Dramatic vistas! Tickling bubbles! Heavenly steam! Hot springs prove Mother Nature wants you to luxuriate at one of these affordable spa escapes.
Where: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
What: Once a hangout for in-the-know park rangers, this spot's still one of Yellowstone's best-kept secrets. Three miles south of the park's north entrance—and half a mile from the parking area—a rock wall and billowy clouds mark the location where a thermal spring with temperatures of up to 140 degrees clashes with the colder water of the Gardner River, creating a series of hot tubs—from super-hot to tepid. Get a room at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel () and you'll be able to watch elk graze outside your window.
While You're There: Sign up for a rollicking rafting trip on the Yellowstone River (). Then chill out with a thin-crust pie at Yellowstone Pizza Company in Gardiner, Montana, where bison numbers among the exotic, locally sourced toppings (406-848-9991).
Where: Dunton, Colorado
What: If you're the glamping type, Dunton Hot Springs () is the spa for you. Stay in (some built by original area miners) located just steps from the bathhouse, and find majestic mountain and meadow views right outside your window. Bathe in mineral-rich waters powered by tectonic plates related to the Triassic Dolores Formation, and select from a menu of massage and skincare treatments.
While You're There: Dine at the saloon, and check out Colorado's only geyser, located nearby. Go skiing or fly fishing, and take yoga or pilates.
Where: Fairbanks, Alaska
What: Discovered by gold prospectors in 1905, the Chena Hot Springs lake () has been soothing visitors for more than 100 years. At the resort, you can also enjoy additional man-made heated pools and a range of therapeutic massages. Stay in rustic rooms or cabins, or camp in an RV, tent, or one of the yurts on the grounds.
While You're There: Dine at the resort restaurant, take ice-sculpting lessons, and go on a geothermal renewable energy tour.
Where: Grindavík, on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland
What: Recognized as one of the wonders of the world, this seawater lagoon () is completely powered by geothermal energy and boasts skincare benefits—particularly for people with psoriasis. You'll get a silica mud mask upon entrance, which costs anywhere from 5.4 Icelandic Króna (or .0475 USD) to 26.500 ISK (or .2331 USD), depending on which option you choose. Stay a mere 10-minute walk away, at , which has its own private bathing lagoon and stunning views of the surrounding lava fields.
While You're There: Dine at the on-site restaurants and bar. Hire a car to explore Thingvellir National Park, or go whale-watching in Reykjavik. If you're there between November and March, try and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
What: Perched 5,200 feet above sea level in Banff National Park, this bathhouse () has been around since 1932 and offers stunning views of the Canadian Rockies, along with plunge baths, steam rooms, and soaking tubs that reach 104 degrees (). Spend the night at Alberta's Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, a sprawling, 125-year-old Scottish-style castle.
While You're There: Drive 45 minutes on the scenic Trans-Canada Highway to the ethereal turquoise waters of Lake Louise. Feeling energetic? Follow the 2¼-mile trail up to the Lake Agnes Tea House, where guests have been enjoying pots of Earl Grey and fresh-baked treats since 1905 ().
Where: New Mexico
What: Indigenous Southwestern tribes bathed in Ojo's healing waters for ages, and in 1868, the first bathhouse was built on this rocky desert site. Today, visitors can bask in 11 pools—all fed by a natural aquifer, whose 80- to 109-degree waters contain iron and trace minerals believed to relieve everything from digestive troubles to skin conditions. Prefer a solo soak? Reserve one of Ojo's cliffside suites () with a private outdoor tub.
While You're There: Feast on tender house-made pork tamales and chiles rellenos at Rancho de Chimayó, a 48-year-old family-run New Mexican restaurant just a 45-minute drive away ().
What: After a three-week stint in 1818 to soothe his rheumatism, Thomas Jefferson praised this property's Allegheny Mountain hot springs as among the best in America. The crystal-clear water stays a body-warm 98.6 degrees year-round, and the sodium content is so high, you'll float. Plus, the Homestead Resort () itself, a National Historic Landmark with Ionic columns, is straight out of a fairy tale.
While You're There: Browse the vintage furniture and textiles at Ashwood School Antiques—it's chock-full of local estate-sale scores (540-839-2348).
What: Fueled by the world's deepest geothermal hot spring, this resort's () 23 terraced mineral baths overlook the mountain-lined San Juan River. Overnight stays come with 24-hour access to the pools—for gazing at shooting stars.
While You're There: Book a detoxifying full-body seaweed wrap—it includes a hearty, circulation-revving scalp massage—at the on-site day spa. If you're looking for a true Rocky Mountain high, the hotel also offers hot-air-balloon rides.