Bozeman, Yellowstone, and Sleeping Buffalo: Hot Springs Keep Montana Bubbly and Warm
By Joeann Fossland
Montana is a Hot Springs Haven or you could even say, Heaven. There are over 100 documented hot springs, many of which are on private land.
The good news is that 26 commercially operated springs all around the state are available for you to soak in and soak up the beneficial minerals that will make your body happy.
The water in hot springs is different at each location. Minerals present in the water provide many health benefits, not available in a regular hot tub.
A nice soak goes a long way in giving your body benefits.
Another Hot Spring Story
Montana: Four Delightful Hot Springs Resorts covers four wonderful hot springs where you can stay and eat and relax.
I’ve always liked going to hot springs resorts for the pleasure of unwinding for days and not just an hour or two.
Sometimes, though, that’s not possible, so I’ve been checking out other hot springs without full accommodations.
I’ll share with you, here, an under-the-radar resort and two gorgeous, revitalized hot springs that have roots going back over 100 years.
All three have been re-invented within the past few years and are worth a plunge!
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs and Resort
Sleeping Buffalo Hot Springs & Resort is the only hot springs in Northeastern Montana, along a stretch of Highway 2 from the North Dakota border to Glacier National Park called the Hi-Line.
About three hours north of Billings, this Mecca of tranquility is a hidden delight.
History: In the 1920s, a wildcat oil rigger was drilling for oil and instead found a gushing well of hot (108º) water at 3,200 feet flowing with 900 gallons per minute!
During the depression, two Montana counties got together and with the help of the New Deal’s WPA, the hot springs became the Legion Health Resort.
Through the years, it alternatively thrived and fell into disrepair. In 2016, the current owners began a complete overhaul to bring it to its potential of a premium recreation resort.
Pools: Fed by an artesian well, the pools are chemical-free. All the pools are inside a bright, high-ceilinged room with lots of windows. They are drained and cleaned every night.
There is a long, hot pool at 106º with seats for comfortable soaking. At 90º, the very large pool is conducive to longer swims and family play. The cold plunge at 46º will definitely give your heart a jolt.
The large sauna is adjacent if you want some steam.
Minerals: The water contains many minerals that are said to give beneficial health benefits.
Lodging: Five remodeled cabins are spread out across the lawn from the pools. The cabin we stayed in was completely modernized with a full kitchen.
The large flat-screened TV had lots of channels with music, movies and shows. A portable AC unit kept us nice and cool. Internet and phone reception were very good.
Inside the lodge are several suites providing luxury. More indoor suites are planned.
Outside, there is a large area with lots of RV-hook-ups, tent spaces, picnic tables, and a bathhouse.
Food: There is no restaurant here. A large selection of sandwiches and pizza and other snacks and beverages are available in the gift shop.
The closest towns with restaurants are 12 miles away in Saco and 20 miles away in Malta. If you are going to stay for a few days, bring food. Having the kitchen solved the problem of meals for us.
Uniqueness: Sleeping Buffalo’s location makes it a destination! It isn’t on the way or near anywhere. Come to unwind and relax and take a break from the busyness of life.
It is uncrowded and beautifully updated. With few distractions and lots of comforts, this is a perfect place for a family reunion, corporate retreat, party or wedding. There are plans to rebuild the old outside pool and drilling another well.
Yellowstone Hot Springs
Yellowstone Hot Springs is 8 miles north of Gardiner at the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, along the banks of the Yellowstone River.
Nestled between two mountain ranges, the views are astounding. A herd of buffalo grazed on a hill across the street as we were soaking.
History: Folks have come to this area since the late 1800’s to soak in these waters. Julius LaDuke found hot water on his mining claim and built a small resort.
A sanatorium and hotel were built in 1909, but burned down in 1916. The location then was a dude ranch for many years, with a golf course, dance hall and restaurant. None of this remained when the current owners began construction in 2018.
Pools: Located outside, the pools are flow-through, meaning fresh mineral water is constantly flowing from the earth to the pools. The meandering, large 3,750 square foot pool is at a comfortable 102º with nooks and crannies for privacy.
The water in the spacious round pool with seats is a toasty 104º. Or, if you are brave, jump in to the 70º degree cold plunge. The Kneipp Walk feature is an alternating hot and cold walk to stimulate your system.
Mineral Content: Rich in Minerals
Lodging: Camping is adjacent with RV hook-ups and Tent sites.
Food: Right now, it’s limited to snacks, but a restaurant is planned for the future.
Uniqueness: Opened in Fall of 2019, this is a brand new facility with water sourced from LaDuke Hot Springs.
The Kneipp Walk was first used by the Danube in Germany by Sebastian Kneipp, who said the waters cured him of tuberculosis.
It has cold water on one side and hot on the other with smooth stones to walk on. As you walk, first in hot, then in cold, it stimulates and invigorates and helps heal many ailments.
Surrounding the pool for picnicking and relaxing is a lusciously landscaped area with several ramadas and plenty of grass and lawn chairs. There is lots of space for the kids to run around.
Strict no alcohol and tobacco policies are enforced. Pets are not allowed.
Bozeman Hot Springs
Just a few miles outside of Bozeman, Bozeman Hot Springs, offers quality soaking with pools indoor and out, entertainment, and options for parties and groups.
History: Local carriage maker Jeremiah Matthews first bought the springs in 1879, eventually building a bathhouse and 14- by 18-foot pool.
This small pool, enjoyed only by a few in the late 1800s, evolved through time and various owners to the destination it is today.
Gutted by an electrical fire in 2008, it was rebuilt and reopened in 2016.
Pools: Nine soaking pools with temperatures ranging from 59 degrees to 106 degrees provide every soaking experience you’d want.
Five of the pools are inside, with the hottest pool and a cold plunge here. Wet and dry sauna rooms are adjacent to the indoor pools.
Outside, the other four pools are varyingly warm, surrounded by lots of lounge chairs for uncrowded relaxing.
Minerals: Health benefits of the minerals at Bozeman Hot Springs.
Lodging: A campground is adjacent with 1 and 2 bedroom cabins, tent sites and RV hookups. Many Bozeman hotels are close by.
Food: There are only snacks and beverages available in the gift and reservation area. You are welcome to bring in food or drinks, but no alcohol or glass containers.
There are plenty of restaurants nearby. Your admission is for the day, so you can soak, go eat, and come back.
Bozeman Hot Springs is more than just the pools. It features a fitness center for those looking to hit the gym, with memberships are available for locals.
Childcare facilities are on site but are currently closed.
The three new outdoor pools, a stage, an updated sound system and foot-high flame walls give it a festive environment.
If you time it right, there will be live music on the outside stage while you swim.
An expanded parking area, revamped locker rooms and 15,000 square feet of additional patio space have also been added. The patio areas can be rented for parties.
The owners intend to make this a fun destination. They are continuing to build more facilities, including a multi-level, grotto-style pool behind the current outdoor space, and a spa.
It’s a testimony to how wonderful hot springs are that all three of these hot springs have been designed to delight and pamper you.
It’s an affordable, yet special luxury. Choose the one that sounds best to you and include it on your next trip to Montana.
Tucson travel writer Joeann Fossland, is a CyberGrandma, gypsy traveler who loves to share about road trips, hot springs, beaches, tennis, and historic sites. www.JoeannsView.com
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