On June 23rd, 2019, Skip, Bandit, and I packed up our Subaru Outback (we recently traded in my Honda Civic and wanted to test it in the woods) and adventured past Crouch, Idaho, to the Boise National forest for the night.
The Boise National Forest past Crouch, Idaho, has some of the best boon-docking (Camping in non-designated campsites) that we have encountered in Idaho.
There are tons of spots along the river and multiple backpacking sites along trails. There is a campsite towards the end of the road, click HERE to reserve your next campsite.
Regardless of if you are in the area to camp or just for the day to soak in the many hot springs the site has to offer, you may encounter moose, whitetail antelope, deer, elk, occasionally a cow, and of course rabbits and squirrels.
During the evening into the late night, you may hear wolves or coyotes in the distance. Always be aware of your surroundings while in the wilderness.
Even though you are in the area for the excellent hikes to some of the most beautiful hot springs, stop and enjoy all scenery. The site is full of Ponderosa pine, Douglas Fir, Engelmann Spruce, Narrowleaf Balsamroot, glacier lily, wildflowers, and so much more. Some of the fields you come across are full of vivid colors and so much greenery.
The Rocky Canyon Hot springs are only one of the many hot springs in the area and the only one we will discuss in this article.
Unfortunately, a few years ago, the city officials did not approve of all of the nudity and drinking at this hot spring. They went in with sledgehammers and destroyed the once 10 cascading pools that went down the mountain.
Since then, locals have gone in and repaired and rebuilt five of the pools. You can still see the remnants of the cement pools. Click HERE to read about the Leave No Trace Project.
Depending on the time of the year, getting to the springs will be more complex than another season.
Winter into early spring, there is still snow on the ground, and you must snowshoe in.
Spring into the middle of the summer, the snow is still melting off the mountains, so the river is high, and the current is strong.
Late summer into fall is the easiest time to cross because the river is lower, and the wind isn't as strong.
There are sharp rocks at the bottom of the river. We recommend wearing shoes.
We crossed the river in late June, and it was still very high and swift. We luckily have a vest for Bandit because Skip had to hold on to him while we crossed the river because the current was too strong for Bandit to travel independently.
Finding the hot springs is where people go wrong and end up turning around or just giving up. There isn't an exact location unless you drop a pin into the location on your maps.
Directions to the trailhead
Take Hwy. 55 to Banks, which doubles as a landmark town to remember to turn right off of 55.
Continue along Banks-Lowman Highway until you reach Crouch.
Follow South Middle Fork Road through the small town and out the other side, where it loses the "South" and becomes simply Middle Fork Rd. Remember to reset your trip odometer for the next steps.
About 7 or 8 miles from Crouch, the road will turn to gravel.
Camp spots along the river will start popping up the further you drive.
The hot springs are roughly 12 miles from downtown Crouch, at which point you should be looking for a two or three-car pull-off area and steam coming from the opposite side of the river.
The springs are a decently busy spot, so there is usually a car or two at the pull-off site.