Have you ever been to a naturally occurring hot spring? How about actually soaking in one? A perfect hot tub brought to you by mother nature! Many hot springs have built-in minerals in the water that can aid in overall health. Not to mention, a good soak will really get the kinks out and totally relax you. The hot springs in Oregon are among the best in the country.
Oregon is a land of dormant volcanoes, and as a result, there are numerous “holes” in the earth’s crust. These holes have access to the Earth’s mantle, which produces geothermal heat. And Oregon is a very wet state, so where rainwater tends to accumulate near one of these holes, a hot spring is formed. Water also runs along the various fault lines and up from below, contributing to various hot springs.
My Favorite Hot Spring
My first experience with a hot spring was when I first moved to Portland (many years ago) and my would-be husband and some of our friends went to Bagby Hot Springs, several miles southeast of Portland. It was Christmas Day and we spent a lovely couple of days soaking, staying in the nearby cabin, and exploring the forest. It was here that I soaked naked among total strangers – something this Iowa girl never would have thought would happen to her. After the initial self-consciousness abated , I relaxed into it and the 108-degree water was soooo soothing.
Oregon has over 40 of these hot springs located throughout the state – I’m going to highlight just five of (what I think) are among the best.
Being my first exposure to a hot spring, Bagby has a special place in my heart. It is remotely located about 45 minutes by car, southeast of Estacada, OR. There is a designated parking spot and campground, with a trailhead. Here is where you can hike about 1.5 miles to the hot springs (an easy to moderate hike). Managed by the USDA Forest Service, the hot springs itself has three bath houses. The main house consists of five cedar tubs, each in their private room. There is a lower and upper bath house, with larger tubs for group soaks. Nudity is only allowed on the bath decks (not in the open areas around the bathhouses); as soon as you’re done soaking, you should get that robe back on!
Located about 50 miles east of Eugene, Cougar (or Terwilliger) Hot Springs sits in the Willamette National Forest. There are eight hot spring pools here which flow down a tiered grade. The highest pool is the warmest, the one below is a little cooler, and so on. This is because the thermal source is situated at the top, and as the water flows down to the subsequent pools, the water gradually cools. (Hey, that rhymes!) The top pool is about 112 degrees. From the parking lot, it is just a short walk to the pools.
This is glamping at its very best! Located in Eastern Oregon near the town of Burns, you can reserve a cabin, a teepee or an RV site for very little dough. For groups they have an apartment and ranch house that each sleep 6. For soaking you can opt for either a private bath house with cedar tubs, or hot spring pond. Use of the pond is included with your accommodation rate; however the bath houses rent for about $10/hour (as of this writing). The sweet aroma of the cedar tubs lend an extra layer of relaxation to the sensory experience. Overnight guests receive complimentary coffee and wifi in the common areas, as well as use of the common kitchen.
A 2 hour drive southeast of Bend, OR will land you at Summer Lake Hot Springs. Located in Lake County, Summer Lake is an alkali lake, and as such, has plenty of nutrient minerals to re-invigorate the body. Rent a fully-equipped cabin (or stake your post at a campsite) and enjoy the large, enclosed mineral pool. The pool is filled with a large pipe coming directly from the hot spring. You can stand under the pipe as the healing water pours over your neck and shoulders, or just sit around the pool, and slowly let the minerals absorb into you. Ahhhhhhhh!!!
Located along the North Umpqua Trail, the Umpqua Hot Springs is a welcoming respite from those who choose to traverse the 80-mile Trail, as well as those who just need to sooth their soul in the 108-degree pools. The hike for day-use of the springs is only 0.3 miles from the parking lot. These springs also incorporate a tiered-pool system: the main 3-foot deep pool is the warmest followed below by six smaller and shallower pools carved into the hillside below. Visitors can witness the Umpqua River below, and Surprise Falls across the way. To cool off, simply take a dip in the river.
Have YOU been to an Oregon Hot Spring? Have you been to one not on this list, that you would like to share? Let me know in the comment section below!