by Nathan Boddy
After 30 years of owning and operating Lost Trail Hot Springs, co-owner Stann Honey says that he is glad that things have worked out. Located equidistant from Sula and Lost Trail Ski Area, the longstanding hot springs have been a favorite stopover for decades, beginning long before the convenience of Highway 93.
Honey has owned the hot springs with his mother, Mary Dell, since February of 1993, and points out that Lost Trail Hot Springs is currently the only hot springs in the Bitterroot Valley which remains open to the public. Keeping it open and running has taken substantial effort from day one. According to Honey, a previous party had undertaken the purchase of the hot springs before he and Dell were successful, but made a hasty retreat when the winter set in.
“They came here in the summer and thought life was great,” says Honey of the previous buyers, explaining that they’d had a change of mind when the reality of running a hot springs in rural Montana became evident.
“They said, ‘heck with this’, and just left,” leaving behind a disaster of frozen and broken pipes.
With the pipes in functional order, Lost Trail Hot Springs enjoys 150 gallons per minute of 107 degree water straight from the earth, channeled into an inviting pool and nearby hot tub.
“Our pool is under 100 degrees,” says Honey, adding that the comparative cooler temperature for the large pool makes it a great place for kids, since state law doesn’t allow children under the age of 5 into the really hot water. “We get a lot of families,” he says.
Skiers are another regular visitor to the hot springs, warming their bones after a day of poaching some of Lost Trail’s famous powder. While the kitchen at the hot springs is closed due to the same staffing issues that plague most of the valley, Honey says that a lot of enterprising skiers/soakers will set up their BBQ grills in the parking lot and make an evening of it, which he welcomes.
Honey says they have tried to keep the nature of the historical hot springs relatively constant, but he does foresee some changes with the pool and hot tub in the future. At present, the resort still has an overall capacity of 125 people between 10 cabins, 8 motel rooms and a lodge capable of housing 42 people. In a nod to the Corps of Discovery, which famously passed over Lost Trail Pass in 1805, all of the cabins bear names from that historical event.
“We wanted to keep it as much as possible the way it is,” says Honey.
In recognition of their 30 years of operation, usage of the hot springs will be half priced on February 3rd.
More information can be found on their website: https://www.losttrailhotsprings.com.