The western part of the Flathead Reservation  has a couple of commercial hot springs in and around the very modest and unresortlike town of Hot Springs. Several massage therapists have practices in town, so it’s easy to get very relaxed here.
Locals mix with day trippers up from Missoula  at Camas Hot Springs, a series of outdoor pools on the northeast edge of town developed by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Two soaking pools, one large and one small, are near a path leading to hot seeps welling up from the ground. Admission is $5 for the whole day, and no-frills RV camping is available.
Another tribe-run site is Rose’s Plunge, at the Camas Recreation Center.
Wild Horse Hot Springs (406/741-3777, 11 a.m.–8 p.m., $5), six miles off Highway 28 from Hot Springs, is a place to relax in a private room with a plunge, a steam room, a shower, and a toilet. The plunge is like a cement baby pool with hot water. It’s not a posh place, but it somehow has the feeling of a refuge, a place where chills and bone weariness melt away and you’re left with your pores open to the rolling hills and golden light of the surrounding reservation. RV camping is available out back, but most people just come for a soak.
If you do want to spend the night within an easy sniff of the waters, Symes Hot Springs Hotel and Mineral Baths (104 Wall St., 406/741-2361, www.symeshotsprings.com , $50–115) has rooms with bathtubs plumbed with the local sulfurous brew; there are also newer outdoor soaking and swimming pools. This downtown Hot Springs hotel is a mix between an old-fashioned therapeutic spa and a New Age retreat, with a pretty good restaurant, helpful staff, and relaxed, friendly clientele.
Economy rooms are equipped with a toilet and sink off the bedroom; to bathe you go downstairs to a long row of huge claw-foot tubs, each enclosed in its own wooden cubicle, and draw yourself a bath. Showers are also available, and more expensive rooms ($68 and up) have their own tubs. If you’re here for the real treatment, there’s a massage therapist on site.
Another Hot Springs original is Alameda’s Hot Springs Retreat (308 N. Springs St., 406/741-2283, $50–75), which has hot tubs, massages, and rooms (all with private toilet but some with shared shower facilities) in an old-fashioned motel. Pets are allowed both here and at Symes.