While the Pacific Northwest is synonymous with outdoor living and alpine scenes, underground geothermal activity in Washington has led to numerous primitive and developed hot springs appearing across the state. Whether you are looking for a polished, luxury resort or simply want to escape the modern world, Washington has a hot spring site waiting for you.
The best hot springs in Washington are spread across the state and range in accommodations. From the Northern Cascades near Canada to the Olympic Peninsula on the Pacific Coast, full-blown resorts and primitive soaking pools are found far and wide.
And for those traveling during the winter months, combining any of these hot springs with a ski resort trip is sure to round out your Washington adventure. Check out these ski resorts near Spokane and Seattle to plan your snowy escapade.
Here are among the best hot springs in Washington, in no particular order:
Doe Bay Resort & Retreat – Olga
Closer to Canada than Seattle, and nestled among the stunning San Juan Islands, Doe Bay Resort and Retreat offers a whole gamut of activities and natural attractions to complement its hot springs. Getting there requires an investment of time, and there’s a two-day minimum stay policy in effect, but those who do so will consider it time and money well spent.
First and foremost, let’s talk about the soaking options. The spa at Doe Bay Resort and Retreat consists of three clothing-optional outdoor soaking tubs looking out at the water and surrounding forest. A stream runs just off the edge of the balcony, guaranteeing soothing sounds to go along with your soak. Additionally, the spa has a dry sauna and outdoor showers, with separate massage cabins for those willing to splurge.
Accommodations at the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat go from rustic cabins with no running water to deluxe cabins with bathrooms and kitchenettes. For those looking for a unique overnight setting, there are yurts and domes on-site, but be aware that none have running water and only some have electricity. Lastly, there are campgrounds on the property for those wishing for a more ‘natural’ experience.
A real selling point for a trip out to Doe Bay Resort and Retreat is the numerous water-based activities available nearby. Popular ones include kayaking the gorgeous coastline of Orca Island and whale watching tours to see the actual orcas who pass through these waters with frequency. Either way, a nice soak at the end of the day makes spending time at this resort a well-balanced option.
Sulphur Warm Springs – Darrington
Midway between Seattle and North Cascades National Park, a detour into the mountains will bring dedicated hikers to Sulphur Warm Springs.
The primitive pool at Sulphur Warm Springs is only big enough to comfortably accommodate two adults. Temperatures remain at a constant 90°F, and the long hike to get there means your chances of sharing it alone with that special someone is much greater than other publicly accessible pools. It should be mentioned that as the name might indicate, visitors should be prepared for a certain scent in the air.
Reaching the pool requires a mile-long hike and traversing the Sulphur Creek before arriving at your destination. Some have remarked that the trail tends to be overgrown and difficult to follow at times, so be mindful of your surroundings and bring a map if possible.
Scenic Hot Springs – Okanogan Wenatchee NF
Despite its location deep within the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest, Scenic Hot Springs is actually located on private property.
This means that instead of just trekking on your own and showing up whenever you feel like it, erstwhile soakers will need to make reservations ahead of time. Trying to circumvent this arrangement will likely result in your car being towed and other such unpleasantries. And since it’s about an hour’s drive outside of Seattle, many would find it a long way to walk.
Even if you score a reservation, getting to Scenic Hot Springs is no easy feat. The trail is on an incline and follows a power line clearing area before winding through the forest, which typically takes experienced hikers about an hour or more. On the upside, you’ll likely appreciate the soothing waters all the more after a trek like that.
The springs themselves consist of three black tubs fed by a hose that brings the naturally-heated water into the basins. Due to the generous flow, the springs are cleaner than most, and there’s very little sulfuric smell so common found at other remote sites.
There’s some wooden decking for better access to the tubs, and, being perched on a hillside in the forest, they live up to their name in terms of being ‘scenic’. Note that clothing is optional and nudity is quite common, so prepare yourself accordingly.
Goldmyer Hot Springs – North Bend
Also within a two hours’ drive from Seattle is Goldmyer Hot Springs, found some 25 miles east of the town of North Bend at the foothills of the majestic Cascade Mountains. The springs are ‘run’ by a non-profit agency, and reservations are mandatory.
The hike itself is 4.5 miles one-way, 9 miles round trip, and a high-clearance vehicle is recommended for part of the drive. Guests must backpack through ancient trees and waterfalls to reach Goldmyer Hot Springs.
The spring itself emerges from a horizontal mine shaft and cascades into a series of pools. The temperatures at Goldmyer Hot Springs range from 125°F at the source to 104°F at the bottom, where a cold water pool is also available to cool down. There are very limited amenities on-site and no cell or wireless service, so be prepared for a rustic experience.
Olympic Hot Springs – Port Angeles
Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula and the national park that dominates it should already be on your itinerary no matter what the reason for your visit. Those looking to do some soaking along with their visit should make their way to the northern coastline of the aforementioned peninsula to the town of Port Angeles. Nearby, visitors can access a trailhead that will take them to the aptly-named Olympic Hot Springs.
The trail, which was formerly a road, is a moderate hike through moss-covered trees around 10 miles each way. The pools are quite primitive, with a wide range of temperatures varying from pool to pool. These pools are not monitored by the National Park Service, so one should be aware of the usual risks of harmful bacteria.
This can be a popular site, so if you’re looking for a more private experience try to avoid coming on the weekends. Guests visiting these hot springs should know that at times there are issues with road access being washed out, so check ahead before starting your journey.
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort – Port Angeles
If a twenty-mile hike is too much to ask for, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is an excellent option if you want to relax in comfort. With all the usual amenities you’d expect from a National Park Hotel, such as an on-site restaurant, swimming pool, and gift shop, Sol Duc is a prepackaged alternative to a whole lot of walking.
Accommodations are in the form of cabins that come with or without kitchens. If you have a small group, the River Suite is a great option for a rustic getaway.
As for the hot springs, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort boasts four pools of varying temperatures and mineral contents. The Freshwater Pool can range between 50°F and 85°F, while the Mineral Water Wading Pool consistently weighs in at 99°F. The hottest pool is the Medium Mineral Water Pool with temps up to 104°F, while second place goes to the Large Mineral Fountain Pool with temperatures hovering at around 101°F.
Carson Hot Springs Golf & Spa Resort – Carson
Making our way down to the scenic Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon border, Carson Hot Springs Golf & Spa Resort is another fashionable option for the comfort-seeking soaker. With a rich history dating back to its discovery in the late 1800s and the original hotel opening in 1901 (which is still in use), there’s a long record of these healing waters bringing refreshment and restoration for generations.
The modern iteration of this natural refuge bills itself as a place to unplug and relax. To help guests do just that, Carson Hot Springs offers well-equipped rooms with many amenities and complimentary access to the public mineral soaking tub for overnight guests.
Spa treatments and access to a traditional 1930’s bathhouse are also available. Furthermore, Carson Hot Springs collaborates with the Elk Ridge Golf Course and its associated clubhouse for additional entertainment and dining options.
Wind River Hot Springs – Carson
If you’re still in the area of the Columbia River Gorge, there is another soaking option for those willing to put up with the inconvenience. Wind River Hot Springs is a pair of bedrock pools nestled along the banks of its namesake river. The larger pool is generally hotter at 105F, while the smaller pool a few degrees cooler.
Reaching Wind River Hot Springs is difficult as road access is denied by local property owners, and anyone looking to test their resolve will find their car towed. Moreover, there is a nearby bridge that is also designated as off-limits, forcing visitors to swim or walk across a swiftly moving stream, provided guests find a legitimate place to park.
It should also be noted that water levels will affect availability, as the pools are underwater most of the year and only accessible at lower water seasons.
Those are probably the top hot springs in The Evergreen State. Have a great time exploring, and if ya need more, check out this longer list of hot springs in Washington. Happy soaking!