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  • Aria Zoner

Practicing Good Hot Springs Etiquette

As an explorer on The Hot Springs Trail, what constitutes good hot springs etiquette?

Let's find out, before it's too late, and another hot spring area gets closed!

Etiquette: "the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group."


Hot springs are sacred and scenic places, but can also be dangerous and subject to closure if not approached with caution and respect. Just below, are 10 things you can do as an explorer on The Hot Springs Trail that will not only help to keep the places along this trail open, but will help to keep you out of harm's way as well while traveling along it.

Together, these 10 things are my own code of ethics when visiting any hot spring area.


Practicing Good Hot Springs Etiquette


1. When approaching hot springs, remain quite. This will increase your chances of spotting wildlife and detecting other people.

2. Along this trail, you'll find pools that have been built and developed for the purpose of soaking; however, as a visitor on this trail, avoid building new pools.

3. Some of these pools have hot and cold water diversions, used to attain safe soaking temperatures. Leave these settings as they are found.

4. Many hot spring areas on the HST have pools that can be drained for cleaning, some of which are left that way intentionally, to prevent sediment and algae from building up.

5. Upon arrival, some pools may have algae covering their surface. This is either because it's not soakable or it hasn't been visited in a while. If deemed soakable, algae can be composted discreetly nearby.

6. Clean up and organize, if not move to a better location, any trash that is found.

7. If staying overnight, for other visitor's sake - especially local wildlife, camp out of sight of the pools, or at least a courteous distance away.

8. While visiting the hot spring areas along this trail, be polite to others, as the people you meet could be the caretaker of the area or another traveler you may see again someday.

9. During your journey, be an ambassador to the springs - by alerting local authorities if you see misconduct, rinsing off (hair, dirt, lotions, etc.) before entering soaking pools, and educating others on what good hot spring ethics are.

10. No dogs in hot spring pools! This should be obvious, but at a spring near my hometown, soaking was condemned due to contamination from too many people, and their dogs, leaving feces in both the pools and in the area. Even an isolated visitation can leave a hot spring area tainted for days or weeks afterward. This goes for pack animals as well.


The bottom line:

How we carry ourselves at hot springs, as hikers on this trail or any other, can have a major impact on them, for better or worse. As the number of visitors increases at these places, it's imperative that it be done in an ethical manner, considerate of not just the land and other users of the day, but for the uniqueness of hot springs on the landscape and their importance to future generations.

What else do you think constitutes good hot springs etiquette? Comment below.


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