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Hot Springs in Missouri You Need to Check Out

Missouri is home to more than 4,400 natural springs, including some of the largest in the country. However, there are a few things that need to be clarified about the prevalence of hot springs in Missouri.

Despite what you may have heard, there are, unfortunately, no hot springs in Missouri.

If you’re curious about where that rumor comes from, just on the other side of Missouri’s Ozarks is Hot Springs, Arkansas, a small city outside of Little Rock that does actually contain thermal springs. A drive over to Hot Springs is a standard day trip for Missourans, hence the confusion around whether or not there are actually hot springs (as in thermal springs) in Missouri.

It’s also common for folks to use hot springs and mineral springs interchangeably. And while the number of hot springs in Missouri is lacking, mineral springs are abundant!

Though there are technically no hot springs in Missouri, there are some beautiful freshwater springs that are hot spots for nature lovers. Keep reading to learn more about the “hot” springs in Missouri!

hot springs in missouri

The Biggest Hot (Spot) Springs in Missouri

1. Big Spring, Van Buren

In case it wasn’t apparent from the name, Van Buren’s Big Spring is the largest natural spring in Missouri.

On average, 286 million gallons of water flow through the first-magnitude spring each day, putting it in contest with Idaho’s Snake River Spring and Florida’s Silver Spring for the biggest spring in the whole country.

Underground, tributaries from as far as 45 miles away carry water to Big Spring, moving tons of sediments and minerals with it.

This subsurface water system has carved out intricate caverns in the bedrock and would reveal an amazing cave system were the spring to dry up.

The Big Spring itself is nestled within the grounds of the former Big Spring State Park, Missouri’s first-ever state park. It sits pretty amongst the bluffs, framed by the Current River Valley.

In 1969, the whole of the park was incorporated into Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

When you visit the spring, you can also camp, enjoy the picnic area and dining lodge, or go for a nice day hike. There are sites for tent camping and electric hookups for RVs.

2. Greer Spring, Mark Twain Forest

Second in size only to Big Spring, Greer Spring is also a first-magnitude spring whose runout is so vast it could be mistaken for a river.

As a part of the Mark Twain National Forest, the beauty of Greer Spring is easy to access and behold for yourself.

However, no matter how tempted you may be once you catch a glimpse of the clear, blue water, you cannot swim in Greer Spring. Boating and fishing are also totally off-limits.

The ecosystem is fragile, and the natural landscape can be dangerous depending on the rainfall and fullness of the spring, so those regulations are in place for good reason!

In fact, the spring is so strong that several mills have been built at the location over the years to harness its power. Greer Spring has two converging sources, an upper and lower outlet.

Greer Spring was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark in 1980 and remains a very special attraction in Mark Twain Forest.

The spring’s natural environment is humid and lush, adorned with blankets of ferns and mosses dotted with pops of hydrangea and columbine.

Though it’s not the biggest, Greer Spring is undoubtedly one of the most magical springs in all of Missouri.

3. Bennett Spring, Lebanon

And sliding into third place for the largest spring in Missouri is Lebanon’s Bennett Spring.

Unlike Greer Spring, Bennett Spring is a fishing hub and has been for generations.

The 100 million gallons of water that flow through the spring are home to an abundance of trout, making the spot a massive draw for fishermen.

In the mid-1800s, Bennett Spring was used to power different kinds of mills, particularly flour mills.

The first and most successful mill was built in 1846 by a descendent of the Bennetts, a local settler family that gave the spring itself its name.

As farmers and traders waited for their grain to be ground by one of the many mills in the spring’s early settled history, they took to hunting, fishing, and camping, giving the area the reputation it still maintains now.

By the early 1900s, the Missouri Fish Commissioner was introducing mountain trout by the thousands into Bennett Spring and its stream.

In the 1930’s, the state purchased the whole area, officially designating it as a state park.

Remnants of this original assimilation are still alive in the park today in the infrastructure built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Alongside the camping, hiking, nature centers, lodging, and dining opportunities, Bennett Spring also has a fly fishing school for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about the pastime that colors so much of the region’s history.

hot springs in missouri

The “Hottest” Springs in Missouri’s Ozarks

4. Maramec Spring, St. James

If you’re looking for a spot in the Ozarks to visit with the whole family, look no further than Maramec Springs.

Tucked away in Maramec Spring Park, the spring itself is surrounded by over 1,800 acres of forest, 200 of which are designated for public use.

There, you can find cafes, stores, playgrounds, and bathrooms, as well as spots for camping, picnicking, and wildlife viewing.

Of the tree-shaded 58 campsites along the Maramec River, 30 offer electric hookups for RVs. The campground is safely gated and open for most of the year.

But the biggest draw of Maramec Spring Park is, of course, the spring itself. Maramec Spring is first-magnitude and stocked with rainbow trout by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Trout fishing season is from March to October, and catch-and-release-only fishing starts in November.

And if you’re a spontaneous visitor and don’t have a fishing permit on hand, you can get one on-site as well as any fishing supplies you might need.

Don’t forget your quarters – you can feed the fish at the hatchery, too!

5. Roaring River Spring, Cassville

Though not one of the biggest springs in Missouri in terms of output, Roaring River Spring might be the deepest.

Forget just Missouri – though it’s hard to say for sure, its depth of 472 feet might make Roaring River Spring one of the deepest springs in the whole country.

Most of these Missouri springs are renowned for their trout fishing, but few compare to Roaring River Spring, which contains one of the premier trout fisheries in the United States.

For trout fishers, Roaring River Spring is one of Missouri’s hot springs, stocked full of trophy trout.

But if fishing isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty to do in the surrounding park. Winding trails weave through stunning natural scenery, with many different lodging options to extend your stay.

6. Blue Spring, Eminence

Blue Spring, another particularly deep Missouri spring, is aptly named. The stark blue color of the cool, clear water is striking, making the spot incredibly photogenic.

If its color wasn’t enough to draw you in, the surrounding karst scenery might be. Hiking Blue Spring Trail gives you an excellent survey of the wilderness surrounding the spring and will lead you right to its namesake.

The foliage around the spring is vibrant, too, as if inspired by the water’s unusually blue shade.

So unusual, in fact, that Indigenous people native to the area first named the spring “The Spring of the Summer Sky.”

In order to preserve Blue Spring’s natural beauty, swimming, wading, and fishing are all off-limits.

As far as nature photographers are concerned, Blue Spring may as well be a hot spring in Missouri and is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in the whole state.

7. Ha Ha Tonka Spring, Camdenton

Don’t be fooled, Ha Ha Tonka Spring is no laughing matter. The whole area is a geologic obstacle course adorned with sinkholes, bluffs, and castle ruins.

Just off the Lake of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka Spring is another first-magnitude spring caged in my Missouri’s signature karst landscape.

The whimsical name comes from the Indigenous Osage people, meaning “laughing water,” potentially referring to the spring’s powerful output.

But, another unique aspect of Ha Ha Tonka Spring could have also inspired the name.

Unlike the other “hot” springs in Missouri on this list, Ha Ha Tonka does not boast fresh, clear water.

The area is prone to acid rain, which gets absorbed and recycled into the water by the spring. The unstable makeup of the spring water creates cracks in the rocks that erode and bubble (or, for a more poetic description, giggle) over time.

This same water collects in Trout Glenn Pool. While the acidic water creates a gorgeous blue color, it’s not fit for swimming, drinking, or washing.

And, due to the fragile nature of the surrounding rock, it’s best not to tread all over the banks of spring anyway.

Another big draw of visitors to the area and a must-see spot if you come to check out Ha Ha Tonka Spring is the stone remnants of a castle from decades past.

However, be careful and mindful! The journey to the castle ruins consists of roughly 315 steps. As such, it’s not the best hike for little ones, older folks, or diversely abled people.

Thankfully, though, the castle sits atop a bluff, so you can still behold all its beauty from afar and avoid all those steps.

For more ways to get moving that don’t involve an uphill battle, the park around Ha Ha Tonka Spring contains more than 15 miles worth of hiking trails, including a boardwalk around Trout Glenn Pool.

hot springs in Missouri

Wrapping Up the Guide to Hot Springs in Missouri

Though the springs in Missouri aren’t hot in temperature, they are certainly some hot spots to visit.

For a soak in some true hot springs, you’ll need to head a bit further west. But in the meantime, be sure to check out some of the country’s top natural springs, all located in Missouri!

They’re so cool, they’re hot!

For some information on actual hot springs, check out our Complete Guide to Natural Hot Springs.