Hot springs are natural features resulting when ground water is heated (sometimes far beyond the level of human endurance) by geothermal forces and brought to the surface, typically becoming diluted with cool surface water on the way.tions and are sc Many are in attractive locaenic (e.g. the geysers of Yellowstone National Park, Kamchatka, New Zealand, etc.) or celebrated (e.g. the original town of Spa), hence are attractions or even destinations in their own right. However, for the hot-spring aficionado, the greatest pleasure comes not from just looking at the spring, but from getting into the water for its therapeutic powers, not to mention just because it feels good -- really good. This article will help travelers get the most out of their hot-spring experiences world-wide.
- Wild springs are often (although not always) on public land or otherwise accessible to the public without charge, while developed springs are almost invariably intended by the developer to make a profit, and hence will charge (and be in a legal position to demand) an admission fee.
- You can't count on creature comforts at a wild spring; you may have to sit on a rock at water's edge to doff your clothing, and pre-entry showers are pretty well out of the question, let alone amenities like poolside drinks that a developed spring may offer. On the other hand, wild springs are generally open-air and take you "back to nature" in ways that a developed spring may not.
- At a wild spring, water temperature is purely on an as-is basis; the pool where you bathe will be at a temperature that's regulated solely by the relative proportions of water from the spring and meteoric (surface) water that the terrain imposes. As a consequence, water at wild springs can be uncomfortably, or even dangerously, hot. Commercial operators of developed springs will generally ensure that the water temperature is appropriate (sometimes offering several choices of temperature in different pools) through dilution of the spring's effluent with water from the commercial supply or other sources. This distinction is particularly important; the bather used to "tame" water from a commercial spring who wades directly into a seething-hot wild spring can receive a painful, or even fatal, surprise.
- Hot-spring water is usually fairly safe from the standpoint of carrying disease-causing organisms, but some is not (see below under "Stay healthy"), and the surface water that cools a scalding spring to usable temperatures will be prone to the same bugs and pathogens as any other surface water. Operators of developed springs may (or may not) take steps to disinfect the water, but at a wild spring, you're obviously on your own.