“When this water pops up right here, it’s the first time it’s seen light in at least 10,000 years,” said Kurt Gindling, manager of The Springs, a day-retreat hot springs hidden away in Idaho City. “It’s considered ‘fossilized water’; it hasn’t been exposed to anything human— no pollution, no nuclear remnants. When this water pops up, it’s a reminder of what water could be.”
The Springs is only about 45 minutes from downtown Boise. People have gravitated to the magic of The Springs’ hot water for thousands of years. Native American arrowheads are still found on the grounds, and since the first permanent home was built in the 1800s, the land has been used for everything from a hotel, to a hospital, to a brothel.
Idaho City, now a town of about 450 residents, used to be the largest city in the Northwest during the Boise Basin Gold Rush of the 1860s. It’s said that the gold from the area almost wholly funded the Union during the Civil War.
In the mid-2000s, Kurt Gindling, a Renaissance man of knowhow and genuinely good, hard-working character, came across an ad looking for a caretaker for the property and met Jesse Pearson, the owner. Pearson had a grandiose plan to transform the estate from a built pool, mostly attended by college partyers, to a destination for serenity, relaxation and revitalization. Connecting with Bob Wiley, a builder from across the ridge who has a unique ability to organically, artistically build without a preset exact plan, the team constructed a new elegant building made of faswall (recycled pallets). With natural temperature regulation and general low impact, the building is a model for green design.
Now, far from the times of sheriffs battling on the front porch, The Springs is a peaceful rejuvenation retreat that offers a large hot springs pool that is cooled in the summer, private tubs, massages, sauna, outdoor shower, Rossiter, yoga, other therapeutic treatments and a café.
“It’s hard to quantify the healing benefits of these hot springs,” explained Gindling, caretaker and manager of The Springs. “There are long-term guests that come here over and over to feel better. We have a guest with Parkinson’s, and he says that being here lets him have control over his disease instead of the other way around. Guests come that have had knee surgery, palsy, and anxiety, for the ‘treatment’ of the water.”
The water at The Springs is one of the most alkaline in Idaho. The water is very “soft” (low in calcium and magnesium) and naturally high in other minerals. It is kept flowing throughout the pools—no chemicals are added—and the water sparkles clear, as the establishment adamantly cleans daily and completes a deep clean once a week.
Smiling in contentment in The Springs’ big pool, Mark Wells, a Boise resident, recounted, “Since the renovation, my first visit was last December when it was zero degrees out and there was four feet of snow around. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done here and what a delightful experience it is. We’ve been in here for 7 hours and 10 minutes and we’re still going, and it’s summer and hot out. I’m a big advocate.”
Wells went on to note that he likes that The Springs regulates both the number of people and the number of alcoholic beverages served to any individual. The Springs, not wanting to be known as a bar, is a place to come, relax and enjoy a drink, but due to the effects of hot water and the general desired atmosphere, guests are limited to one alcoholic beverage per hour.
“The two things I really enjoy about this place,” beamed Gindling, “is when someone comes here because it helps them feel better, and when the really, really little kids come, because they take to the water so naturally.”
Whatever age you are, everything feels better at The Springs. One can’t quite put a finger on why. Maybe it’s the purity of the water seeing sunlight for the first time in thousands of years, or maybe it’s simply the opportunity to be outdoors, slow down, enjoy and relax.