Lava Hot Springs, Idaho: An Unintended Destination

Basically, we stopped because the Warp Machine displayed about a half-tank full of gas. The gas station ahead, a Flying J truck stop was just about the only sight within miles and thought, “OK, let’s fill up,  just to be safe.”

It’s July 4, midday and the day was getting a little hot. Not Arizona hot, but hot: around 90 degrees and 40 percent humidity.

We filled up with gas, got some snacks – and as we pulled out of this particular Flying J – about 75 miles north of the Utah border on I-15 – a sign ahead read: “Lava Hot Springs, 11 miles” pointing east, away from our current destination.

Susie and the kids excitedly exclaimed, “Let go see what’s there!”

Hoping to see REAL lava, I thought, “fine, what’s 11 miles.”

It turns out that Lava Hot Springs, aside from the natural hot springs in the area, is a small town famous for their 4th of July celebrations, among other things.

What luck! Sometimes you’ve got to leave it to fate to decide your destination, we all thought.

Lava Hot Springs, population: 450, elevation: 5,020′, sports a water park with gigantic slides, a 3-block classic downtown area with swanky pizza shop, ice-cream joints, restaurants, motels and tubing rental shops.

Portneuf river runs through Lava Hot Springs and it’s not surprising that tubing its rapids is a popular activity for everyone – all year round, apparently.

The locals are all very friendly and seem proud of their town’s tradition. Old Glory is displayed and celebrated on t-shirts, hats and tattoos. Also heavily on display it seems, an American favorite beer. We saw Budweiser-shaped aluminum cowboy hats and t-shirts and a lot of signs and posters of the stuff – I guess folks here really like their beer.

The town’s youth, however, reminded me that someone should write a book entitled, “Small-town youth boredom and rebellion”

Nevertheless, we decided stay! The Lava Hot Springs KOA had a sweet spot for our tent, right next to the river.

We took the kids to the water park, ate at the pizza joint and we watched the fireworks show launched above the town’s hill. An outstanding experience.

Memories of Lava Hot Springs will last forever.

Thank you fate.

Portneuf River’s rapids, a popular destination for tubers of all ages, runs through Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
Our Lava Hot Springs KOA Campground. The river flows behind our tent

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