Across the globe, hot springs bring peace and tranquility and are a symbol of cleansing health. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina’s only hot spring resort is in a town called Hot Springs. Who would have thought you would find Hot Springs in NC Mountains let alone in the southeastern United States?
If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, a romantic getaway in the mountains, or to experience the peacefulness of a hot spring, this is the perfect place to be. When you think of hot springs, it’s usually out west; it’s amazing to find natural hot springs in North Carolina!
At Hot Springs Resort and Spa, you will be able to have the ultimate relaxing experience, all while having some spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Plus, the hot springs aren’t the only activity around!
Continue reading to learn more about the area, its history, the springs themselves, and other outdoor adventures you can have.
History of Hot Springs NC
Before the British, or any other European settler ever came to the Appalachian mountains, Native Americans roamed the lands and called it their home. They were the ones who first found the springs, nestled along the banks of Spring Creek and the French Broad River in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
They called them “healing waters”. The Native Americans held many spiritual ceremonies in this area, just 5 miles down the road at “Paint Rock”. “Paint Rock” is where you can find North Carolina’s best example of Native American pictographs, which can still be seen today.
The white settlers found the town in which the hot springs were located in the late 1700s and was quickly turned into a bustling town. A turnpike was built through Hot Springs which was the first major road connecting Tennessee and Kentucky to the rest of the East coast.
Many, many farmers, merchants, and traders came through Hot Springs (which were then called Warm Springs) and stopped at the hot springs while passing through. Hotels, railroads, and houses were built all over the town. In 1886, the Mountain Park Hotel was built when a much higher temperature spring was found; this also changed the town’s name from Warm Springs to Hot Springs.
During a fire in the 1920s, most of the town including the resorts and hotels, was burned. The area was almost forgotten. Today, while the town of Hot Springs itself only holds a little over 520 people, the area is still known for its beautiful springs and is a popular place for campers and outdoor enthusiasts.
Hot Springs Resort and Spa
Hot Springs Resort and Spa gives you access to the legendary healing spring. Located on 100 acres, the resort has jetted hot tub-style pools (the springs) overlooking the creek and the river.
Across from the mineral baths, you will find eight camping cabins and over 100 tent/RV campsites. There are bathrooms, hot showers, and large areas in which they host private events and parties. If you aren’t looking for a camping trip, don’t worry! You will find more options in Hot Springs, NC, lodging.
The resort also has four luxury suites all of which have jetted tubs with mineral water in the rooms. There is also a full-size deluxe cabin with outdoor tubs. This is a popular destination for Appalachian hikers to stop and take a relaxing break, vacationers looking for a great camping experience, or for some just wanting to take in the beauty of the springs!
Healing Springs in North Carolina
Hot springs have been used as healing water for centuries. Whether you are looking to relieve stress or to ease your tired mind, mineral springs will also ease muscle and joint stiffness and increase circulation and oxygen flow. They have been known for healing circulatory illnesses.
At Hot Springs Resort, jetted tubs are built into beautiful wooden decks. All hot tubs are full of natural, hot mineral water straight from deep inside the Earth. Your backdrop is the serene deep woods and bubbling creeks. Each hot tub is drained and sanitized after each use. At the resort, the baths are open for reservation 7 days a week, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
✅ Standard Mineral Baths
Jetted tubs situated on large open wooden decks. They hold up to 5 people and are reserved by the hour.
Before 6 pm (2 people) – $50.00 for 60 minutes
After 6 pm (2 people) – $60.00 for 60 minutes
Any additional person is an extra $10 per hour. Children under 12 are free.
✅ Deluxe Mineral Baths
Deluxe baths have creekside views, are situated under roofed decks, and have added privacy. These baths have an extended deck, a table, chairs, and a heater or a fan. These tubs hold 5 people and are reserved by the hour.
Before 6 pm (2 people) – $60.00 for 60 minutes
After 6 pm (2 people) – $70.00 for 60 minutes
Any additional person is $10 per hour. Children under 12 are free.
✅ Group Mineral Baths
There are two group baths on the property. These larger tubs hold up to 7 people and have beautiful views of the French Broad River or Spring Creek. They are located on large enclosed wooden decks, with privacy. Each tub is reserved by the hour.
Before 6 pm (7 people) – $90 for 60 minutes
After 6 pm (7 people) – $100 for 60 minutes
✅ Premium Tubs
For the most privacy, a large relaxing tub, and a propane fire bowl, you will love the premium tubs. The tubs include an on or off-deck private mineral shower.
These showers are seasonal and close on November 14th. The area also includes a large decking area with a table and chairs. The tubs hold a maximum of 4 people and are booked for 90 minutes. No children under 12.
Before 6 pm (2 people) – $120 for 90 minutes
Before 6 pm (4 people) – $150 for 90 minutes
After 6 pm (2 people) – $130 for 90 minutes
After 6 pm (4 people) – $160 for 90 minutes
✅ Signature Tubs
For the ultimate relaxation experience, get yourself a signature tub. Signature tubs feature a large cabana-style tub area with a sundeck, a private propane fire bowl, and a rainfall-style mineral water shower.
Robes, towels, and bottled water will be included with each stay at the signature tubs. Signature tubs hold up to 4 people, and no children under 12 are allowed.
Before 6 pm (2 people) – $150 for 90 minutes
Before 6 pm (4 people) – $180 for 90 minutes
After 6 pm (2 people) – 180 for 90 minutes
After 6 pm (4 people) – $210 for 90 minutes
Broadwing Farm Cabins
One more way to access the springs is by staying at the Broadwing Farm Cabins, they have three different cabins on their property that you can rent. Each cabin has its own private hot tub filled with only fresh mineral water from the well.
The water temperature coming out of the well is already 85 degrees, then they adjust the temperature to 100 degrees for your arrival. They accidentally discovered this hot spring when they were digging for a well on their farm.
The farm started off as an organic farm, they still grow food but it’s not the primary focus. They are situated on 85 acres with incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the French Broad River Valley for you to enjoy. You can book your cabin here.
There are 5 categories of tent sites, all include fire rings and picnic tables. You will also have access to heated restrooms and hot showers. All sites are booked with a two-night minimum.
Sites start at $45 a night, going up to $115 per night with more accommodations and riverside access. There are pet-friendly sites available.
There are 2 RV sites available. One is a 30 AMP full hook-up site, starting at $65 for 4 people. The other is a 50 AMP pull-through site that is best for large motorhomes, starting at $75 for 4 people. Both are pet-friendly sites.
There are 5 varieties of cabins available. The smallest cabins start at $95 a night for 4 people, and small pets are allowed. The most expensive cabin has its own outdoor jetted tub with only natural mineral water. These cabins start at $250 per night for 2 people, and pets are not allowed.
The suites are hotel, apartment-style rooms. 4 of the 6 rooms have private access to jetted mineral tubs. All rooms have small kitchenettes, TVs, and full bathrooms, and can sleep up to 4 people. Pets are not allowed in any of the suites. Suites start at $130 a night, going up to $250 a night for 2 people.
Things to do in Hot Springs NC
Hot Springs is a hub for outdoor activities. Since the town itself runs directly through the Appalachian Trail, the Hot Springs area is full of amazing hiking trails and great views. Hiking is one of the most popular activities, but it isn’t the only one. There is much more fun to be had.
1. Whitewater Rafting
The French Broad River is the main river that flows for over 100 miles through western North Carolina. It is a free-flowing river, meaning the level at which the river flows is determined by the amount of rainfall the area gets.
Whitewater rafting is a very popular water sports here and there are 3 main companies in the area that can take you on a whitewater rafting expedition.
2. Hot Springs Rafting Company
Based right out of Hot Springs, this company has a convenient location and great guides. They offer half-day guided tours, full-day guided tours, or unguided rentals. They also offer fun river tubing float trips!
Trips can be requested online by filling out a short form. The company will contact you afterward for all the information you need, including the price.
3. French Broad River Adventures – Whitewater Rafting
The French Broad River Adventures offers many adventures from whitewater rafting to zip lining and even canyoneering. They have locations in Hot Springs, and Marshall, NC.
They offer guided half-day trips, guided full-day trips, guided calm water trips (great for children and families), and rafting trip packages that include zip-lining or canyoneering adventures!
4. Blue Heron Whitewater
Blue Heron is a small business in Madison County, NC. They have been guiding people on whitewater rafting experiences for over 25 years and are a beloved company within the small community!
For any half-day, full-day, or scenic boat trip options, this will be an adventure you’ll never forget.
5. Zip Lining
There is no better way to immerse yourself in the forest than by gliding through the treetops on a zip line! French Broad Adventures canopy tours are an amazing experience that you will never forget.
Start with a ride from a UTV to get to the top of the tree line, where 10 cables are set up and ready for you to soar through. All gear, safety protocols, and basic techniques will be included in your trip.
6. Horseback Riding
Sandy Bottom Trail Rides is a secluded ranch that offers peaceful trail rides through the beautiful North Carolina mountains. They are very flexible with any of your needs.
There is no age limit, a weight limit of 250 pounds, and horses suited for riders with disabilities or no experience. Fun and relaxing trail rides are a great way to experience the forest and the beautiful scenery. Book yourself a one-hour, two-hour, or three-hour trail ride today!
Hiking near Hot Springs in NC Mountains
Of course, the most popular activity in the area is hiking. Hot Springs is located right on the Appalachian Trail, and many hikers stop in the town for rest and supplies.
Here are a few of the local’s favorite hiking trails in the area. In 2023, North Carolina is celebrating the “Year of the Trail”, make sure to check out all the amazing trails and greenways NC has to offer!
✅ Lover’s Leap Loop Trail
Lovers Leap Loop is one of the most popular trails in the area. It is a 1.8-mile loop that is part of the Appalachian Trail. The trail is considered to be moderate-difficult but has beautiful views of the French Broad River and the town.
It takes about an hour to finish and is a very popular biking trail. Dogs are welcome but must stay on a leash.
✅ Appalachian Trail: Hot Springs to Max Patch
For a much longer multi-day hike, this is a 19.1-mile hike that starts in Hot Springs, NC. It takes a little over 10 hours to get from point to point, so it’s very popular amongst backpackers, campers, and serious hikers.
It’s a popular trail during the warmer months with people hiking from the Appalachian Trail but gets much quieter during the colder seasons. Along this trail, you will find potable water spigots and camping shelters that are well-maintained. The best views are at the end of the trail in Max Patch.
✅ Rich Mountain Tower
Rich Mountain Tower is a great day hike, that is a little over 5 miles. It takes about 3 hours to complete and starts near Hot Springs, NC.
This trail is well-known for having an old fire tower that supplies some of the most amazing 360-degree views of the mountains and the surrounding area.
It’s considered slightly challenging for those who aren’t used to hiking. Be sure to visit during the fall to get some of the best foliage sights!
✅ Pump Gap Loop
The Pump Gap Loop trail is a wonderful trail great for those looking for a good workout! The trail is considered challenging, as the first mile is a gradual uphill, and the second mile is almost straight uphill.
In total, the trail is 3.9 miles and takes a little over 2 hours to finish. Those who hike it regularly recommend bringing hiking poles. There is a campground near the beginning of the trail (the Silvermine campground). Pump Gap is known for being a great fall hike!
✅ Betty Place Trail
If you are looking for a short, easy hike, this is the perfect one for you. Betty Place Trail is a one-mile loop right around Hot Springs, NC. It takes only about half an hour to complete. This is a very popular trail for joggers and dog walkers.
If you have small children, this would be a great trail to bring them on. If you are visiting after a rain storm, bring your rain boots! It gets pretty muddy on this trail.
Nearby Lodging for Hot Springs in NC Mountains
Apart from Hot Springs Spa, there are a ton of other beautiful campgrounds and lodging areas for everyone to stay in.
From places that are perfect for hiker hostels to places for those looking for romantic getaways, you’ll be sure to find something gorgeous to stay in.
✅ Creek Ridge Campground
Creek Ridge Campground is a popular, inexpensive campground that offers tent sites, car camping, glamping, and cabins. This is a pet-friendly area and is perfect for a weekend getaway.
They are currently redesigning their camping areas in 2023; the cabins are the only places open. Check back in later for more information!
✅ Rocky Bluff Campground (Pisgah National Forest)
Open from May-Through September, offers some very quiet, peaceful, back-to-nature camping. Just 3 miles south of Hot Springs.
There is a 1.2-mile trail that loops around the campground and partly follows the small stream bordering the area. It is an excellent spot for fishing.
Campsites are $15.00 a night, and available for reservation only. This is a popular little area during the summer, so book in advance!
✅ Paint Rock Farm
On 162 acres, and right on the French Broad River, the owners of Paint Rock Farm have made it their mission to combine the harmony of nature with comfortable hospitality.
There are 10 three-season glamping cabins all with pristine views, and luxurious decor to make your stay as comfortable as can be. For a peaceful weekend getaway or a romantic trip with a loved one, this is a beautiful place to visit.
Paint Rock Farm is also a popular place for big events such as weddings, retreats, and elopements. This past year, they held a large festival-type live music gathering that included food, and fun for the whole family! Keep your eyes open for any more events they may have in the feature.
✅ Laughing Heart Lodge and Hotel
The Laughing Heart Lodge was built where the original Mountain Magnolia Inn once stood in the early 1800s. You will find a hotel and hostel here.
It is a popular place for trail hikers to stop and rest, as it’s located right at the trailhead at the Southern end of Hot Springs, NC, and it is the first building that any hikers will see as they come into town.
The hostel was built in 1974 to accommodate hikers with 7 rooms, one semi-private room, and 2 bunk rooms, all with private bathrooms and with a communal kitchen area. Showers are still available for non-guests.
The land on which the hotel is built is used as private venue rentals and many people book the land for retreats, weddings, and parties. The owners of the hotel, who named it “Laughing Heart,” strived to provide a place for healing, hope, rest, and renewal. Laughing Heart has a great selection of books about Hot Springs and the surrounding area and its history.
✅ Iron Horse Station
Situated directly on the Appalachian Trail in downtown Hot Springs, the Iron Horse Station has been a landmark of the town since the 1800s. Newly restored in 2006, the hotel is a great place for hikers to stop and get a simple cozy room.
There is also a casual restaurant located in the hotel that wraps around Iron Horse Stations’ monumental fireplace.
For tourists or visitors looking for a glamping experience, the Iron Horse Station also offers a glamping stay in a covered wagon! There are two available and make for a unique experience right on the French Broad River.
✅ Hot Springs Log Cabins
Hot Springs Log Cabins is a private 11-acre farm with five stunning log cabins. Each cabin has its private hot tub and jaw-dropping view of the mountains. Each cabin has its theme available for you to pick out which one fits you the best.
The cabins include Hound Heaven Cabin (pet friendly), Oak Cabin (the best couples cabin), Paw Print Cabin (pet friendly with a fenced-in yard), Holly Cabin (pet friendly with two porches and wood views), Pine Cabin (pet friendly with wood views).
Hot Springs Log Cabins are very popular for romantic getaways, dates, or simple, peaceful vacations, and you should book far in advance!
This beautiful area around Hot Springs, North Carolina, has brought people in from far and wide to appreciate and enjoy the stunning nature that the area holds. For centuries, people have been brought together to enjoy the fresh mineral-rich waters or to take on the beauty brought by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
There is no lack of adventure and fun to be had here! For your next family adventure, or perhaps your next much-needed vacation, plan a trip to Hot Springs in NC mountains today. It’s becoming a popular tourist destination.