While preparing for my trip to Montana, I heard Boiling River Hot Springs is the ultimate place to soak in Yellowstone National Park. It’s a spot where a roughly 125-degree underground spring hits the frigid water of the Gardner River, allowing bathers to relax in a natural hot tub.
Winter is the perfect time to visit the hot springs because there are fewer crowds. In fact, I was afraid no one would be there when I arrived to photograph the natural wonder, so I arranged to meet Scott Hoeninghausen and Suzann Lankford, two locals who live and work in the area.
When Scott got out of his truck he immediately said, “This is one of my favorite spots in all of Yellowstone.” According to him, we had chosen the best time of year to be there.
We walked to the river’s edge, shed our warm outer clothes, and stepped into the incredibly cold Gardner River. I knew that I would not have the luxury of submerging myself in the warmer water downstream so I entered the water in a bathing suit while still wearing a shirt and down vest.
Photo tip: There was no way to carry a camera bag into the water so I chose one camera body with a 20-35 mm zoom lens attached. The scene had a good mix of light and dark areas so I relied on the camera’s exposure with no compensation. After taking a few shots I realized that if I didn’t frame the picture right, it wouldn’t show the must-see landscape here in winter. The immense pile of frozen mist on the rocks solved that problem.
After taking several pictures of Scott and Suzann lounging comfortably in the hot springs, I found a safe spot to put down my camera and jacket and joined them in the warm water.