Hot Springs in Tennessee

Kurt Norris
Last Updated: March 14th, 2024

Along with its vibrant music scene, which has produced the likes of the universally famed Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley, Tennessee is a world-renowned destination for its natural attractions, including the breathtakingly beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.

While home to several scenic vistas of roaring waterfalls, weaving rivers, and towering mountains, The Volunteer State boasts only a singular hot spring destination. Despite being abundant in the American West, these thermal pools are much rarer in other parts of the country and occur only sporadically in central and eastern states.

Nevertheless, the sole Tennessee hot spring serves as a tranquil respite from the state’s more intrepid attractions and activities. It is a must-visit site for soothing well-worn muscles after exploring Tennessee’s rugged terrains and the Great Smoky Mountains.

From where to find the only naturally occurring thermal pool in Tennessee to the best ways to enjoy the healing properties of the mineral-rich waters, this is everything you need to know about hot springs in Tennessee.

Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee


Nestled in the Cumberland Mountains in northern Tennessee, Red Boiling Springs is a small town home to the state’s only naturally occurring hot spring attraction. Unfortunately, it is a hidden gem kept secret from many of the state’s tourists.

Originally known as Salt Lick Creek, the hot springs in Tennessee were frequently visited by Indigenous tribes and European settlers that would hunt in the region. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that a post office was finally established in the area.

As the agricultural industry developed in the region, more of the area’s springs were uncovered, including the red-colored sulfur-bubbling waters of the hot spring found on the property of a local farmer. Early ventures capitalizing on the spring’s commercial potential sprouted up in the region but ultimately failed due to the site’s isolated location.

That is until a stagecoach line completed in 1873 finally made accessing the Red Boiling Springs community possible for tourists, and ventures to create a hot spring resort in the region began anew. As a result, several hotels and services sprouted in the community, and the town developed into a resort community that rivaled similar facilities in nearby states.

While the community resorts have since declined from their heyday, the springs of Red Boiling Springs are still a popular destination boasting curative properties. Several historic hotels and resorts still operate in the area.

However, only one of these continues to offer mineral bath soaks similar to the earliest days of the hot spring resort community.

Armour’s Hotel & Spa

Armour’s Hotel & Spa via armourshotel

First built in 1924, the Armour’s Hotel & Spa is a historic hotel operating out of Red Boiling Springs and the only resort in the community that continues to offer mineral baths among its services.

The full-service accommodation operates out of a colonial revival-style mansion and features 24 rooms that each boast retro designs reminiscent of the town’s historical past. While rustically styled, each room features modern amenities, including complimentary WIFI, private refrigerators, and plenty of communal spaces for family fun activities.

But of course, like in its heyday, the biggest draw to the resort is the facility’s onsite mineral pools offered at the bathhouses just behind the main building. Featuring two mineral tubs, the water is sourced from onsite wells for guests to soak in as they enjoy the rustic setting.

For an even more enhanced sense of relaxation, the resort also offers extensive spa treatments, including massage therapy, heated bio mats, and vibroacoustic therapy.

Cool Water Springs in Tennessee

While Tennessee’s hot spring offerings are limited, The Volunteer State boasts an extensive list of cool water spring alternatives for visitors to soak in throughout the warm months.

While not boasting the year-round warm temperatures that have made thermal pools so famous, cool water springs still offer a comfortable escape from the summer heat as visitors float along the pristine environments of their mineral waters.

Stillhouse Hollow Falls

Stillhouse Hollow Falls via Brent Moore

One of the most pristine cold-water springs in Tennessee, the Stillhouse Hollow Falls are located within a 90-acre state natural area near Summertown in Maury County. The protected area features shale bottom streams that weave through dense foliage that is home to several bird and animal species for visitors to explore

To visit the idyllic watering hole, visitors should follow the designated hiking trail that guides them 0.7 miles through the preservation of the region’s eponymous waterfalls. Visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the majestic 75-foot falls, which cascade down the cliffside.

At the foot of the falls is a shallow swimming hole perfect for taking a dip and safe for visitors of all swimming levels. The family-fun attraction is ideal for visitors to the state seeking a natural watering hole away from civilization and is a must-visit when traveling to Tennessee in the Summer.

Cummins Falls State Park

Another great natural spring in Tennessee boasting its beautiful waterfall feature, Cummins Falls State Park is a 306-acre preservation and day park. Like the Stillhouse Falls, the Cummins Falls features a 75-foot cascading drop into an idyllic watering hole popular amongst tourists and locals. In fact, the site is so popular Gorge Access Permits should be reserved in advance.

Along with visiting the site’s primary waterfall attraction, which has attracted tourists for over a century, the state park also features many hiking trails that guide visitors through the region’s indigenous plant and animal species.

Rock Island State Park


Rock Island State Park is an 883-protected park located in the headwaters of Center Hill Lake.

The site includes the Caney Fork Gorge, Great Falls Dam, and one of the state’s most extensive and beautiful natural spring watering holes, complete with its natural sand beach.

Established as a state park in 1969, Rock Island boasts some of the region’s most awe-inspiring vistas, including overlooks of the 30-foot horseshoe waterfall and the historic 19th-century cotton textile mill that once operated in the area.

About The Author

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. He began his professional writing career while in school as a sports journalist. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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