Travel Oregon: Soak in Oregon’s magical hot springs

One of Oregon’s most distinctive features is its rugged, mountainous landscape. Those peaks, forged in large part due to volcanic activity and converging fault lines, have helped form one of the West’s most alluring — and elusive — attractions: hot springs. Those steaming pools, whether naturally formed or piped into luxurious private tubs, offer visitors and Oregonians alike a chance to relax and recharge in some of the state’s finest mineral-enriched water. Many as far back as the earliest Native populations in the region tout these waters’ healing properties for achy joints, bodies and minds. Whether you’re looking for respite or simply a new adventure, here are eight popular and lesser-known hot springs around the state.

By Justin Bailie

Alvord Hot Springs 

Eastern Oregon

Go for: Windswept seclusion
Fee: $8/person for day use, overnight lodging starts at $30
Season:Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs


Any trip to the southeastern corner of Oregon would be incomplete without a restorative soak in the Alvord Hot Springs. Water emerges from the ground at around 170 degrees Fahrenheit before mixing with cooler water in two secluded concrete pools. The springs, privately owned and operated by the Davis family, offer near-limitless views of Steens Mountain at the mouth of the eponymous desert. A general store offers basic necessities for both day users and overnight guests in the nearby campground or bunkhouses.

By Sachie Yorck

Crystal Crane Hot Springs 

Eastern Oregon

Go for: A high-desert oasis
Fee: Starting at $10 to $15/person for day use; overnight rates start at $57 for rooms and houses, with RV and tent camping available, as well
Season: Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs


A hot-springs resort outside Burns, Crystal Crane Hot Springs has been a favorite Eastern Oregon soaking destination for more than 20 years. Visitors here get the option of soaking in an expansive, 7-foot-deep outdoor pond or ponying up a bit more for a private, cedar-enclosed tub available to both day-use and overnight guests (reservations highly recommended).

By Greg Vaughn

Belknap Hot Springs Resort 

Willamette Valley

Go for: Family-friendly soaks
Fee: $8 to $15 for day use; overnight lodging starts at $110
Season: Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs


This secret soaking oasis lies just off the McKenzie River. These developed hot springs, piped into a duo of large concrete swimming pools, are an easily accessible and family-friendly trip for anyone ages 2 and up. Overnight guests enjoy access to both the upper and lower pools, which hover between 92 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (season depending), while day visitors are limited to the lower pool. Stay overnight to enjoy the acres of nearby gardens and the 26-mile McKenzie River Trail just outside the door.

Courtesy of Breitenbush Hot Springs

Breitenbush Hot Springs 

Willamette Valley

Go for: A wellness retreat
Fee: Day rates from$22  to $38 on a sliding scale; overnight rooms range from $72 to $169/person/night and include three organic vegetarian meals and well-being programs
Season: Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs


A visit to Breitenbush Hot Springs is a much more secluded experience than other off-the-grid resorts on this list. While you won’t have the place to yourself at this highly popular hot spring and sauna, access to the clothing-optional spa is exclusive and available by advance reservation only. The limited space, meant for retreat and relaxation, has no cell service or internet access; only serves organic, vegetarian meals; and does not allow alcohol, recreational drugs (including marijuana) or pets. But what you’ll give up in convenience, you’ll earn back in true disconnection from the outside world.

Courtesy of USFS

Paulina Lake Hot Springs 

Central Oregon

Go for: A natural Nordic spa
Fee: $5 or a Northwest Forest Pass
Season: Summer (with the hot springs best accessed late May through July), unless you packed your snowmobile, skis or snowshoes


Tucked along the edge of a sunken caldera, the Paulina Lake Hot Springs offer a unique soaking experience. After a 1.2-mile hike (or complete the full 7.5-mile loop on your way back), a cluster of shallow, hand-dug pools at varying temperatures lie at the edge of Paulina Lake. Hop between more temperate water (many visitors say the springs are closer to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the cooler waters of the lake itself. From October until Memorial Day, the gate to the caldera is closed. Visitors can still access the hot springs on foot, or with winter equipment including snowmobiles, but the trek in is extended an additional 4 miles each way.

Courtesy of Lithia Springs Resort

Lithia Springs Resort 

Southern Oregon

Go for: Relaxing in luxury
Fee: Rooms with private soaking tubs start at $139/night
Season: Year-round


Why rough it when you can soak in style? While a visit to Lithia Springs Resort is a trip to a resort rather than a clandestine dip in a naturally formed pool, the water soothes just the same. Located northwest of downtown Ashland, the city’s famous mineral-rich water finds its way to your own personal soaking tub, where you can relax in the comfort of your room. An outdoor saline pool and Jacuzzi are also available, weather depending, as well as a tea room, library, spa and complimentary breakfast buffet for all overnight guests.

By Tyler Roemer

Summer Lake Hot Springs 

Southern Oregon

Go for: Stargazing
Fee: $10 for day use; overnight rates start at $100 for rooms and cabins, with RV and tent camping available as well
Season: Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs


Eco-minded soakers hoping to unplug will want to make the trip to Summer Lake Hot Springs resort for its secluded and intentional mindset. The 145-acre resort is home to indoor and outdoor rock pools filled with silky, silica-rich water between 106 and 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Day visitors can soak much of the day away in the pools, while overnight guests can enjoy the added luxury of geothermally heated floors in many of the cabins. Another bonus for overnight guests: Summer Lake is located 50 miles from the nearest light pollution, giving stargazers perfectly dark skies to gaze upon the cosmos.

By Jhamil Bader

Umpqua Hot Springs 

Southern Oregon

Go for: An enchanting forest hideaway
Fee: $5 or a Northwest Forest Pass
Season: Year-round, but check driving conditions to and from the hot springs; prepare for a longer hike during winter months due to unplowed roads


If you follow any sort of Pacific Northwest Instagram account, you’ve likely already seen these hot springs —a trio of terraced, murky, jade-green pools carved out of a travertine cliff face overlooking the rushing North Umpqua River. Water seeping from an active fault between 100 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit keeps all three pools consistently balmy, making this hot spring perfect for chillier days, though you’ll need to work harder for it. During snow conditions, the gate along the road leading to the trailhead is typically closed. Visitors can still park at the gate, but the 0.3-mile hike in is extended another 1.5 miles. Keep in mind that traffic is high at this hot springs — try to go during weekdays, expect nudity and take care to leave no trace (see more etiquette tips below).

Hot Springs Etiquette

Like all outdoor activities, proper etiquette is imperative for both the safety of your neighbor and the site itself. Remember:

Don’t bring anything glass near the pools. Bare feet and bare skin — need we say more?

Pack out all trash, particularly at public hot springs and Summer Lake, which does not have standard trash service. Wherever you soak, aim to leave no trace.

Don’t drink and soak. If you want to imbibe on your hot-springs adventure, drink after you’ve left the hot spring, as alcohol can make issues such as dehydration, dizziness, sleepiness and heat exhaustion worse. Instead, save the cold one for later.

Don’t bathe with shampoos or soaps. Gross — also, it can be environmentally harmful.

Note clothing-optional sites if nudity is an issue. If it’s not, you’ll find your people!

Pack a paper map/GPS if heading to a remote hot spring. Your phone won’t often work in the wild.

Read the story on TravelOregon.com.

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