breitenbush hot springs

A couple of weeks ago I came across this article, Oregon’s Best Hot Springs, and mentioned to Steven that we should try to visit one this winter. Neither of us had ever been to a hot spring, but I was surprised to see how many Oregon has (13 mentioned in that article, and there are lots more small, hidden ones). The upside of being on the “Ring of Fire,” is that all of that geologic activity can translate into natural hot water (the downside? volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunamis, oh my). The only springs I had heard of were Bagby and Breitenbush, and it turns out that Breitenbush is only two hours away from us, so after some googling, we made a day reservation.

It was a cold, but clear day when we went, and as the temperature climbed just above freezing, it created lots of dramatic mist in the sunlight. I took most of these photos with my phone, so imagine an even more beautiful landscape.breitenbush hot springs

breitenbush hot springs

You might notice that there aren’t any pictures of the hot springs themselves. I didn’t take any, because I didn’t know whether they’d be in use, and I didn’t want to potentially make anyone uncomfortable by toting a camera around while people were bathing. I snagged this one from their website gallery , of my favorite pool during a greener time of the year:

breitenbush hot springs

I did take a photo of this empty swimming pool, though.

breitenbush 5

We thought maybe it was empty because it’s only in use during the summer, but people who work there told us that for insurance reasons, they only fill it when the resort is closed to the public. So don’t expect to be able to swim laps.
breitenbush hot springs

A couple of cool things about this place is that it’s a worker-owned cooperative and community, and it’s off the grid. All of the energy comes from hydroelectric and geothermal sources. Oh, and if you eat there (which you should, because the food is delicious, and there’s nowhere else to eat nearby), all of the food is vegetarian. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes at these vegetarian environmentalist communists at this point, but these are all good things as far as I’m concerned.
breitenbush hot springs

If you go:

  • You need a reservation, even if you just want to visit for the day.
  • Bring a couple of refillable water bottles. Hanging out in hot water for hours can be dehydrating, and I was happy to have my Klean Kanteens.
  • Clothing is optional in the bathing areas, and 9/10 people weren’t wearing any. But it wasn’t skeevy in any way–everyone was totally respectful, and there were parents there with their kids. There were also a whole spectrum of body types. Having never been to a hot springs before, I was afraid I’d be uncomfortable, but it was totally fine.
  • Bring your own towels. If you forget, you can rent them.
  • If you’re into yoga, bring your yoga gear, because they have daily classes.
  • Flipflops are the recommended pool footwear, but we didn’t bring any, and I don’t think I saw anybody else wearing any, either. We walked around barefoot between the close springs, and then put regular shoes on for longer walks.
  • Bring hiking clothes for lovely walks in the woods and by the river.
  • They have massages available, if you book ahead of time. They were all booked up by the time we realized it was an option, so plan ahead.
  • If you go in the winter, bring lots of layers. It gets cold, though it’s a nice contrast to the hot water.

Have you ever been to a hot spring? Would you recommend it? I know hot springs are part of the culture in Scandinavia and Japan, and while it’s not so common here, I’m glad to have discovered it! I’m looking forward to going back to Breitenbush during different seasons, and maybe visiting some of the other nearby springs.

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3 Responses to My Visit to Breitenbush Hot Springs

  1. Lindsi says:

    That’s such great info to know! I’m in Vancouver wa and I’ve been telling my husband we should check one out! Might need to find a babysitter for the day though, I know you said people brought kids but my daughter likes her water about lukewarm. Crazy kid. Thanks for the idea

    • Rachel says:

      Lindsi, the temperatures of the springs are all regulated, and they increase as you go from one to another in a series. Though I don’t think any of them are quite as cool as lukewarm. You might have to scout it out without your daughter, and then bring her on another trip if you think she could handle it :-)

  2. Tammy Thiele says:

    So very cool! I love places like this…marking it for a visit. And your photos are gorgeous.

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