Picture yourself just a few hours outside of the city, hidden in the Oregon wilderness, soaking in a steamy hot spring with not a car nor electronic gizmo in sight. Such a place surely only exists for couples on a weekend tryst, right? What if we told you this fantasy getaway is real, and kids are welcome too? If you haven’t started packing the car already, we suggest you start now, because by the time your kiddos have finished Finding Nemo, you’ll be at Belknap Hot Springs saying hello to stress-melting steam relaxation. And before you start worrying about people getting naked, don’t fret: naked is not an option here.
What to know before you go
– Print out directions, your smart phone is not going to help you.
– This place has a list of rules and petty charges that will remind you of dorm days. If you can take this with a sense of humor and appreciate how things stay clean and comfortable because of these rules, you’ll have an awesome time.
– Bring your own beach towels to use at the pool. The towels they hand out, and we would add sparingly, are tiny towels.
– Unless your kids are on a raw food diet, get a kitchen. Buy groceries before you leave the city. There is nowhere nearby to stock up on anything organic or remotely healthy. There’s nothing nearby. The closest is beer, and it’s 8 miles away.
– If you decide to stay overnight, don’t count on cell service or wifi. Rooms don’t have phones. There aren’t even television stations coming into this place. The rooms have VCR and DVD players and the lodge keeps a library of kid movie favorites they rent for $3.00 and $4.00 each.
What to expect once you’ve arrived
Obviously the major attraction here are the two manmade pools full of hot mineral spring water piped in from across the McKenzie River. Pools start at 3 ft. deep where most 4 year olds would be able to touch with their head out of water. The deep end is 5 ft. And parents with rambunctious kids need not fear, as the steam rising up around you and the roar of the river drown out any disturbances caused by splashing kids. And a bonus for the too-big-to-carry kids, they’re sure to get a kick out of being cradled baby-style in the gravity defying hot spring water.
Insider Tip: The colored lights in the pool indicate the hot water inlet. Keep little ones clear of these…they’re hot!!!
Kids will love running around barefoot across the geothermal heated tiles. Adventurous kids can even take themselves to the dining room for breakfast (complimentary with your stay) and let mom and dad sleep in–win! Though the breakfast might be worth waking up a little early for: cranberry juice, fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, toasted bagels, muffins and hot chocolate.
When you’re fingers start to get all puckered, head to the great room full of tables and board games as well as large, well-furnished stairway landings.
Insider Tip: The pools close at 9:00 pm so if you’re trying to schedule solo time to soak, don’t count on waiting ‘til after bedtime.
Need to cool off after the hot springs?
The lodge pool is just out the back doors of the lobby and is open to overnight guests as well as daytime visitors. The upper pool is a short walk from the lodge and open only to overnight guests.
In the pool, children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. To enter the pool area, children must be 2 years old and toilet trained. Swim diapers are not allowed. The upside? You won’t be inhaling chlorine fumes.
Pro-mom tip: Pack alternate suits to avoid getting into a cold, wet bikini. Mornings are a good time to rock some vintage-inspired swimwear. At night you won’t feel the need for as much coverage.
Belknap is close enough to Portland for a daytrip. But really, it’s worth a weekend. There are short walks through the woods at Belknap and places to sled or ski within half hour drives from the lodge. In addition to lodge rooms, there are cabins and campsites too.
Insider Tip: You might not think about staying hydrated while spending so much time in the water, but carrying a bottle of water at all times is a great way to make sure everyone stays happy and hydrated.
Fore more information, rates and reservations call 541-822-3512 or visit the Belknap Hot Springs website.
Planning a family getaway soon? Will you heading to Belknap Hot Springs in the near future? Already been? Share your experience and tips in a comment below.
— Amber Dennis
photo credit: Don Hankins via flickr & RonaldJohn via tripadvisor