Monkey hot springs

Macques soaking at the Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan (Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

Hot springs are generally considered to be destinations of rest and relaxation, but that's not always the case! Here are some fascinating geothermal wonders from around the world that aren't suitable for swimming, but are still undeniably sublime to observe from a distance.

 
Deadly hot springs: Champagne Pool

Photo: Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock

Champagne Pool — Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand

This steaming, effervescent wonder is the centerpiece of New Zealand's famous Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area. While the pool's temperature typically averages around 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius), the geothermal water below the pool is significantly hotter — around 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius), to be precise. The pool's edge gets its orange colors from metalloid compounds like orpiment and stibnite.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Frying Pan Lake

Photo: Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock

Frying Pan Lake Rotorua, New Zealand

This aptly named hot spring is situated within Rotorua's Waimangu Rift Valley, a hydrothermal system created by the June 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. Prior to the creation of the rift valley, Rotorua was home to the island's famous Pink and White Terraces, which were lost in the destruction alongside several villages and hundreds of people. Frying Pan Lake is considered to be one of the largest hot springs in the world, but it is just one of many thermal lakes found in the Rotorua area.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Oyunuma Lake

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Oyunuma Lake Hokkaido, Japan

Located in the the Niseki Highlands just outside Rankoshi, this super hot thermal lake features a fenced walkway that allows visitors to safely observe the thick, bubbling mud that surrounds the sulphurous waters. Although the water temperature typically hovers around 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), insects don't let the heat stop them from buzzing around the lake surface.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Grand Prismatic Spring

Photo: Lorcel/Shutterstock

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Obviously named for its rainbow coloration, the Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the United States and one of the most popular attractions in Yellowstone National Park. The spring's remarkable oranges, yellows and greens are the result of pigmented bacteria proliferating around the mineral-rich edges of the water. In contrast, the gorgeous blue hue found at the center is pure, clear water sterilized by the extreme heat.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Hverir, Iceland

Photo: Tsuguliev/Shutterstock

Hveraröndor Hverir — Krafla, Iceland

The otherworldly landscape surrounding the Hverir geothermal area is punctuated by steaming fumaroles, ominous volcanic craters and bubbling mudpools like the one above. Mudpools (and mudpots) are acidic hot springs characterized by viscous mud slurry created from limited water, decomposing microorganisms and surrounding rock and clay.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Chinoike Jigoku

Photo: Rigamondis/Shutterstock

Chinoike Jigoku — Beppu City, Japan

This freaky hot spring is the stuff of nightmares. In Japanese, "Chinoike Jigoku" translates to "Bloody Hell Pond" — a name given for its ominous reddish hue, which is the result of the spring's rich iron oxide content. That's not the only creepy thing about this pond, though. At 172 degrees Fahrenheit (70 degrees Celsius), its bubbling waters have a gruesome past involving torture and death.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Blue Star Spring

Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

Blue Star Spring — Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Not far from the Old Faithful geyser is this little geothermal treasure. The water in this beautiful star-shaped pool typically stays near boiling, and only erupts on very rare occasions (the last eruptions occurred in 1926, 1927, 1997 and 2002). Due to its proximity to Old Faithful, it receives a lot of visitors, which sadly makes it much more susceptible to vandalism and littering.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Santa Ana Volcano Crater Lake

Photo: Milosz_M/Shutterstock

Crater lake, Santa Ana Volcano, El Salvador

This turqoise sulphur lake is well worth the two-hour hike up the 7,850-foot Santa Ana volcano, which also happens to be the highest in the country! Hikers know they're getting close to the top once they catch a whiff of the sulphur that oozes from the lake.

* * * 
 
Deadly hot springs: Jigokudani

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Nagano, Japan

While many of the other hot springs on this list are considered lethal for temperature or toxicity reasons, Japan's famous Jigokudani Monkey Park earns a spot on here for different concerns. Sure, swimming with Japanese macaques sounds fun in theory, but not so much in practice. First off, these monkeys are unpredictable wild animals that could possibly turn aggressive when feeling threatened. Second, soaking in water contaminated by monkey feces is downright disgusting. Still, this unique hot spring is worth an observation-only visit if you ever find yourself in Japan!

* * * 
 
Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.