Oregon is known for having some of the most beautiful, naturally occurring hot springs set amidst sprawling dramatic scenery. Situated at the end of a long hike, or just off the road, both primitive and developed hot springs are located all over the state.
Providing nature-lovers with plenty of options for soaking while taking in breathtaking views of the mountains, rich forests, and waterfalls, let’s look at the the top Oregonian hot springs. They are just eight out of dozens of hot springs in Oregon.
Here are among the best hot springs in Oregon, in no particular order:
Hot Lake Springs, La Grande, Oregon
Let’s start our soaking circuit in Oregon’s relatively flat and dry Northeast. Near the city of La Grande, about 270 miles away from Portland, you will find the Hot Lake Springs. Discovered back in 1812, this steaming pond became a popular stop along the famed Oregon Trail, with a hotel being built on the site by 1908.
Today, Hot Lake Springs allows guests to access the springs, which claim to be the largest in the world and offer temperatures of 180-200°F. The lake offers several soaking tubs along the shore as well as a bathhouse positioned between the lake and hotel.
The springs are reserved for guests only, but walk-ins may soak in the facilities for a flat hourly rate. Staying onsite means unlimited soaking, and, given the springs out-of-the-way location, staying there is a particularly good idea.
Hunter’s Hot Springs, Lakeview, Oregon
Also known as Geyser Hot Springs, this outpost in southeastern Oregon boasts something most other hot springs lack: a regularly occurring geyser. Dubbed Old Perpetual, this geyser spews out a jet of heated water some 50-60 feet in the air at regular intervals.
While the geyser’s temperature ranges between 185-200°F, the temperature of the mineral pool is 104°F. It is only open to guests of the motel, which is located on the hot spring’s property.
Discovered in the early 1800s, and developed in the 1920s by a man named Harry Hunter, hence the name, Hunter’s Hot Springs became a site of therapy, rest, and recovery. Over the years it shifted into a health clinic due to its perceived therapeutic benefits. As of recent, it has been run as a resort featuring a motel, lounge, and restaurant.
Ritter Hot Springs, Ritter, Oregon
If you like your hot springs with a side of history, you’ll love the quaint backstory of Ritter Hot Springs. This ghost town in Eastern Oregon dates back to the mid-1800s, and due to its high-alkaline water, the springs healing properties have long been treasured by those who made their way to this remote location.
Named after a local settler, instead of its founder who went to prison on ignominious terms, this is an authentic site that can’t help but endear itself to the open-minded guest.
Entrance fees to the main pool and tubs are quite reasonable. For those looking to spend the night, there is an onsite hotel with accompanying cabins. While this site lacks luxurious accommodations, if you’re drawn to its rustic charm and an appreciation of the American Old West, a soak in the naturally heated pools and tubs here are sure to transport you back in time.
Hart Mountain (Antelope) Hot Springs
In the rural backwaters of Southern Oregon’s high desert plateau, Hart Mountain Hot Springs, also known as the Antelope Hot Springs, offers a rustic soak with some great scenery. Offering two pools onsite, guests can choose to relax in either a developed or primitive hot spring.
The developed pool has a squared wall of cultured stone surrounding the springs naturally bubbling water. There are benches and a rail to make your hot spring experience more comfortable, though the bottom of the pool is uneven.
Positioned near the parking area you will find the primitive pool, which has no seats, benches, or railings. When visiting, you’ll be able to relax while taking in the enchanting rounded hills stretching off into the horizon.
The hot springs are located within the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, with the nearest main town being Lakeview. Since there is really nothing in the area, you’re likely to have the springs all to yourself! Bear in mind that the roads are gravel, so it may take you longer to get around than you think.
Paulina Hot Springs, Newberry Volcanic Monument, Bend, Oregon
Making our way to Central Oregon, near the up and coming tourist town of Bend, you’ll find Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a destination in its own rite. Nestled within its broad confines, you will find the Paulina Hot Springs, which are composed of small soaking spots abutting the shores of Paulina Lake.
At times, waves of cold water from the lake will splash into the soaking tub for a refreshing blend of hot and cold. Best of all, the views of the forest-clad mountains will only add to the serenity of your soak.
Accessing Paulina Hot Springs requires a measure of dedication. The trailhead for this two-mile hike starts at Little Crater Lake Campground, the closest location if you wish to stay overnight.
McCredie Hot Springs, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Located roughly between the cities of Bend and Eugene, and accessible right off the Willamette Highway lies McCredie Hot Springs. There is a small fee per vehicle, after which you can soak in one of several small pools along both banks of nearby Salt Creek. With temperatures as high as 130°F, make sure to check the temperature before slipping in these natural rock pools.
Usage is during daylight hours only, and for you naturists out there, this spring is clothing optional. While you’re in the area, and assuming you’ve got your clothes back on, you can view one of the most impressive waterfalls in the state: Salt Creek Falls. With a viewing area not far off the parking lot, you can admire this 280-foot spout of gushing water as it drops into a green-coated basin surrounded by forest.
Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs, Willamette NF, Oregon,
Not far from the aforementioned McCredie Hot Springs is the popular Terwilliger Hot Springs, also referred to as Cougar Hot Springs in reference to the nearby reservoir. This attraction is a multi-tiered array of naturally heated pools cascading through the mossy forest.
With a cave at the top as its source, each successive pool is slightly cooler. And for those who enjoy a cold shock to the system while soaking, there’s a nearby stream that will do the job.
Additionally, there are some rustic restrooms and changing facilities on-site, so you can wait until you arrive to dress for the occasion. Getting there requires an easy, scenic quarter-mile trek through the old-growth of the forest. When you see the steam rising through the trees, you know you’ve arrived!
The modest usage fee is collected at the trailhead, where you’ll also be informed that alcohol and glass containers are prohibited. Once you arrive at the pools, freedom reigns once more, as guests may bathe with as little or as much clothing as they desire.
Umpqua Hot Springs, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon
As if Central Oregon didn’t have enough attractions to draw hot spring enthusiasts, Umpqua Hot Springs, deep within the forest of the same name, is just icing on the cake. Composed of three pools of increasing temperatures rising up the hillside, you’ll have some of the best views while soaking in the natural mineral water.
Located about an hour’s drive off the Interstate 5 corridor, this is a popular place for visitors on the weekend. Like other nearby hot springs, Umpqua Hot Springs is clothing optional.
The springs are open year-round, however, the roads and gates that lead to the quarter-mile trailhead are at times closed due to snow. It turns that short hike into a 2-mile journey in the depths of winter.
The trail from the parking area is short but steep, and while facilities are quite limited, there is a vault toilet. Soaking in these natural tubs to the sound of the rushing North Umpqua River will be sure to soothe both mind and soul.
Those are among the best hot springs in Oregon! Have a fun time exploring these natural Oregonian gems!