Many guests that come to Chico Hot Springs Resort may question as to whether the rec center type pool is actually a hot spring. Well, if you explore around the resort at all you will find that there are actually a couple of different spots that you can find the hot water coming straight from the ground. These are the same sort of spots that are drained right into the pool. Sure, there are tons of other natural hot springs that cover Montana that are not in a pool. Chico is a spot for families and for people to get away without losing some comforting things like electricity, fresh water, and even a bar. Chico Hot Springs is a great place to enjoy a natural resource without having to walk miles to sit in a hole of hot water.
Just because the hot spring is drained into a pool doesn’t make it necessarily any less natural. The water that is in the pool is drained right from the ground and there are never any chemicals added. Since there are no chemicals added and so many guests that use the pool everyday, the pool is drained, scrubbed down, and then refilled for the next day. This is probably one of the most sanitary pools that someone will ever swim in.
Another comforting part about this pool, is that there are two different pools. The one pool that is a bit bigger and not protected from the sun, is a tad bit cooler than the smaller pool that is under the roof. This way a guest can find the perfect temp to soak in. The pool with the roof over it also has a bar on the outside that attaches to the Saloon on the inside. So if the pool is not totally getting the job done, then there is always the bar to really make sure that guests are able to relax.
In a way, Chico Hot Springs is a bit of hidden gem. If you are ever driving by that area I would suggest taking a little bit of time to enjoy the beautiful Chico Hot Springs Resort.
If you start at Highway 89 and turn into Emigrant towards Emigrant Peak, you will start heading towards Chico Hot Springs. As you drive the nicely paved road into the resort you will notice that the road seems to just turn into a parking lot. To some that may seem like the end of the road, but if you keep going past that wide section of road you will notice a narrow dirt road that seems like it goes right up Emigrant Peak. This often overlooked road leads to a place called Old Chico.
Old Chico used to be an important part of the Emigrant area. Before gold was discovered in Emigrant Gulch, most people were working on agriculture, a little bit of mining, and the expansion of the railroad in what was then called Yellowstone City further down in the valley. In 1863 the gold rush hit Emigrant Gulch as people decided to journey further up. Due to the movement of the rush and the constant harassment from the Crow Indians, Yellowstone City was abandoned in 1865. This movement started to form places like Chico. As the gold started to get more difficult to retrieve further up the Gulch, people moved even closer and eventually formed Old Chico at the mouth of Emigrant Gulch.
At its peak, around 1874, Chico and Old Chico reached the population of around 400 people. The population stayed about the same for a while as the mining stayed constant and the equipment started to progress. As World War II rolled around the mining in the Emigrant area came to pretty much an immediate stop. Old Chico was abandoned by the miners and was left to be a ghost town.
With the help from the resort just down the road, Old Chico has been preserved fairly well. The road is still very accessible in order to reach some of the cabins and the houses that a select few people live in year round. Along the road you can see the remains of old mining buildings and equipment that mesh together with the newer homes. Old Chico is the holder of some important history in Paradise Valley.
Emigrant is a town that is not made up of much, but what it does have, is what the people around there need. Emigrant has its restaurants, it has a post office, a general store and gas station, mountains, a church, and it has, to some the most needed store, a fly shop. Being placed right on the Yellowstone River means that the residents and people that travel to Emigrant have access to some of the best trout fishing in the world.
People come from all over to try their luck on the mountain surrounded, Yellowstone River. Whether they are floating or just walking the river in search for that trophy trout, flyfishing takes a decent amount of equipment. Angler’s West Flyfishing Outfitter, attached to the Old Saloon and Livery Stable restaurant, has some of the most up-to-date equipment that the flyfishing industry has to offer. It is filled with the nicest gear from some of the largest companies including Patagonia and Bozeman’s own Simms. The shop also offers a pretty large arrangement of different flies that would hopefully get the job done for any kind of day on the river. From rods to flies, everything in the store is set up extremely neatly and is kept up nicely. After being in a few different buildings around Emigrant, to me it was obvious that this place held a special spot in the small town of Emigrant. Fishing is part of life in Paradise Valley, and Angler’s West Flyfishing Outfitters gets that.
As you are driving from Emigrant to Chico Hot Springs, other than being distracted by the beautiful Emigrant Peak, one might notice the building containing all of the huge garage doors on the front. Well, this is the Paradise Valley Fire Department. As of right now, there hasn’t been too much going on around that building. Other than a few little chores, the fire action is luckily fairly low right now. As things start to dry out and the lightning storms start to pick up over the next few months, their jobs will quickly change. They will have one of the most important jobs in that valley, which is protecting the gorgeous land around them from the danger of wildfires.
In 2013, Emigrant Peak became a victim of a wildfire. It burned around 420 acres but fortunately did not threaten any homes or structures around Emigrant. The fire could be seen from the Patio of the Wildflower Bakery and Cafe. It became a huge subject to talk about throughout Emigrant.
A fire that was truly devastating to the Paradise Valley, was just north of Emigrant on highway 540 in a little town called Pine Creek. Pine Creek is well known for its camping access and the trail head for Pine Creek falls and Pine Creek Lake. In August of 2012, a fire broke out right in this area. It ended up burning about 8000 acres and destroying five homes. If you hike up to Pine Creek Lake, you can see the dead, blackened trees that were destroyed by the fire. Even if you just drive on Highway 540 through Pine Creek one will notice that the fire had even crossed the road at one point.
It is scary to think that with just one lighting strike or even the end of a cigarette, the whole Absaroka Mountain Range could go up in flames. Luckily there are people like the Paradise Valley Fire Department that are there to help protect that majestic area where people live and play.
Emigrant is made up of basically three main watering holes. The Old Saloon, which is under construction right now. Chico Hot Springs, which is usually filled with tourists who are either coming or going to Yellowstone, and last but not least, there is the Riverside Bar and Grill. From all of the watering holes that I have been to lately, the Riverside Bar and Grill has been the most local feeling place that I have been to thus far. On Friday evening I went in and sat at the bar for a little bit while locals, and maybe a couple of tourists, were mingling, drinking, eating, and going over their weeks with each other. Most of the people that came in seemed like they did a lot of manual labor as their jobs. Lots of them had dirtier and warn clothes and some of them even wore cowboy hats. I got the immediate feeling that this was more of the ranching crew of people that lived in Emigrant.
On the East side of the Yellowstone River, the land is owned and used for ranching. There is a ton of cattle that roams the land. The people inside of the bar and grill seemed like the type of people that were looking after all of the livestock. It is their place to meet up with friends and cool down or warm up after a long day of work in Paradise Valley.
I had heard from a couple of people that I have talked to that Corwin Springs, which lies between Emigrant and Gardiner, is basically the headquarters for the Church Universal and Triumphant. Since the CUT is a huge part of Emigrant, I decided to go and photograph the huge church in Corwin Springs. It may have been the time of day that I went there, but while I was walking around I maybe saw one person. Other than a couple of cars that were around, it pretty much seemed like a ghost town. The one person that I saw seemed like he was in a hurry to get somewhere but he did say hello. Corwin Springs is an interesting place to say the least.
The church that I photographed can be seen fairly easily from Highway 89. Part of the reason why it can be seen from so far away is because of the size it. For such a small and kind of random place, the church is an extremely nice building. It is easy to tell where a lot of the money is going in that town. Another reason why it can be seen from the highway is because the roof of the tower is made with gold shingles that reflect the sun perfectly. The tower’s gold and stained glass windows are definitely nice to look at when you get up close.
There was also another interesting statue of Jesus with his arms out, a goblet and necklace at his feet, and at his heart there was an actual heart with barbs around it. The statue is also surrounded by very well kept garden of colorful flowers. I have seen a decent amount of Jesus statues but I have never really seen one like this.
Chico is a real hot spot for many tourists from across the country and even the world. The resort is placed right at the base of Emigrant Peak in the heart of Paradise Valley. It is a good spot for people to stop because it is right between Yellowstone and Livingston. Being just three miles away from Emigrant, Chico is a big part of Emigrant’s economy. Many people stay in Chico for the natural hot spring pool that they have, but there are tons of other activities that involve Emigrant as well. Guests can choose to go on horse back rides, fish, hike, and even float the Yellowstone River. The Saloon in Chico also hosts music events almost every weekend during the summer time months. All of these activities are provided by people living in Emigrant.
Chico seems like it is kind of the third group that makes up the Emigrant area. It is tucked away to cater to guests who usually have a decent amount of money. From the feel of it, it doesn’t feel like a place that you would find locals. With people coming and going, the scene is always different. Even with this constant change of people Emigrant would really not see any sort of action from the tourists that are already so close. Chico is what separates itself from the rest of the small towns in the Paradise Valley area.
A few days ago I drove up to the upper part of Emigrant near the CUT. I noticed a blue house on top of a hill. One of the reasons that I noticed it was because of how big it was. The house has got to be at least four stories and who knows how many rooms were in there. I also noticed it because of the no traditional shape of the house. Instead of being like the average house that is more rectangular with corners, this house is an octagonal shape. It is not just one big octagon but instead there are multiple towers that divide the house. All of these towers have the shape of an octagon. There are some parts of the towers that have no but there are some parts that are just covered with (the side facing the Absaroka Mountains). It is pretty much a mansion, especially when you compare them to most of the other in the area.
From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like there is anyone living in it at the moment. There may be some being done to the since I could see some scaffolding getting ready to be up outside of the.
Another part of the that I noticed was a potential tunnel that lead in and out of the house . About 100 yards away from the house is a door with a kind of cement door way that leads right into the hill that the house sits on top. To me it definitely looks like a bunker thing that is part of the house. After reading a little bit about how Elizabeth Claire Prophet and some others used to live within the mountains of Emigrant, it made me wonder if this was potentially one of the tunnels that Elizabeth used to live in. Around this same area I also found some other doors that would just lead right into the hills that houses were around.
I know that the Prophet of the CUT has predicted that the world is going to end a few times. Obviously those prophets have not all been true. With these prediction though, I do wonder if the tunnels that I am are for people to hide in when the day comes that the world ends?
Yesterday I checked out one of Emigrant’s main watering holes, The Old Saloon, that is actually being remodeled right now. Wyatt, from the Wildflower Bakery and Cafe, told me that The Old Saloon and Livery Stable was recently sold to the same person who owns The Wilma in Missoula, Montana. The rumored goal is to make The Old Saloon and Livery Stable more of a party type spot with more live music. I’m going to try and meet with the new owner of The Old Saloon to get his view on the transformation of the classic bar. There were some construction workers that let me take some photos of the outside of the bar and said that I could eventually take some photos of the inside as well. This construction work definitely represents some of the upgrades that Emigrant is going through.
Another little upgrade that I noticed was a new sign for the mini Meditation Point Church. The new sign looks a lot nicer than the old one that is shown in my first blog post “Exploring a New Place”. I also noticed that there was a solar panel that was attached to the building. At first I was wondering if the mini church was still being used, but now it seems fairly obvious that it is still being used for something. I might have to hang out there and wait for somebody to come by so that I can ask what it is being used for. Until then, I just have some images of the outside.