STAYCATION: Miracle Hot Springs

I wasn't sure whether to qualify this is a staycation or an Idavation, as Miracle Hot Springs is near Hagerman, and it only takes about 1.5 hours to get there from Boise. You can easily go for a day trip, but I highly recommend getting the full experience (not to mention, getting the hell outta town) by staying a night. Or two. I had heard nothing but great things about this private little retreat spot and was thrilled to hear that my dad had booked our Pence Family Reunion there last month.

As you can see, we brought littles galore with us, not to mention just about as many adults. The hot springs site not only boasts some killer hot pools, but 5 domes of various sizes to rent. They are similar to a yurt and run from only $39-$64 a night, which is a fabulous deal. Everyone shares the bathroom/changing room at the hot springs and there are no showers. Our group occupied 3 of the domes over the course of one weekend. They vary in size and sleeping options (ours had a queen bed and some of the others have numerous sleeping pads), but they all have a fan and a space heater to accomodate the seasons.

The largest dome not only acted as an event space for us, with large tables and a fridge, but was also sleeping quarters for about 15 of my relatives.
Miracle Hot Springs has two fabulous hot springs pools that are attached, one hotter than the other. They are open until 11pm, and night swimming was a hoot. There are also around 20 private hot tub rooms that surround the larger pools which you can rent by the hour for around $6. This is a real treat, and my stepmom and I spent a great evening in one chatting over a bottle of red wine.

Being it was a family reunion, we had lots of fun activities planned, which included a lot of watching the alligators that live on site. Yes, I just wrote THE ALLIGATORS THAT LIVE ON SITE. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with how in the world alligators got to this part of Idaho, but there are several private alligator swamps and they even serve alligator bites on the appetizer menu at Hagerman's Snake River Grill. Anyhow, the kids loved them (the live ones, that is) and were very concerned when Lucy's red styrofoam ball accidentally got tossed in the pit.
We played lots of games, including frisbee, softball and a strange strength pulling game with a broom handle. My aunt Dana also brought lots of fun family-friendly activities, including this cute alligator pinata, which was a big hit.

The hot springs offers these carts to guests to load in and out their bbqs, tents, luggage, etc. and our kids, of course, used them as go carts to race down hills and loved being pulled around the campground by the adults. You can also see the fire pit in this photo, which is shared by all the domes on site and was great in the cool mornings at breakfast time and was great for smore-making in the evenings.

We stopped back at Miracle Hot Springs to go swimming on a more recent camping trip. I has just sprained my elbow in a silly bicycle accident and I tell you, it's no wonder those are called miracle waters. They are warm and soothing and not only a terrific and inexpensive place for families, but also an ideal spot for a romantic getaway for two. In fact, I'm already scheming a night there sans babies as I write.