Welcome, all lovers of Sleeping Child Hot Springs, just outside of Hamilton, Montana. Sleeping Child Hot Springs was privately owned since 1891 to about 1992, but was available for day use with a small fee. It was extremely popular, both with nearby residents, visitors from Missoula and far beyond. The photo above is of a group of bathers at the hot springs circa 1920s. The hot springs has been for sale since 2003 and is closed to the general public (groups can rent it as a corporate retreat/lodge).
In 2014 a group of local hot springs lovers formed a non-profit organization with a mission:
“To acquire, permanently conserve, manage and protect the special place that is sleeping Child Hot Springs, and make it available for use by all people.”
Here is a short run-down of what our group has accomplished since the winter of 2014:
We contacted five other hot springs around the west that are either publicly-owned or owned by a coalition of public and private agencies and/or trusts. They were all very open about how they came to be, how they operate fiscally and the fact that they were all very solvent.
We held four months of meetings with interested people in the winter and spring of 2014, formed a board of directors that summer, wrote bylaws and articles of incorporation and became a non-profit organization in the fall (thanks to about $600 in local individual donations given to us in person at our booth at the Farmers Market and other events). We also personally surveyed hundreds of valley residents about Sleeping Child Hot Springs at Hamilton Farmer’s Market, Apple Day, Bitterroot Day and Bitterroot All Local Show to ask about their personal recollections and how they felt about public ownership. We set up a Facebook page to keep information flowing (look how many people are following us now — more than 1,500!).
In January 2015, we received a $00 Humanities Montana grant in order to bring Tony Incashola, Director of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Culture Committee to Hamilton to talk about the Salish life in the Bitterroot Valley.
The Salish have very long ties with Sleeping Child Hot Springs and named it. Tony spoke to a large appreciative audience on March 7, 2015, and we hope to bring him back next winter to tell Salish Creation Stories (which can only be told in winter), including how Sleeping Child Hot Springs got its name.
In April 2015 we became a member of Trust Montana (who have mentored us in the last year), and have held a series of meetings with them. We are in the process of forming ideas for a kind of partnership with them and then making an offer to the owners of Sleeping Child Hot Springs.
Feel free to contact Dorinda Troutman, Chair of the Board of Directors, with any questions, or to help in our effort. 406-363-1806. Be sure and visit and like our Facebook page.