Mission-style Symes Hot Springs Hotel remains contentedly stuck in the 1940s with neither room phones nor televisions. An artesian well into a shallow aquifer feeds hot mineral waters into a flow-through pool in the front of the hotel. The upper pool is toasty at 104 degrees while the lower pool is more sustainable for most bathers, around 100 degrees, with a peaceful waterfall between the two pools.
Several nearby businesses also offer mud and mineral baths to soothe away the anxieties of modern times.
Native peoples occupied the Little Bitterroot River Valley and enjoyed its healing hot springs long before European trappers and traders arrived in the early 1800s. In 1855, an 80-acre area around the hot springs was set aside as a government reserve.
In 1910, the Flathead Reservation opened to homesteading. The sale of tribal allotments, along with the land of early settler Ed Lamereaux, became the townsite of Hot Springs. Originally platted as Pineville, the town lies astride Hot Springs Creek within the modern borders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation.
European-American settlers from the outset enjoyed the hot springs and residents catered to visitors seeking the curative mineral waters. Businessman Fred Symes purchased the property in 1929 and built a $50,000 Mission-style hotel, completed in early 1930. Mission-style features include the curvalinear roofline, quatrefiol windows and stuccoed walls. The original hotel featured twenty baths, ivory enamel finishings, and doctor's services on the premises. The Symes proved a depression-proof business; expansion and improvements continued throughout the 1930s through the mid-1940s.