Trip Prep Time: We had researched and been to this location previously in the winter. This time Bear Lake sounded cloudy with thunder so we thought Lava Hot Springs sounded warm enough due to having the hot springs alternative. Really we woke up didn’t even eat breakfast and got in the car and went. There was a Costco pit stop to buy tubes and a PFD. Also, there was an unfortunate Carl Junior pit stop that has me off of Carls Junior for awhile.
Cost: Lava Hot Springs Olympic Pool Complex cost 10 USD for adults and 2 dollars for the toddler. There is a combination pass for the hot pools down the street (102-112 degrees) for 16.00 USD. The pools down the street are the ones for the adults so if you are here for a soak only go straight there. Renting tubes at most locations is 5 dollars for a trip and 15 for the day. For bigger more interesting tubes it does cost more.
Best Route Out: Take I-15 North till you hit exit 44 (Jensen Rd) go until you hit State St then turn left. On Price Rd turn right until you hit Highway 30 for Lava Hot Springs. Lava Hot Springs is only about 10 minutes from there. You will start to see the Portneuf River along the way.
Lodging Tips/Where to stay: There are plenty of small independent hotels and motels in the area and lots of Camping also. There are no name brand hotels as this location exists off hot springs and tubing only.
Activities Planned: We used the Lava Hots Springs Olympic Complex. We pulled Derek out of his PFD to let him get used to being in the water without it. He much prefers swimming here than regular pools or lakes due to him being so skinny. Warm water is nice so who can complain. It was so packed there this weekend due to it being the 4th of July so I only I used the water slides once. We let Derek play in the kiddy area after leaving the Olympic pool. There is one hot pool inside and it is hot enough. We got rained on a bit but only for like a minute then the sun broke out.
We planned to try tubing. We even bought supplies at Costco. This is one of those few times you’ll hear me say use the outfitters there. One reason is they will shuttle you back up and you don’t have to carry the tube back up. Still, it is not a difficult walk back to do the route a second time. Two places we saw were TPD Tubes and Gator Tubes.
Before we even get started we want to offer some advice. First, walk the route you wish to tube and get to know the bumpy spots in the river. Look at my map below, where you see the red oval is a waterfall (entry above the Thai Restuarant). You will flip out of your tube even as an adult and land in very deep water if you enter here. In fact, if someone can go down this waterfall and not flip I will buy you a beer. I was in as deep as my head and got thoroughly scraped up. Where you see the yellow oval I went down just “fine” but don’t take kids with you on this one (and stay far to the left). See the below video to see how to get down that second drop.
Enter the river below it if you have children (see picture below). Where you see the green oval on the below map there is a little dip with an eddy but you should not flip if you have a 2 person or more tube. So if you have kids with you put them in a PFD and rent one of the bigger tubes.
If you are looking for lazy river environment roll past the Lava Hot Spring Olympic pool complex and it appears to get slower. We only went as far as the complex and care to do more in the future. I don’t think the shuttles pick you up down there and we saw a few people hiking back barefooted with tubes. This seems like a real pain.
Activities Accomplished: I decided to drive 20 miles to Soda Springs, ID to see a man made geyser. When I arrived I had to wait for 45 minutes for it to go off at slightly 5 past the hour (:05). A little-known fact about this geyser was when it was created it allegedly put Old Faithful off its schedule and the inhabitants of this town were asked by the Secretary of the Interior to cap the geyser. Also, check out Octagon Spring Park for some carbonated water.
GPS Worthy: We lost cell coverage along Oneida Narrows and the Bear River. This was not a big deal as it was a straight road. If you decide to hang out in this area keep that in mind.
Food: Our stops for good food on this trip were lacking. We talked about hitting a bunch of places but did not in Lava Hot Springs. Due to a number of independent restaurants in Lava Hot Spring due to tourism, we suggest you eat there. There is quite a variety for being such a small town. Eating gets slim on this road trip if you don’t. We had some fast food we were not happy with.
Points of Interest along the way: Points of interest were plenty as we took Highway 34 back towards Preston, ID and Logan after visiting Soda Springs. Beyond being a historical route it was much prettier than I-15. We were trying to find Black Canyon Gorge which we hear has some awesome CAT 4 and CAT 5 rapids. Some how we missed it and continued on a side road along the Bear River to Maple Grove Wellness Springs. This was the scenic route as Bear River widens and becomes Oneida Narrows Reservoir. Maple Grove Wellness Springs looked like a great place to camp and get a soak at the same time (8 USD for the soak). We continued along the road till we hit the dam (small picnic are near the dam). After that, we saw the Bear River turn into something to raft with mostly CAT I & CAT II’s. We believe you can even tube it. After that, we drove along to we popped back out on to Preston. If you are hungry stay on the road to Logan because Preston has the Utah Sunday problem of everything being closed, yes even restaurants.