One of the great things about visiting Yellowstone in winter is that there is just as much to do outside the park as inside. There is Yellowstone hot spring swimming in the Boiling River and other hot springs near Yellowstone, including one of the best hot springs in Montana – Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa.
Just down the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone National Park, smack in the middle of the Paradise Valley, sits Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa. Nestled below Emigrant Peak, Chico is a locals’ favorite as well as a destination resort for anyone interested in Montana travel.
Chico Hot Springs, Montana
It’s hard to explain what makes Chico so special, but it tops my list of Montana hot springs resorts. Sure, the location is amazing–big craggy Absaroka peaks cut up the sky—and the inn is lovely, but there is something more than that. Something akin to a feeling or a vibe. You have to go to know it’s rustic Montana charm.
Between soaking in hot springs, getting a massage or facial, enjoying fine dining, kicking up your heels in the bar, cross-country skiing, and horseback riding, you could spend weeks at the 110 year old inn and never get bored.
Here’s how to make the most of your weekend whether you are looking for the best winter vacations for couples or a family-friendly winter hot springs getaway.
Insider’s Tip: Check their website for their Chico Hot Springs Winter Getaway packages. It usually includes: lodging for two, dinner for two, breakfast for two, dining gratuities, and hot springs soaking. It’s great for a couple’s winter getaway.
Chico Hot Springs Pool
Chico is best known for it natural hot springs pools. In the early 1900s, the springs were thought to heal everything from kidney troubles to skin disorders. Today, they are known to soothe muscles and relax the soaker. There is something very special about sitting in hot springs in winter with the cold air nipping at your face and snow falling all around. Some might even call it healing.
The springs flow from deep beneath the ground into two mineral hot springs pools. The smaller and hotter of the two pools is a toasty 103 degrees, while the larger pool hovers around 96 degrees. Temperatures vary a little depending on geothermal activity and weather.
The pools are both outside (the smaller pool is covered). Each night they are drained and scrubbed so chemicals are not needed to keep the water clean. Admission to the pools is included for inn guests or can be purchased by day visitors.
Outside food or beverages cannot be brought into the pool area, but lunch, dinner and drinks are available from the family-friendly Poolside Grille and Saloon. There is also a walk-up bar window for those who like a cold brew or bloody Mary with their soak.
There isn’t a lifeguard on duty, and children must be accompanied by an adult. Locker rooms including showers, changing areas, and lockers are located in the pool area.
Chico Hot Springs Hours (Pools) and Fees
- Hours: you have access to the pool from 7AM-11PM daily
- Fees: Admission is included in the lodging fee
- Hours: 8AM-11PM daily
- Fees: Adults $8.50, Seniors 65+ and Kids 3-6: $3.50, Children 2 & under soak free
Insider’s tip: Bring your own pool toys or purchase balls, noodles, and floaties at the gift shop or the Poolside Grille.
Find other Montana Hot Springs in Touring Hot Springs Montana and Wyoming.
Chico Hot Springs Restaurant
The exceptional food in the Chico Dining Room is a combination of locally grown (on the premises in a garden and geothermally-heated greenhouse) and fine food. The steaks are generous, the seafood is flown in fresh, and all of the baking is done on the premises. What’s more, Chico boasts one of the region’s finest wine lists. The Sunday brunch (8:30-11:30 a.m.) draws diners from around the state and around the world. My favorite thing on the Chico Hot Springs menu is the flaming orange, but everything I’ve had is delicious.
For casual food, Percie’s Poolside Grille hits the spot. Pizza, burgers, ribs, salads, and burritos fill the bellies of soakers, families, and recreationists as they overlook the pools. It’s one of the few places in Montana where you won’t get any strange looks for wearing a swimsuit at the table.
Every Friday and Saturday night, the Chico Saloon hosts some of the best bands in the region. Guests looking to two-step, Western swing, or to simply boogie down, will love dancing on the wooden dance floor. When the band isn’t playing, a pool table, foosball, shuffleboard, and televisions entertain the crowd. Food from the Poolside Grille can be ordered at the bar. Check out the Chico Hot Springs music schedule here.
Chico Hot Springs Spa
If soaking in mineral springs and eating great food isn’t relaxing enough, take advantage of Chico’s Day Spa. Massage, geothermal therapy, herbal wraps, and scrubs top the list of ways to beautify and revitalize at Chico Day Spa.
Insider’s tip: Make your spa reservation when you book your room—spots fill up fast as this is one of the more popular Montana getaways.
Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing Near Chico Hot Springs
Rent snowshoes from Rockin’ HK Outfitters in the Horse Barn. They also offer guided cross-country skiing and snowshoeing day trips in Yellowstone National Park.
If you don’t need a guide, take advantage of the Absaroka Mountain scenery and head out on your own. There are plenty of trails ideal for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Just beyond Chico, in Old Chico, the snow-covered dirt road winds up Emigrant Canyon. A gradual uphill climb follows Emigrant Creek upstream. Other Nordic skiing options in the area include the trails and roads in the nearby Mill Creek drainage and Big Creek Trail across the Paradise Valley.
Insider’s Tip: Montana is a cross-country skiing paradise. See some of the other Nordic Ski Trails in Montana here.
Horseback Riding at Chico Hot Springs
Yes, even in winter you can ride through the mountains on the back of one of Chico’s trusty steeds or in a horse-drawn carriage. The Horse Barn is home to a herd of well-trained horses and mules. Even if you aren’t up for a ride, stop by the corral to say hello to Chico’s equine employees.
Rides last one, one and a half, or two hours. Or for those without fear of saddle sores—a half-day adventure. Trail rides take place around Chico or in Yellowstone National Park.
Chico Hot Springs Lodging
Chico Hot Springs offers a diverse selection of lodging, from quaint and cozy guest rooms in the turn of the century Chico Hot Springs Hotel Main Lodge to the luxurious North 40 Cabins, with a wide variety of modern accommodations in between.
Rustic cabins and the Fisherman’s Lodge dot the hillside and are ideal for romantic winter getaways, while the modern Lower Lodge is less than a minute’s walk to the Main Lodge and pool.
Chico’s most unusual accommodations are the Short Line Caboose 606, an actual caboose moved to the property and renovated in 2004, and the Conestoga covered wagons in the Cowboy Camp.
Find the best prices on hotels near Chico Hot Springs here. You can also stay at Sage Lodge, one of the best Pray Montana hotels, along with Chico, and use Chico’s facilities.