Native American people have used the springs for healing for centuries. It was a common place shared by many nations. Settlers started living here in the mid-1800s. Some buildings in the downtown date from the early 1900s.
The core of the town is small, laid out along the Portneuf River, which flows westwards from the Portneuf Range to the east, through town, and onwards to join the Snake River near Pocatello. US Highway 30 runs east-west to the north of the town and the river.
Most visitors will drive in along US 30.
The main part of the town is compact and easily walkable. To get out of town requires a private auto. There is no city bus service.
Bathing in geologically-heated mineral springs has been an attraction here since before the settlers arrived. In addition to some private mineral baths in hotels, there are two public areas for hot springs and bathing.
- 1 Swimming pools and water park, 195 N. Center, ☏ , toll-free: . Mid-May to Labor Day: outdoor and indoor, daily 11AM-8PM; other seasons: indoor, F 5-8PM, Sa noon–8PM, Su noon–5PM, M–Th closed; outdoor closed. An outdoor Olympic Swimming Complex, open during the summer, has a lap pool, water slides, and diving platforms as high as 10 m. An indoor water park, open year round, has a 25-m lap pool, a kiddie swim play area, a 1-m springboard, and a natural hot pool. Adult summer: F–Su, holidays $10, M–Th $7.50; winter $5.
- 2 Lava Hot Springs Mineral Pools, 430 East Main Street (4 blocks east of the swimming pool), ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. May-Sep: daily 8AM–11PM; Oct-Apr: Su–Th 9AM–10PM, F Sa 9AM–11PM. Five pools with naturally hot mineral spring water, at temperatures from 102–110°F (39–43°C). Open year-round; snow on the pool deck is no problem! Adult: M–Th $6, F–Su holidays $10.
The Portneuf Rapids are right in town. Despite some natural heating, the river originates from snowmelt. Riding the rapids, and the fairly calm stretch below, is cool and fun on a hot summer day. There are good put-in points on the north side of the river, along Main Street to US 30. The Center Street bridge over the river is a good take-out point. Several vendors rent rafts for riding these rapids. Wet and happy youngsters carrying colorful rafts much larger than themselves are a common sight on the downtown streets in summer.
- 3 Portneuf River put-in spot (near the Riverwalk Café). Furthest upstream of the in-town put-in points for the Portneuf River rapids rafting.
- 4 Portneuf Rever take-out spot (just upstream of the Center Street bridge). Typical take-out point for rafting.
- 5 Portneuf Rapids Tube Rental (across the street from the Olympic Swimming Complex, in the grass), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Memorial Day–Labor Day: M–Sa 10AM–dark, Su closed; closed other seasons. Rent tubes sized for 1, 2, 3, or 4 people at the take-out point. Then walk upstream, put in, and enjoy the rapids. Flotation vests included. Since they are right next to the take-out point, it is less work to return the tube when you are done. $3/hour, $11/day.
- 6 TPD Tubes, 356 E. Main Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Memorial Day–Labor Day: daily 10AM-8:30PM; closed other seasons. Rent tubes sized for 1, 2, 3, or 4 people downtown. Then walk a short way upstream, put in, and enjoy the rapids. Flotation vests included. The website has a $1 off coupon valid M–Th. $5/hour, $15/day.
- 1 Sweet Stuff, 34 E Main, ☏ . Su–Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM. The perfect place on a warm summer's night: ice cream, plus all the colourful candy and lollipops the 8-year-old in you could want.
- 2 Portneuf Grille & Lounge, 255 Portneuf St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Su–Th 5:30–9PM, F Sa 5:30–10PM. The dining room, located in the hotel's old confectionery shop, offers Northwest-inspired steak and seafood, with some vegetarian and vegan dishes. The grille, in what used to be the carriage house, is a cozy place for a drink.
- 1 Riverside Inn, 255 East Portneuf Street, ☏ . Check-out: 11AM. This quaint hotel, built in the early 1900s, has four private hot springs rooms in the basement. Free wifi. The Portneuf Grille & Lounge is also in the basement. Continental breakfast option. about $150/night.
|Routes through Lava Hot Springs|
|Twin Falls ← Pocatello ←||W E||→ Soda Springs → Rock Springs|