connection to the land. Trappers, traders, and settlers came next, all of them contributing to the rich history here.

Get outside
Travel to historic Chesterfield, about 40 minutes north of Lava, and step back into the 1880s. This little town in the foothills of the Portneuf Valley has been lovingly preserved and is open to visitors who want to explore its brick buildings, which are still much as they were when Chester Call built the place that bears his name. Free tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day by calling 208-648-7177.

Soak. Float. Repeat.


Soak. Float. Repeat. in Lava Hot Springs Idaho


Spend time Downtown
The Lava Hot Springs pools are right on Main Street, offering multiple pools at varying temperatures so you can Goldilocks your way to the perfect, soothing soak. Kids will love the nearby seasonal swimming complex, complete with a waterpark and year-round, indoor aquatic center. Whether you’re slipping down a waterslide or melting stress away, you’ll benefit from mineral-rich waters that are known to soothe common ailments like arthritis.

Get outside
Experienced visitors will tell you that a soak in Lava’s hot pools is even better after floating the Portneuf River, a time-honored summer tradition that lets you take in town while lazing about in an inner tube. You’ll find plenty of places to rent the gear you need for your trip: Mountain Mayhem Adventure Rentals, 4 Falls Tube Rental, TPD Tubes, Gator Tubing, and Portneuf Rapids Tubes are all centrally located in Lava.


Explore Like an Adventurer


Zip lining in Lava Hot Springs IdahoPHOTO CREDIT: IDAHO TOURISM

Spend time Downtown

Want a bird’s-eye view of gorgeous Southeastern Idaho? Head to the Lava Zipline Adventure headquarters on Main Street, where you’ll be picked up in the company’s Army truck and ferried to a private zipline and ropes course strung across a canyon. It’s 3.5 hours of adrenaline for all ages!

Get outside
Hikers will love the Idaho Centennial Trail, which was constructed in 1990 to celebrate 100 years of statehood. But its history goes far beyond that: the upper part of the trail leads to an old mine (now out of use). This 2.2-mile trail is fairly steep in parts, so bring your water, sunscreen, and sturdy shoes. Mountain bikers and ATV enthusiasts flock to the Pebble Creek Trail, a 37-mile loop that winds through the Portneuf Mountains and offers amazing forest views.

Fuel Up and Fish



Spend time Downtown

Fuel up with a hearty breakfast, grab a cup of hot coffee, or grab lunch to go before heading out to some of Idaho’s best fishing spots – Lava offers restaurants ranging from cute diners to elegant gourmet meals. When you return, you’ll find plenty of nightlife to cap off your day on the water.

Get outside
Fishing is a year-round affair at Lava, with stream, lake, and ice fishing all just a short ride away. Try the Portneuf River for fly fishing, where the waters off the Blaser Highway promise great opportunities to nab a cutthroat, rainbow, or brown trout. Nearby Chesterfield Reservoir (yes, like the historic town) is well-known for its ice fishing opportunities. Of course, in such a water-rich part of the state, there are innumerable opportunities to bag your limit – for a full list and maps, check out Southeast Idaho High Country’s maps. Word to the wise: Idaho hosts a Free Fishing Day on the second Saturday in June, when anyone can cast a line without a license. You’ll need a license to fish any other time of year, however; you can purchase yours at the Sunnyside Sinclair at 10124 E. Highway 30.

Do Leisure Right


Ice Cream in Downtown Lava Hot Springs Idaho


Spend time Downtown

It is more than easy to spend a full morning, afternoon, or even a leisurely day downtown. Take home a Lava souvenir from the Suites of Lava Hot Springs Gift Shop, where they can stock up on raw fleece, yarn, or already made clothing. You never know what you will find at the Purple Moon, where offerings range from imported jewelry and gifts to crystals. Dempsey Creek Trading Company is a Westerners delight, with a wonderful variety of Southwestern silver jewelry, home decor, and artifacts.

Get outside

Every June through September, families and friends flock to Baker Ranch for its famous wagon rides. This three-hour excursion gives you a taste of the Old West, as draft horses carry you to the ranch’s private property along Dempsey Creek. Once you arrive at the ranch, tuck into a roast beef dinner with all the fixings while listening to live music. It’s a great option for a girlfriends’ trip, a family outing, or reunions.

Play Hard, Recover Faster


Pebble Creek Ski Area Skiing and Snowboarding

Get outside
You won’t miss a workout when you’re in Lava – all year, outdoor enthusiasts will discover ways to get in some fun. During the winter, Pebble Creek Ski Area is the place to be for downhill and cross-country skiers: 52 runs, 225 inches of snowfall, and 1,100 acres to plow through. In the spring, summer, and fall, golfers can play endless rounds at one of the area’s numerous courses.

 Spend time Downtown

Of course, a town as wellness-focused as Lava has unbeatable massage therapists to work out the kinks from a hard day of playing. Try Greystone Manor Massage Therapy, Riverside Hot Springs Inn and Spa, the Lava Hotel Massage Studio or the Lava Hot Springs Inn and Spa. Bonus: These are stay-and-play options! Once every muscle is relaxed, all you have to do is head back to your room for a restful night’s sleep.

Lava Hot Springs Wellness Festival

If you’re ready for a deep dive (pun intended) into wellness, be sure to check out the annual Lava Hot Springs Wellness Festival from May 14-15, 2021. This two-day extravaganza of healing waters, expert presentations, excursions, exercise (including a 5K fun run), and exhibitor demonstrations will feature yoga, aromatherapy, massage and tons of helpful info and tools to add to your wellness toolkit. Plus, it’s only $25 to register!

Ready to plan your best-of-both-worlds trip? Check out the Lava Hot Springs website for many more ideas, lodging information, and much more. 

Idaho High Country Recreation GuideIdaho High Country Recreation Guide