Autumn in the Pacific northwest is beautiful but crisp. After sweltering summer days, it can be tempting to stay cozy inside instead of bundling up and heading out. Don’t let this spectacular season pass you by. Oregon has an abundance of hot springs nestled in a variety of of landscapes so you and your little adventurers can get a taste of our great state’s diverse beauty while chasing the chills away. Read on to find out where your next family soak should be.
photo: Brian Uhreen via flickr
Bagby Hot Springs
Only an hour and a half drive from Portland, Bagby offers visitors a breathtaking 1.5 mile hike along a trail that takes tiny trailblazers over the Collawash River on a foot bridge and then through a Late Successional Reserve Forest filled with old-growth fir and cedar trees. The hike alone is enough to ignite imaginations and get the heart pumping. After walking approximately 45 minutes you will come upon the hot springs which feed three rustic bath houses. The main bathhouse is called the Private deck and has five rooms that each have a soaking tub made from a hollowed log. These rooms offer optimum privacy for those who prefer some alone time. If your crew feels like socializing or is large in number, the Public Deck—located behind the Private Deck—has three hollowed out log tubs and a big soaking tub that comfortably fits 8 people. This area was made for communal soaking so it’s great for making new friends.
Another communal area called the Upper Deck, is just south of the main bath house that has an additional soaking tub capable of fitting up to 16 people. If the tubs are full or the crowds are large, be a good bathing buddy and limit your soaking time to no more than 1-2 hours. That’s plenty of time to get toasty for the crisp walk out.
Camping if fall can be tons of fun, but you’ll have to wait until you are out of the hot springs area. If you continue on the trail .25 miles you will come across Shower Creek Campground where you can post up for the night. Otherwise, the trip home is sure to be nice and relaxing.
photo: Neely W. via Yelp
Belknap Hot Springs
Almost three hours away, this destination deserves a spot on your weekend calendar. Belknap is located on the McKenzie River in Central Oregon. For an overnight stay you can choose between camping in your tent or RV, booking a cabin, or reserving a room in the Belknap Lodge. There are two mineral pools that give the kiddos room to play while the whole family stays warm in the crisp fall air. The Upper Pool is for over night guests only and the Lower pool is accessible for day use.
If you burnout on soaking and water play, there are acres of magical garden areas to explore. Make your way through the mystical Secret Garden, wander through the Forest Meadow, or relax on the Bigelow Lawn. There are bathrooms onsite and changing rooms for those only stopping by for day-use.
Insider tip: All children mus t be two years or older and fully potty tried to be in the hot springs area. Swim diapers are not allowed.
photo: Anne M. via Yelp
Terwilliger (Cougar Hot Springs)
If you frequent Eugene, then you must stop by Cougar Hot Springs. Just a short hour’s drive away from Eugene and three hours from Portland, this natural hot spring is at the end of a stunning 1/4 mile hike along a trail that takes you through primitive woodlands and soaring trees. As you hike you will come to a beautiful lagoon with the Rider Creek waterfall rushing into it. There are Six pools separated by rock wall and they range in temperature from 85 degrees (perfect for little swimmers) to 112 degrees. This is a wonderful opportunity to have the hot springs experience in a natural setting.
Terwilliger Hot Springs Trailhead, Cougar Dam Rd
Blue River, OR
Day use: $6
Hours: Closed sundown to sunrise and Thursdays forrom 8 a.m.-noon for cleaning
Breitenbush Hot Springs
Unplug and connect with either a day trip or weekend retreat at Breitgenbush Hot Springs and lodge. This sanctuary is a two-hour drive away from Portland. It is surrounded by 154 acres of national forest and has several hot springs, a glacier-fed river, and amenities that allow you to stay and enjoy as long as your want. Breitenbush has three natural pools. One is silent and reserved for people looking for a place to meditate and relax. The rest of the pools are conversation and family friendly. Each hot spring vary’s in temperature and there is even a cold-plunge pool.
If you decide to stay the night or for a couple of nights vegetarian meals meals are served three times a day in the lodge dining hall. Between eating a soaking there are hiking trails to explore, a meditative labyrinth to walk and a sanctuary to relax or meditate in. You might even catch a concert in the lodge on occasion.
Lodging options include a variety of cabins, lodge accommodations and tent camping sites.
Insider tip: clothing is optional in the soaking pools but required outside of the soaking area.
If you don’t feel like leaving town for a hot soak, check out some of Portland’s local family friendly soaking pools!
Do you have a favorite family hot spring? Share it with us in the comments below.