As much as I love cramming as much hiking as possible into a short weekend trip, this weekend was a breath of fresh air for me. At first it felt a little strange, but I quickly welcomed the much-needed rest and relaxation.
A few months ago, I was looking around the internet for hot springs nearby. I know there are several in Utah but we’ve never been to any of them, and I was hoping to find out which one was the best. In my Google search, I stumbled upon Maple Grove Hot Springs.
It was a cute little hot springs in Idaho — not too far of a drive — and they had those adorable little canvas tents that always look Pinterest-perfect. They also had some tent sites (bring your own tent), cabins and yurts. But I was super bummed to find out that they weren’t open yet! They were finishing a remodel and would be open soon, so I put my email on the list to get updates and promptly forgot about it and moved on to the next thing.
A few weeks ago, I got an email that Maple Grove Hot Springs was open for business! I asked Kevin if he still wanted to go and it seemed like a great thing to do in the middle of all of our trips to the hot, hot Southern Utah. We booked a canvas tent for July 19-21 and got a great early bird deal!
We left on Friday after work — per usual — and unfortunately this was the first trip requiring us to drive north instead of south so we hit a considerable amount of traffic. We had expected this and were content to sit in traffic and listen to the End of the World podcast by Josh Clark (10/10 would recommend). After stopping for a quick dinner at Chipotle (my fav and go-to), traffic sped up a bit and we finally reached our destination.
If you’ve never been to a place before and you’re also listening to a podcast called “End of the World” as you’re driving there, you might say to your husband as he turns off the highway onto a windy dirt road that seems to be taking you into nowhere, past what looks like abandoned farmhouses with no other life in sight:
“Babe, this is totally going to be one of those places where the person running it is a serial killer and we never make it out alive.”
Kevin was not following this line of thought, and we were both pleasantly surprised to find that the windy dirt road did not in fact lead to a serial killer’s barn, but to a beautiful little meadow with canvas tents and yurts and pools, right next to the river!
A note for travelers: I think the dirt road was maybe 3-5 miles long. It is bumpy but you could definitely make it there in a car (I would have been totally confident taking my Corolla down this road). Don’t worry, there are no serial killers here and it’s a lovely little spot far away from the noise of the highway.
Although we arrived after 8:00pm, the staff members were still milling about, tidying up and chatting with visitors, and they were able to get us settled in one of the canvas tents. Although they are open for business, they are not quite yet done with their renovations. They are finishing up a small building which will have a café and restrooms, but in the meantime they have two outhouses available (which I can attest are without a doubt the cleanest outhouses I’ve ever used).
Our tent was very cute and looked exactly like the photos on the website. We were not disappointed. It had two double beds and originally, we planned on sleeping together in one of the beds, but we were too hot so we spread out and got our own beds for the weekend! The tent had some lovely amenities — a small trash can, lots of pillows on the bed, very cozy bedding, a candle that we used both nights, two chairs on the “patio” and a small chair and some stools to sit on inside the tent. A group of 5 people came to stay in the tent next to ours on the second night (that one also had 2 double beds) and they seemed to make it work.
The pools themselves were absolutely wonderful. There were 3 with varying temperatures — I think the hottest one was 108 and the coolest was 101 — and also two swimming pools (which we did not go in but were still warm). The river was also right there so we could dip in and cool off whenever we wanted — and also take a turn using the canoe and paddle boards.
We spent the entire day reading, soaking, and relaxing. We sunbathed on the deck by the pools in the morning and found a shady spot in the grass in the afternoon — because Kevin was already sunburnt! — and I had finished my book by the time we went to bed. It was such a wonderful, relaxing day and I slept great and felt rested and recharged on Sunday morning.
Maple Grove Hot Springs gets 5/5 stars. The hot springs were wonderful and the canvas tent was clean (and the outhouses were astonishingly clean!). We loved that we could use the canoe and paddle boards in the river, and we didn’t really mind not having showers because we spent the whole weekend in the water anyway. Yes, there are bugs here. There are mosquitos in the evenings — bring some bug repellent — and we did have some of those pesky ear wig bugs in our tent (but aside from being just nasty, they don’t actually bite or sting so they are more of a nuisance than anything). If you’re expecting a luxury resort with all the accommodations, this place is not for you. If you want to have a lovely, relaxing soak in a hot springs far far away from large crowds of people — with a pool all to yourself — this is the place for you.
I’m not sure if we will go back again this summer (because the desert is calling me and I have so many more places to explore) but we will definitely come back eventually!
We left fairly early Sunday morning because we wanted to stop at Bear Lake on our way home. It seems to be the place everyone in Utah goes every summer so we were intrigued. It was really beautiful and the water was clear, but we weren’t that impressed with it and we didn’t end up staying. The North Beach was packed with people so we drove over to the East Beach and there were less people, but more garbage on the beaches and mosquitoes everywhere.
It definitely seems like the kind of lake that is amazing if you have a boat and can spend all your time out in the middle of the lake, but if you’re beach-bound it seems a bit less fun. But I think I’ve been spoiled by my summers at Lake Tahoe and growing up so close to the Oregon Coast. We were glad we checked out Bear Lake rather than booking a campsite for the weekend, because we probably won’t go back this summer. Now, if anyone has a boat and wants to invite us — that’s another story!
We drove home a different way and ended up driving through Evanston, Wyoming. Neither of us have been to Wyoming so now we can technically cross that off our list! We stopped at a decent restaurant — nothing to write home about — and a really cute coffee shop called The Caffeinated Cowboy (they also have sodas). We saw a bunch of hilarious signs at the Wyoming/Utah border, including a store called LIQUOR AND FIREWORKS (a great combination).
And now, we are gearing up for our next trip — Bryce Canyon National Park! And I think we’re bringing our bikes, so stay tuned!
Edit: Kevin got on my case about this blog post because somehow I forgot a really hilarious thing that happened during our drive home, so we’re going to insert that here.
Kevin (driving) yells something like, “Babe, help!”
I turn to look at him, trying to figure out why he just yelled help and he’s like, “Quick, get me my glasses!”
In my head I’m like, dude you are wearing your glasses (sunglasses) but he must mean his real glasses.
He’s like, “Hurry, my contact just fell out!”
At this point I’m like, “WTF dude maybe you should have led with that!” and I’m grabbing his glasses from the bag in the backseat.
He takes off his sunglasses and there’s his contact sitting on the rim of his sunglasses. Unbelievable. He takes out the other contact and puts his glasses on and all is well, and then proceeds to tell me a story about how this happened once before in the pouring rain…
Needless to say nothing bad happened, but it was pretty crazy and Kevin was really upset that I forgot about it while writing this post so there, are you happy now babe?!