More commonly associated with its historical landmarks and iconic cities such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania also boasts some of the most serene natural landscapes in the country.
From picturesque shorelines and towering mountains to the flat valleys of the Pennsylvania Dutch Region, The Keystone State offers a myriad of natural attractions to explore, including one of the few natural hot spring occurrences in the eastern United States.
While hot springs are abundant in the American West, where geothermal volcanic activity serves to warm water collections, natural thermal pools are less common in the central and eastern regions of the country. Nevertheless, these mineral pools serve as therapeutic oases for soothing weary bodies and frequently become popular tourist destinations.
Pennsylvania hot springs are no different, and the state’s sole thermal pool destination is even operated by a full-service luxury resort.
From the best soaking practices and onsite accommodation options to the best cold water natural spring alternatives, this is everything you need to know about hot springs in Pennsylvania.
History of Hot Springs in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is home to seven natural mineral springs, all tucked away at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains just outside of Bedford. The thermal pools are chemically diverse, offering unique soaking experiences, and are heralded for their therapeutic properties.
While it is unknown when the hot springs were first discovered, archeological evidence suggests that indigenous tribes would frequent the hot springs for their curative properties, at least dating back to the 18th century.
The hot springs were first revealed to Euro-American settlers in 1796 when Dr. John Anderson heard about the curative spring and asked a native friend to show him the way.
At the time, hot springs spas were a popular trend in society, with hot springs in Europe and America gaining international recognition as centers of rejuvenation.
Recognizing the Pennsylvania hot springs’ potential as a tourist attraction, Anderson established an extensive resort complex that would later become one of the country’s most opulent hot spring retreats.
Omni Bedford Springs
Officially opened in 1804, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort remains the sole facility offering natural thermal pool soaking experiences in Pennsylvania.
Over two centuries in operation, the 2,200-acre complex is listed as a National Historic Landmark and has attracted several notable figures, including 10 U.S. Presidents. These are some of the facilities guests can enjoy on the property.
[lasso ref=”omni-bedford-springs-resort” id=”2951″ link_id=”1027222″]
Visitors can easily submerge in the complex’s natural mineral waters within the resort’s large indoor pool. Built in 1905, the watering hole was one of the first indoor pools constructed in the United States and once featured an elevated opera box from which musicians would serenade swimmers.
Recently restored, the indoor pool is filled with natural spring water directly from the source and invites visitors to submerge in the same soaking experience enjoyed by early 20th-century dignitaries and notable figures.
The resort also features a man-made outdoor pool open during the warmer months and presents breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain range. Alternatively, the complex’s spa service offers small soaking tubs for a private bathing experience.
Natural Outdoor Springs
While only seven hot springs were historically recognized at the time of the resort’s establishment, there are currently eight natural mineral springs scattered throughout the extensive property. This is because an unknown hot spring, the Eternal Spring, was only uncovered during a renovation undertaken in 2006.
Unfortunately, some of these outdoor primitive pools have been capped off for safety reasons. Still, several others remain open and accessible via the hiking trails weaving their way throughout the outdoor facilities.
Each of these natural outdoor springs features various compositions and is renowned for multiple curative properties.
The Iron Spring is the most popular of these pools, famous for aiding in iron deficiency and promoting bone strength. Meanwhile, the Magnesium Spring is a favorite among visitors seeking a cure for stomach ailments.
The Omni Bedford Spring’s Eternal Spa engages the natural therapeutic waters of the complex’s newly uncovered Eternal Spring in a diverse catalog of various treatments that enhance the overall tranquility of the facilities by promoting the health of both the body and mind.
Featured within the spa are various treatments, including facials, hydra facials, body treatments, and even hair and nail services for all-encompassed pampering.
Included in all of the Eternal Spa’s treatments packages is a private soak in the facility’s mineral baths, which combine a water ritual, an aromatic steam room, a deluge shower, and a cucumber honeydew body scrub.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort features a wide array of amenities and services to provide absolute comfort and convenience for visitors to the eponymous hot springs.
Guests will enjoy a diverse selection of luxury rooms, several dining options, and various on-resort and offsite activities, including at the complex’s championship golf course.
Popular Natural Springs in Pennsylvania
The thermal pools at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort are the only naturally heated hot springs in Pennsylvania. However, The Keystone State is home to several picturesque cold water primitive springs for visitors seeking a therapeutic submersion in a more natural setting.
Tucked away in western Pennsylvania, the Frankfort Mineral Springs is perhaps the most idyllic primitive pool in the state that promises a therapeutic soak in its mineral-rich waters.
Located within the Racoon Creek State Park, Frankfort Mineral Springs offers an engaging exploration of the state’s natural corner and a soothing respite to escape the summer heat.
During the turn of the 20th century, the springs were operated by an extensive mineral spring resort. And while this complex has since been abandoned and reclaimed by nature, the ruins of the facilities can still be explored, buried by the region’s foliage and overgrowth.
While the spring emits 58 degrees Fahrenheit from the source, the pool features slightly higher temperatures, averaging 65 degrees, which is more in line with the temperatures of an average warm spring.
Despite its cooler nature, Frankfort Springs provide a tranquil natural setting that promises serenity as visitors embrace the water’s soothing properties.
Boiling Springs is a small town off the Appalachian Trail in south-central Pennsylvania. The city gets its name from the natural artesian springs around the community.
Despite the town’s name, these springs aren’t boiling. In fact, they aren’t even hot springs. They average temperatures around 55 and 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead, Boiling Springs gets its name from a unique hydrogeological feature that results in a bubbling phenomenon reminiscent of water boiling.
Nevertheless, despite its cooler temperatures, like many natural springs, the water features high mineral concentrations boasting therapeutic properties and nutritional value.
Furthermore, the town has become a popular tourist destination for visitors seeking access to the region’s outdoor attractions. As such, it has developed a healthy infrastructure with many accommodation options and services.
The natural spring waters are also popular amongst the region’s tourists as they offer a soothing respite after engaging the region’s more arduous attractions.