Idaho’s Maple Grove Hot Springs is re-emerging as an off-grid retreat center
By Jared Blackley
Maple Grove Hot Springs looks a lot different today than it did when Jordan Menzel was first introduced to the place, just over a year ago. After years of use and neglect, the buildings and grounds were in urgent need of attention.
In spite of the work that would be required, Menzel said, “the pools and the views were still immaculate. Even as a dump, there was something really magical about this place. This place was just one of those rare, special nuggets.”
He was not the only one to think so. For centuries, the Shoshone used this area along the Bear River, with its large presence of geothermal activity, as part of their winter quarters. When Charles Hopkins homesteaded the land in the early 20th century, he built a couple of rounded soaking pools and a larger pool for swimming near the northern shores of what is now the Oneida Narrows Reservoir, including one pool specifically for the Shoshone, as racial segregation was still very much a reality.
Today, the site has three rounded hot pools that average between 104 and 109 degrees and one larger recreational pool that averages between 85 and 100 degrees. From these pools, the views are sublime. Dense forests of Rocky Mountain juniper, maple and scrub oak line the hills for miles. Because of its remote location, the stars in the night sky are on full display. It is an ideal place to soak in mineral-filled waters, relax and recharge.
When Menzel tried to return a month after his first visit, the hot springs had been closed indefinitely. When it went up for sale shortly afterwards, he saw an opportunity. He and four other partners ended up buying the place and immediately began restoration projects to make the site operable. The hot springs re-opened earlier this summer.
“This place has seen a lot of turnover over the years,” Menzel says. “It is our goal to stop that cycle. Twenty years from now, I’d like this place to have accomplished some great things for the area and for the people who have come here.”
The idea is to run the business without having a negative impact on the land—to create a space of solace and calm. To that end, Menzel says, “[Maple Grove] is a fully off-grid retreat center that is designed to get people out into a remote setting in a comfortable way and to totally unplug. There is no cell service. There is no Wi-Fi. We explicitly don’t offer those things. We are re-naturalizing this place as much as possible.” He envisions the site to be a place of tranquility, where people who might otherwise be daunted by camping or staying in such a remote location can still feel comfortable.
There are glamping options, including two yurts and a small cabin open year-round, as well as six round canvas bell tents that are open during the warmer months. All are furnished. There are also three designated tent campsites and two sites that can support a van or small camper.
Several canoes and paddle boards can be taken out on the reservoir during the summer months. Visitors are advised to bring their own food, as only snacks are available at the River House at this point, but the site should have a farm-to-table café open by next summer.
The hot springs hosts yoga, fitness and corporate workshops and retreats, as well as group experiences, such as small weddings or family and friend get-togethers. In order to provide a tranquil experience, however, only a small number of people are allowed in per day. Showing up without a reservation, even for daily use, is discouraged, as you might be turned away.
“We have tried to be very clear about what type of experience you can and can’t expect at Maple Grove,” Menzel says. If you want somewhere to drink a few beers and get a little raucous, Maple Grove is not the place for you. The experience Menzel and his team hope to provide is one of quiescence, of being connected to the elements, where the natural rhythms of the hot springs and surrounding area help allay the stresses and anxieties of daily life.
Maple Grove Hot Springs
11386 Oneida Road
Getting There In Winter: From Preston, take State Road 34 for 22 miles to 13800 North in Thatcher. Take an immediate right onto North Maple Grove Road and drive for 3.3 miles to Maple Grove Hot Spring.
In Summer: From Preston, take State Road 34 for 5.5 miles, then turn right onto State Road 36. Drive for 13 miles and then turn left on to the Maple Grove Hot Springs Road. Take this dirt road for approximately 2 miles before making a sharp left turn to Maple Grove Hot Springs.