Why Chico Hot Springs is Our Favorite Place to Stay in Montana’s Paradise Valley
After hearing about how great Chico Hot Springs is from friends and family for literally years, I finally stayed there for a night. I immediately realized why it’s a Montana resort loved by locals and visitors alike.
What makes Chico Hot Springs so special?
Well, for starters, it’s one of the only resorts located in the gorgeous Paradise Valley in between Livingston and the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It’s just 40 minutes north of Yellowstone.
Plus, Chico Hot Springs has some seriously neat and memorable accommodation options, like covered wagons and rooms in a National Historic Site.
Secondly, it’s located in Pray, MT. Pray is known for it geothermal hot springs. The resort is built around this hot spring, which feeds the resort’s huge thermally heated pool.
And third, it’s just gorgeous there!
So much beauty surrounds Chico Hot Springs Resort.
It’s also steeped in history. The main lodge is on the National Registrar of Historic Places and features a number of antiques in the lobby and cool vintage decor throughout the lodge and adjacent dining room.
Read More: The Best Family Resorts in Montana
In addition to the gorgeous Montana views, Chico has some really neat accommodation options.
Accommodation Types at Chico Hot Springs
My husband and I stayed in one of the luxury cabins and I was so impressed with how spacious, clean, and comfortable it was — especially because for less than $300 per night in July, it felt like a steal.
The luxury cabins are situated on the north end of the property along a little peaceful strip of land dotted with greenery and bookended with hammocks.
Behind the luxury cabins are pastures with cows grazing. They were fun to listen to on the front porch after dinner.
The relaxing front porch with its comfortable Adirondack chairs was another one of my favorite aspects of our cabin. It was a great spot to enjoy a morning coffee.
The luxury cabins were just a few minutes walk from the pool, bar and restaurants, and main lodge.
Chico Hot Spring’s Main Lodge
The main lodge of Chico Hot Springs is the historic heart of the resort. I enjoyed wandering the halls and taking in the old-fashioned features.
The rooms have been updated, but retain some rustic charm. The main lodge rooms are of great value since most rooms do not have an ensuite and instead have shared bathrooms down the hallway.
The Main Lodge is connected to the reception area and the main restaurant. It is also right by the pool.
Want a hotel room type of stay at Chico Hot Springs close to the pool and common areas, but with a bit more of a modern vibe, like an ensuite bath? The Warren Wing or Lower Lodge next door to the Historic Main Lodge is your answer.
The Warren Wing shares the same white and green exterior as the Main Lodge, but you’ll find private rooms adjoined to rooms with charming country decor.
The Lower Lodge has a gorgeous wood beamed exterior, canopy beds, and suite options. Though just a bit farther than the Main Historic Lodge, the Lower Lodge is also an easy walk to the common area amenities like the pool and dining.
We’ll get to swimming and dining in a minute, but first, let’s talk about one of my favorite accommodation options at Chico Hot Springs: the covered wagons.
Glamping in Covered Wagons at Chico Hot Springs
I would love to go back to Chico Hot Springs and stay in one of its covered wagon glamping-style cabins with my kids. They (and me!) would get such a kick out of it.
The covered wagons at Chico Hot Springs feature a queen bed and a bunk bed. Outside the wagon are private seating areas.
Most of the covered wagons are situated at the top of the resort, overlooking the main amenities below.
These unique wagon accommodations share a luxurious bathhouse with multiple bathrooms that have a toilet, shower, vanity, and changing area.
Camp Conestoga also has a lovely firepit area in the common area of the camp with ample seating and views of the resort and mountains.
Pic: Covered Wagons View
Chico Hot Springs also has a covered wagon with a private bathhouse and bonfire area referred to as the Cowboy Camp. It is located separate from Camp Conestoga.
The Cowboy Camp wagon lot is located lower down the road and is closer to the townhomes and rustic cabins.
Townhomes and Cabin
In addition to the luxury cabins I mentioned earlier, Chico Hot Springs has a row of Rustic Cabins that are smaller and easier on your budget.
Traveling with a large group? Rent one of the houses or chalets that can fit up to 12 people.
In addition to cabins, cottages, and houses, there are motel-style townhomes overlooking the resort called the Fisherman’s Lodge. These offer updated interiors and parking right outside your door with a grassy area and chairs in back.
The houses, cottages, covered wagons, and rustic cabins are all located up the mountain road above the resort so are a longer walk to the main lodge and pool. You’ll also find a cool converted train caboose up there that can sleep two people. The Fisherman’s Lodge is on the lower end, but also has a bit of a stroll.
You can also just drive down and park by reception if you’re staying in this area or up in one of the covered wagons.
The Pool at Chico Hot Springs
Chico Hot Springs has one large rectangle pool divided into two potions, a large area, and a small area. The large area is heated at a low temperature, but it’s still hot! As the name suggests, this is after all a pool naturally filled and heated by nearby hot springs.
Read More: Best Hot Springs in Montana
Because of the constant stream of water entering and exiting the pool from the spring, the pool is able to be chlorine-free.
Right next to the pool is a causal diner-style restaurant called the Poolside Grille.
You can also order ice cream and snacks to go.
The pool is also adjacent to Chico Saloon. There’s a window where you can order a drink right from the pool area. You can see that service window and the entrance to Chico Saloon from the pool in the picture below.
You’ll need to show your ID the first time you order so you can get your wristband stamped and then you don’t need to worry about carrying your ID around the resort with you and can also charge your drinks to your room.
Where to Eat and Drink at Chico Hot Springs
That seems a good segue for where to eat and drink!
The dining room is known for gourmet, locally inspired entrees. Many of the ingredients used are sourced right from the resort’s onsite garden.
I loved my gorgonzola steak entree and the appetizers were also delicious. Being in such a popular resort and being so close to Yellowstone National Park means this is a popular place to eat so advance reservations are highly recommended.
Chico Dining Room also has an impressive drink menu with a massive wine list.
You can even rent out the wine cellar for an extra special multi-course Chef’s Tasting dinner with sommelier-picked wine pairings.
Back by the pool, you can get burgers, sandwiches, and other laid-back grub in the aforementioned Poolside Grille.
For drinks or casual evening eats, Chico Saloon will be calling your name. This historic bar is located a short stroll from the lobby and is right by the pool.
The Saloon is the hang-out spot in the evenings. It has a fun vibe with various baseball caps hung from the ceiling. It also hosts live music on weekend nights during the summer season.
Other Things to Do at Chico Hot Springs
You’ll have a hard time getting bored at Chico Hot Springs! The resort has its own stable with horses waiting to escort riders around local trails. The stable is located across from the Lower Lodge.
We would have loved joining in for a horseback ride, but we were short on time so saved that for our next stop at Triple Creek Ranch in Darby.
I loved walking past the horses on our way from our cabin to the main lodge; just watch out for horse poop so you don’t step in it!
Next to the stable is a little outdoor recreation shop where you can sign up for rafting or fishing excursions and purchase any gear you may need.
If you want to pamper yourself beyond thermal waters, head to the onsite spa where you can get massages, wrap treatments, facials, and more.
Fancy some shopping? Chico Hot Springs has a great gift shop with some fun apparel and home goods. There’s also an espresso bar inside the gift shop.
Can You Get Day Passes for Chico Hot Springs?
Yes, day passes for the pool are $10 with a $5 discount for ages 3-6 and 65+. Children age 2 and younger are free. Day passes can be purchased at the front desk or the cafe by the pool. You’ll get a wristband to wear for your day there. Occasionally day passes are not available for a specific day so I recommend calling first before arriving.
But if you have some extra time after a day in Yellowstone or looking for a fun day trip from Bozeman or Livingston, it’s worth checking out if there are passes available and/or to get a bite to eat in the saloon.
Book Early for Chico Hot Springs
If you have your heart set on a specific type of accommodation at Chico Hot Springs, book early. We booked our luxury cabin about ten months in advance and the covered wagons and some of the main lodge rooms were already all sold out. The girl at reception said reservations open three years in advance and covered wagons sometimes are booked that early!
I truly loved my stay at Chico Hot Springs. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out more reviews for the property on TripAdvisor.
Ready to book? Find your perfect accommodation at Chico Hot Springs and get ready for an unforgettable Montana getaway in Paradise Valley.