Norris Hot Springs-Water of the Gods

Thursday Apr. 1st, 2010

As a self-proclaimed hot springs enthusiast, I find the variety and abundance of natural hot springs littered about the Gallatin, Park and Madison Counties divine. Nothing compliments a long day of hiking, biking or skiing like a soothing soak in the mineral filled waters of a Montana’s hot springs. Recently, my grandfather Vern Bandy successfully located a cold water source for Norris Hot Springs. I’m hoping one day he can locate hot water in my backyard but until then you’ll find me and my family indulging in local Hot Springs from Chico to White Sulfur, Boulder, the Boiling river and everywhere in between.

In 1886 a party on a westward bound wagon train encountered one such hot springs referred to as “Norris Hot Springs.” The journal entry of their Captain, Benjamin Daly described the spring as “…so hot if you put your hand in it, you would jerk it out without anyone telling you to.” The Captain said it was the “Devil’s Teapot.” Though once nick-named  the “Devil’s Teapot” this heavenly retreat is now known as  “Norris Hot Springs-Water of the Gods.” Where once a wooden shack was built with 2 private tubs, there is now an open pool surrounded by natural wetlands, a dome which hosts live music and a cozy restaurant serving up dishes with locally and sustainably produced beef and vegetables.

Over the years, our family has seen many changes at Norris Hot Springs. The previous owner, Doris Zankowsky a.k.a “Doris from Norris” owned the property from 1972-2004. Back then, many remember the barb wire fences, poignant signage, and “Nudie Night” as signature traits of the rustic fir lined pool. Now, the current owner Holly Heinzmann has transformed the ambience of Norris Hot Springs from concentration camp-like to groovy.  And, the property continues to evolve with the plantings of fruit trees, grasses, brambles and vegetable gardens. A greenhouse now resides on site and planning is underway to heat it with the abundant hot water.

Flowing at a constant rate of 60 gallons per minute, the water at Norris leaves the ground at a sizzling 120 degrees. To offset the heat, the water is cooled through a system of sprayers. It is notable, that while many hot springs are characterized by an ever-present sulfurous odor, Norris’ hot water is not. The abundant mineral content of the water is soothing to the muscles and detoxifying by nature.

While soaking in the hot springs, you may find yourself thirsting for a beverage. Many drinks are available at the ‘No Loose Dogs’ Saloon to be enjoyed either in or out of the pool. The saloon features Montana microbrews and Montana’s own Ten Spoon organic wines. Additionally, they offer bottled water, juice, coffee, tea and soda. Customers are strongly encouraged to rehydrate and water is conveniently provided poolside. The owner’s do ask that no outside beverages be brought into the pool, excluding plastic baby bottles and absolutely NO GLASS! Norris Hot Springs encourages its customers to be safe, and offers a free soak pass to the designated driver of car loads of three passengers or more.

Arrive hungry! In addition to refreshing beverages, The ‘All Local Foods Grill’ has continually added to their menu of satisfying foods. Whether vegan, vegetarian or die hard carnivore, all will find an item to satiate a rumbling tummy. And, not only is the food tasty, but locally sourced and organic when possible. Many vegetables are now being grown on-site which complement the hearty varieties of grass fed beef.

As if steamy hot water, a vast selection of beverages and tasty menu items were not enough, live music played poolside is also a prominent feature at ‘Water of the Gods.’ Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night you can soak to the sounds of bluegrass, folk rock, thermal grass, Americana or country blues.

Norris Hot Springs Water of the Gods provides a family friendly environment at reasonable prices. On Wednesday and Thursday, kids 12 and under soak free. Every other day is easy on the wallet as well.  Prices are $5 for adults, $3 for kids and $7 at 7:00 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night to support local music.

As Earth Day approaches with the coming of Spring, Bozeman Magazine recognizes Norris Hot Springs as an earth friendly venue. From the solar panels which power the kitchen to the annual tree planting, owner Holly Heinzmann is recognized for her efforts with this growing business and excellent stewardship of the environment which surrounds it.

Norris Hot Springs-Water of the Gods is located 33 miles west of Bozeman on Highway 84. Hours and information can be found by calling 406.685.3303 or online at

If you haven’t been, go, and as we say in our family – “get thermalized!”