Travelers have journeyed to the natural mineral hot springs about 36 miles north of Asheville since the late 1700s. Before that, the Cherokee Indians revered its magical, healing carbonated waters. Today, you can soak in the same water, naturally heated underground along a volcanic fault line to a perfect 98-102 degrees. Book an hour or two in a private tub by the French Broad River and watch your stress and fatigue melt away. It's located on the Appalachian Trail in the cool small village of Hot Springs.
Their 17 hot tubs are sanitized and refilled before each use. No man-made chemicals are added to the mineral-rich waters (see list below). They are open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. And they stay open until 10 PM on Sunday-Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday! Evening tubs book first, so book at least a week ahead if you want a particular time. All tubs are private, located in covered shacks scattered in the woods along the creek and river.
Located on the Appalachian Trail, the springs are a popular stop for through-hikers, especially in April and May. Before a soak, we love to take a short but scenic hike on the AT to Lover's Leap for fantastic mountain views. After any strenuous outdoor fun, these mineral waters ease the pain of sore muscles and joints. Pic above: View from Lover's Leap looking down at the Hot Springs Spa.
Tubs hold 1-5 people. For a couple, costs start at $42/hour for a standard tub and $52/hour for a deluxe tub with added privacy, top views, bigger deck, chairs, table and even a heater. Larger group tubs hold up to 7 people, starting at $65/hour. The locals' favorite is tub #5 on the tip of the peninsula at the intersection of the river and creek (pic above). Call them to book: 828-622-7676. Go to the Hot Springs Web site.
The mineral-rich water helps increase circulation and oxygen flow and helps most circulatory illnesses. Minerals include: Sulfate of Magnesia (muscle activity), bicarbonate of iron (anemia), alumina, chloride of potassium (nerves), sulphate of potassium (heart and digestion), chloride of sodium, and sulphate of lime (bone and tooth structure). You can also book a spa treatment before or after your soak. They also have a campground.
The hot spring has a fascinating history. Ask for their one-page overview. Numerous elaborate resorts were built here. During World War I, the Mountain Park Hotel housed 2,500 Germans (that hotel burned down in 1920). After that, it was even a Catholic retreat for a short while. During your visit, you can see the ruins of the last hotel that burned in 1977.
They are located on the Appalachian Medley Scenic Byway. Read more about things to do in the Town of Hot Springs and Madison County. Their park-like setting is home to special events, including the French Broad River Festival.
Address: 315 Bridge Street, Hot Springs, NC. Allow one hour to drive US 25 north from Asheville (36 miles) due to curvy mountain roads during the last part of the trip.