5 Steamy, Dreamy Hot Springs Worth an Oregon Adventure
Water is key to Natalie Joy’s jewelry-making process: Each one of her angular pieces is shaped using a super strong jet stream, and, when she’s not making earrings that look like a chic T-square or triangular brass pendants, trips to local hot springs help her relax and come up with new ideas. “I’m a water sign, and I feel like I only get fully charged from soaking,” explains the longtime Portland resident. Get your feet wet—heck, your whole body, even—with her guide to Oregon’s greatest natural hot tubs.
“A few summers ago, I decided that I needed to go on a little personal quest to figure some stuff out, and I found out that Lane County, near Eugene, has the highest density of hot springs in all of Oregon. I went to McCredie first—it’s off the side of the road, and in the wintertime, you can’t even see it because usually the water levels rise so high that it covers it. In the summertime, the water goes down, and there are pools that you can build rocks around to hold the hot water in. You can also move them to let the river water in and adjust the temperature.”
“If you’re brave enough and you get a big stick, you can also cross the river, and on the other side, there’s a giant hot spring—all you can see is steam coming across the river. It’s hard to get to, so no one’s ever at that one, which is pretty great. Close to there, there’s also this old Boy Scout camp that has hot springs, called Kitson. It was really hard to find—I ended up getting directions from a police officer. It’s private property, but I decided to test my luck. I found it, and it was beautiful. It covers a giant river, but unfortunately the cement walls have eroded over time—so the water just flows over the edge. It was still so cool. There’s old cabins and a stage, and it’s slightly scary and surreal.”
“This place is located at the far-left corner of Oregon’s Great Basin. It’s in a flat field surrounded by mountains, run by this old hippie dude who bought it in the eighties and put a bunch of cute, tiny cabins on it you can rent. There’s a main barn that’s super old, and when you walk in, the whole thing is a pool. There are skylights, and when it steams and the light comes in, it’s like magic.”
“On top of that, there’s one cabin there that has its own private hot spring. It costs a little more to rent that one, but then you have your own spring that’s butted up against a pond and surrounded by mountains and tall grass (so you can hang out in the nude). I went to the barn a bunch of times, but in the middle of the night, to be able get into my own private hot spring was just my dream.”
“You have to hike into this one about a mile, but it’s straight out of a movie. You’re walking through the woods, and there’s these giant trees. I was really scared of cougars, so I was singing songs and waving my hands around the whole time I was hiking in. But you get there, and it’s the most crystal blue water surrounded by rocks and trees, with a little stream next to it. It’s called Warm Springs because it’s the temperature of bath water, and most of the other hot springs are really hot. I just read and drank whiskey, and it was magical. This one is just perfect—you could just lay there all day.”
“I go here a lot because it’s so close to Portland—only an hour and twenty minutes away. The last time I was there, I saw this incredible owl. But it’s gotten so popular that the locals have become really protective of it. I think somebody actually messed with Google Maps because it takes you to the wrong place. And people have hung signs with arrows telling you to go in the wrong direction, too. I wrote the directions down on a piece of paper that I have in my glove box because I’ve gotten lost so many times. You can find the right directions if you look online.”