Hot Springs plus Music equals Paradise
by Pat Hill
Listening to live music and relaxing in natural hot springs may be counted among the finer things in life, and if you are lucky enough to be able to combine the two, the result can be paradise. Three such places can be found within 50 miles of Bozeman.
Chico Hot Springs in the Paradise Valley of the upper Yellowstone River is one destination where you can enjoy hot water, music and more. First developed into a destination resort around the turn of the 19th Century, and nestled up next to the Absaroka mountain range, Chico offered a perfect midway stop to visitors to and from Yellowstone Park. Historic Chico has two pools fed by natural hot springs open from 8 a.m. (7 a.m. for hotel guests)-11 p.m. daily, with temperatures averaging 97 degrees in the large pool and 103 in the smaller soaking pool. Chico also has a day spa that offers massage, mud wraps, salt scrubs and more. Resort guests can soak in the pools for free. There is a daily entry fee for non-hotel day guests.
There’s always a band playing at the Chico Saloon on Friday and Saturday nights, and when the music starts up on the stage, it beckons one to move from the nearby hot pool to the dance floor. Food like burgers and pizza can also be found at the bar as well as at Chico’s more family-friendly Poolside Grille, and Chico’s dining room has a reputation as one of the finest restaurants in the state. And after a day of soaking, dining and dancing, it’s nice to know you don’t have to drive anywhere with a bit of prior planning. Chico offers a variety of lodging options including rooms in the historic lodge, cottages, chalets, additional lodges, or you can rent one of the cabins for larger groups. You can even stay in an old train caboose. Calling for reservations (for lodging and the Dining Room) is highly recommended.
Much closer to Bozeman, paradise can also be found at “Rainbow Land,” a title once sported by the Bozeman Hot Springs resort just west of Bozeman. Bozeman Hot Springs has morphed several times since the late 19th Century, when its natural spring waters first began to be utilized in a paying manner. Having just undergone some of the most drastic reshaping of its history, Bozeman Hot Springs currently has nine different pools fed by natural hot springs with temperatures ranging from 59-106 degrees. The recently renovated resort also offers a spa and massage center, two steam rooms, a fitness gym, tanning rooms, a juice bar, and full daycare facilities. But for the lover of hot water and live music, the crowning gem on this facility lies with the three new outdoor pools fronted by a well-designed, elevated wood and stone stage. The three outdoor pools feature temperatures of 88, 92 and 96 degrees respectively, and are arranged artfully among boulders and fire pits, surrounded by a low rock and cement wall with fire coming out of the top. Live bands play the outdoor stage on Thursday and Sunday evenings. It’s quite a change from the old Bozeman Hot Springs resort, and a very special place to enjoy a soak and a band.
About thirty miles west of Bozeman, Norris Hot Springs offers also hot springs enthusiasts the opportunity to listen to live music without getting out of the water.
At Norris, there is live music poolside every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Musicians perform in a geodesic dome located next to the pool, which allows the bands to play under a shelter in the winter time, yet can still be heard from the pool and deck. The 30-by-40-foot pool (which stays around 101 in the sweet spots) is lined with locally milled fir planks. The hot springs itself is located under the pool, and the hot spring water bubbles up through the planked pool flooring.
Norris Hot Springs also has a covered patio area with tables and plenty of seating, and a grill serving up beef burgers, bison burgers, bratwursts, steaks, salads and other items which are all locally sourced. They even have their own onsite garden which provides most of the produce served. Norris also offers beer, wine and champagne. RV and tent camping is also available seasonally at this hot springs. Norris has gone from a bath for dirty miners in the 19th Century to a hangout for college students and locals not averse to occasional nudity in the 20th Century, to a unique watery outdoor music venue in the 21st.
All three of these destinations offer reasonable rates (under $10 for adults, with discounts for children and seniors) and are within easy driving distance of Bozeman. For information regarding hours, costs, live music schedules, menus and more, visit chicohotsprings.com, norrishotsprings.com and bozemanhotsprings.com