Hot springs can only get busy if you’re lucky enough to visit when no one is there. Keep the following etiquette in mind so everyone has an enjoyable soak.
This point touches on the Leave No Trace principle. Avoid splashing around or partying in the hot springs if other people are there. It’s annoying for those who are soaking and can be dangerous.
The last thing you want to do is arrive at your hot spring destination and immediately start snapping photos. This can make others uncomfortable, especially if they are nude or children are in the background. Unless you are alone, it is better to wait until after everyone else heads home before you start your photoshoot.
Hot Springs are typically nestled in nature, so keeping your voice down is essential. Chatting loudly can cause others to lose focus on their soaking experience and become disruptive to everyone around you. You’re also less likely to enjoy birds chirping or water splashing if someone’s top 40 playlist blasts just feet away from you.
It is a good idea to arrive at your destination early and plan your soak. This will allow you to save time in line at admissions, sign the Iron Mountain Hot Springs waiver if necessary, and make the most out of your soaking window! Bring towels, swimwear, sunscreen, a hat, and drinking water. It’s essential to stay hydrated since hot springs dehydrate the body in next to no time.
Plan Your Soak
It’s always a good idea to bring a backpack to carry your towels, trash bags (make sure they’re biodegradable), extra water, and anything else you might need. Some hot springs may require fees, permits, or reservations, so check ahead to avoid unpleasant surprises!
If the hot springs are public, remember that it’s not your private tub and that others have just as much of a right to be there as you do. Be friendly and welcoming to anyone who joins your pool, and drop the entitled attitude!
While you’re soaking, remember that the temperature of the water can rise to boiling, and it only takes 10 seconds to get severe burns in hot springs. Also, be mindful of the water’s surface, and if you see locals actively cleaning or clearing the tubs, consider leaving them a tip! It helps them maintain these incredible public spaces for all to enjoy!
Leave No Trace
Whether you are a seasoned hot springs in Iceland explorer or planning your first soak, it is essential to remember that public lands are shared spaces, and it is not your private oasis. By adhering to the Leave No Trace principles, you can enjoy your time while minimizing your impact on other visitors.
Dogs are not allowed in many hot springs and even those that enable them to should be leashed so that their fur and waste don’t contaminate the water. Additionally, dogs run much more desirable than humans, so a comfortable temperature for you may be dangerously hot for your pup.
Be mindful of other people in the hot springs, and avoid blasting music or having loud conversations. This could be the difference between a peaceful soak or a less-than-enjoyable experience for others. Stay hydrated as hot springs dehydrate you quickly, and drowning is a real risk.
Don’t Take Too Many Photos
Remember that it is a gift from the Earth when you are soaking in a natural hot spring. It’s essential to respect these sacred spaces by following hot spring etiquette. While it’s tempting to Instagram every nook and cranny, oversharing can increase the environmental impact and lead to overcrowded pools (which is no fun for anyone).
Some hot springs are on private land and require a permit, fee, or reservation to enjoy them. This is to help keep the human impact on a given site minimal. Before you visit, please research to ensure you know what fees are required and if there are any restrictions on the hot springs you plan to soak in.
While in the area, stroll through Hot Springs National Park and check out some of the most iconic bathhouses on Central Avenue, a.k.a. Bathhouse Row. Or head up to the Mountain Tower for a bird’s eye view of the town. Catch a Maxwell Blade Magic Show at the Malco Theatre if you’re craving something more whimsical.
Be Mindful of Others
Many hot springs are situated in secluded natural regions where wildlife is abundant. Being aware of their presence and keeping a safe distance is essential. Some of these animals may defecate near the pools, contaminating them and potentially dangerous for other bathers. Dogs should also be left at home or on a leash, as they can get super burnt in the hot water. They can also disturb the ecosystem and spread disease, such as red spider mite venom or amoebae.
Soaking in hot springs can provide numerous health benefits. They can soothe aching joints, increase circulation, and relieve arthritis pain. They can also contain beneficial minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, silica, and boron.
Soaking in a pristine natural environment like a mountain hot spring is a truly life-changing experience, so be mindful of others around you. Avoid blasting your top 40 playlist if it’s a serene and quiet place, and converse in a low voice to not disturb those enjoying the soak. Don’t remove rocks and other items from the area, as this can disrupt the ecosystem and potentially cause injury to yourself or other visitors.