Hot springs don’t need to be large to be impressive. Some of the world’s most popular hot springs, such as Italy’s Terme di Saturnia, or Turkey’s Pamukkale Thermal Spring, are barely big enough to fit all the people who visit them.
Still, there’s something magical about looking at a vast geothermal pool. And the largest hot springs in the world are definitely cosmic in their size!
Interestingly, the largest hot spring in the world is not for soaking. But it’s still worth visiting just to bask in its size and beauty. Here are the world’s largest hot springs—check them out!
The Largest Hot Springs in the World
- Frying Pan Lake, New Zealand
- Boiling Lake, Dominica
- Grand Prismatic Spring, United States
- Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, United States
1. Frying Pan Lake, New Zealand
The biggest hot spring in the world is located in New Zealand, a country known for its wealth of geothermal landmarks. Frying Pan Lake is located in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley, which was formed during the country’s biggest volcanic eruption in 1886.
The destruction stemmed from earthquakes that struck the Rotorua area, which is renowned for its hot springs and mud baths. This led to the eruption of Mount Tarawera, and the evolution of Frying Pan Lake.
The Lake lies in a volcanic crater and spans 38,000 square meters (around 409,028 square feet), making it the biggest of its kind in the world.
However, despite the spring’s wide area, it is only around 18 feet deep in most sections. It is deeper at the vents, where it can be up to 60 feet deep.
Along with the destruction of several villages in the area, the eruption also wiped out the scenic Trinity Terrace, and Pink and White Terraces, which used to grace the surroundings. While these no longer exist, you can still see some colorful sinter terraces on the lake’s shore.
As you may have guessed from the name, Frying Pan Lake is not for soaking. The springs range from 110 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit (around 43 to 54 degrees Celsius) and can cause burns or can even be lethal.
However, the spring still attracts visitors from all over the world who arrive to simply take in the view.
The spring is also surrounded by other worthwhile attractions, including the nearby steaming Cathedral Rocks, which are believed to be composed of rhyolitic lava. The rocks are thought to be at least 60,000 years old.
You can also see the extinct Waimangu Geyser on the northeast shore of the lake, which once attracted tourists from all over the world as it was considered the most powerful geyser on the planet.
While the spring is too hot to soak in, it’s not actually boiling, as it appears from the steam gathered on the water’s surface. This is actually due to the bubbling of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide gasses from the water.
You can reach Frying Pan Lake by following the Waimangu Walking Track, which spans for 8 kilometers (around 4 miles) in total. There’s an entry fee to access the walking track, and shuttle buses are also provided to bring people from the lake’s edge back to the entrance.
The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley is located on New Zealand’s popular North Island, which is also home to major travel destinations like the capital city of Auckland and the geothermal haven that is Rotorua.
2. Boiling Lake, Dominica
The second-largest hot spring in the world is located in Dominica, a small island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. You can find the Boiling Lake in an area aptly known as the Valley of Desolation, in Morne Troi Pitons National Park.
It is 200 feet wide and, according to Discover Dominica, its true depth remains unknown.
Records show that the depth was first thought to be greater than 195 feet, however this changed when a geyser developed in the middle of the lake in the 19th century. The water level dropped in the 1980s and since then has returned to its normal position.
Like Frying Pan Lake, Boiling Lake features clouds of steam on its surface. It is not thought to be a volcanic crater, but rather a flooded fumarole through which gasses from the molten lava below can escape.
Water fills the fumarole from two small streams, as well as from rainfall, and when it seeps through to the lava below, it is heated to boiling point.
The trail to Boiling Lake leaves from the village of Laudat, and takes between three to four hours one way. The hike to Boiling Lake is well worth the energy but be warned that it does take a lot of effort. Local experts recommend hiring a guide to make the trek with you, as the terrain can be unpredictable.
In particular, there are sections of the trail that will have you walking along a thin ridge and other areas where you’ll be climbing over rocks. Guided walks also have the added benefit of knowledgeable leaders who can fill you in on the ins and outs of the local environment.
A Virtual Dominica recommends exercising extreme caution when looking below at the lake from above, as the sides of the hill are steep and slippery.
Boiling Lake was first sighted in 1870 by Mr. Watt and Dr. Nicholls, who was working in Dominica. Upon investigation, they found that the water temperature was between 180 and 197 degrees Fahrenheit (82 to 91 degrees Celsius) around the perimeters, however, they could not measure the temperature at the center of the lake, which was literally boiling.
The third-largest hot spring in the world also happens to be one of the most famous. Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is located in Yellowstone National Park, which stretches across Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana in the U.S.A.
Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the park’s most alluring landmarks thanks to its rainbow color scheme.
The variation in colors of the spring occurs because the water features several different temperatures as it gets closer to the center. At those differing temperatures, different kinds of bacteria can survive, which causes the water to take on different colors. The rich blue color in the middle of the spring, on the other hand, is an optical effect.
Located in Yellowstone’s Midway Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Hot Spring has a diameter of 370 feet and its temperatures range from 145.4 to 188.6 degrees Fahrenheit (293.7 to 371.4 degrees Celsius). As you probably guessed this means that the spring is near boiling and absolutely not for swimming. It is around 121 feet deep.
To view the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring, you need to pay an entrance fee for Yellowstone National Park. There are several types of admission available, from seven-day passes to annual passes to lifetime passes.
The Midway Geyser Basin area is located on the western side of the Grand Loop Road, which traverses the park. It is not far from the Old Faithful Area, where you will see other famous landmarks like the Old Faithful geyser.
While you’re in the Midway Geyser Basin, there are also other attractions to see, including the Excelsior Geyser.
Because Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the most popular sights in the park, your best bet is to allow plenty of time and expect crowds, especially if you’re visiting during the busy summer months.
The spring tends to be enveloped in mist in the morning, so you’re better off visiting it in the afternoon to get the best view.
When it comes to hot springs that you can actually swim in, Colorado’s Glenwood Hot Springs is the biggest in the world. There are multiple pools at the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort, but the big pool is 405 feet long and 100 feet wide at its widest point.
The big pool contains more than 1 million gallons of water and features lap lanes for swimming, as well as a diving area. It is heated to a comfortable 90 degrees Fahrenheit (around 32 degrees Celsius).
The water in the pool comes from the Yampah spring, which is around 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). Though the water actually comes from the Colorado River, the water is heated through fractures in the bedrock formation into the Leadville aquifer.
There are 15 minerals within the big pool, the most prominent of which are Sodium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate, Calcium Sulfate, and Calcium Bicarbonate.
You don’t have to reserve your place in advance to use the pool, and there are day and season passes available. In addition to being a relaxation facility, the resort also features an exhilarating aquatic playground, the Sopris Splash Zone.
The resort offers premium accommodations and an athletic club, as well as a variety of spa and wellness packages. This place should definitely be on your Colorado bucket list if you’re a hot spring fan!