I was fascinated by the wood bottom of the large soaking pool at Norris Hot Springs. Convinced at first that I would get splinters, then soothed by the feel of the mineral water treated planks on the bottoms of my feet. It was just one of many small touches that add up to make Norris a big experience for hot spring lovers.
Set on the side of the road about 45 minutes away from Bozeman in the town of Norris, the site offers not only hot spring soaks, but also camping, live music and one of the coolest snack bars that you can imagine all revolving around the classy wood soaking pool that is big enough for 50 people to soak comfortably.
We went to soak on a Sunday morning during the Christmas holiday break. There were about 35 people in the pool at 10:30am and the snack bar was already serving up beer, wine and cider that could be consumed while you were enjoying your soak. They were also pushing out pizza, and a variety of other snacks from a small kitchen area that prides itself on sourcing almost exclusively local ingredients. They tend a large garden onsite and call themselves the 50 Mile Grill because almost everything they serve comes from within 50 miles of Norris.
The water was warm and cozy on the chilly morning. Shower heads sprayed cold water into the pool on one side for folks who wanted to cool themselves off in a poor man’s version of a cold plunge. A large dome sits just above the pool and serves as the stage for live music in the Summer months. It was easy to imagine that deer or even elk would be sighted regularly on the hillside across from the soaking pool during the early evening hours.
The only cons we could find on our relaxing morning soak was the families who choose to eat pizza and popsicles in the pool, rather than stepping out to one of the poolside tables. Not a huge deal, but it was easy to imagine that a stray floating pepperoni could be detrimental to the healing experience of soaking in the “water of the gods” as they call it in Norris. The 34,000 gallon pool is drained and refilled nightly, so at least the floating pepperoni will be a fresh one if you happen to come across it.
Norris Hot Springs traces its roots back to the mining operations of the 1860s. A long and colorful history that includes clandestine soaking, nudie nights, and now live music and camping surrounds the place and sets the venue apart from other more commercial hot spring experiences. You can learn more about the history and current operations at Norris at norrishotsprings.com.