January 11, 2016
Oregon’s Warm Winter Soaks
By Amy Whitley
Photo at right courtesy of Belknap Hot Springs
Soak it up in one of several Oregon hot springs this winter. Whether accompanying a family ski day or replacing it, Oregon’s commercial hot springs and hot spring resorts make for outdoorsy and unique winter getaways.
Almost always tucked away in national forests, along scenic rivers, and otherwise off the beaten path, hot springs stir a families’ sense of adventure no matter the weather.
Keep in mind that several family-friendly commercial hot springs are also clothing-optional facilities. If that is a concern, call ahead and confirm clothing guidelines.
Here’s where to soak in Oregon, snow or shine:
Bagby Hot Springs
For a decidedly more rustic experience, take a hike to Bagby Hot Springs. Situated in northwest Oregon 40 miles south of Estacada, this natural spring is a local favorite set at the end of a 1.5-mile hike through old-growth forests. Kids will know they’re almost at the end of the trail when they see the steam rising from the ground.
The source of this hot springs is a scalding 136 degrees. The water is funneled into hollow logs, then deposited at a more reasonable temperature into repurposed whiskey barrels, in which hot springs soakers sit. Plan to spend only $5 per person for the day. Bagby is open year-round, but can become inaccessible in deep snow.
Belknap Hot Springs
Located on the McKenzie River near Eugene, Belknap Hot Springs, Lodge and Gardens offers two mineral pools in an idyllic setting that remains casual and family-friendly. Families can make a weekend out of it, staying in Belknap’s lodge or cabins, or enjoy an hour’s soak for just $7 per person.
Even in winter, take kids on the short hike from the hot springs property to the “secret” garden.
In spring or when staying in an RV, camping sites sit adjacent to the river, perfect for more kid-friendly exploration. Note: the upper pool is for overnight guests only.
Kah-Nee-Tah Hot Springs
For families seeking a natural hot springs with a full resort experience, Central Oregon’s Kah-Nee-Tah delivers an interesting mix of family-friendly amenities, adventure, and cultural immersion.
Located on the Warm Springs Reservation, Kah-Nee-Tah’s elaborate spring-fed pool system includes water slides and water play areas, as well as spa services and casual counter food services.
Families can stay on-site in traditional motel rooms, upscale lodge rooms or even teepees from the spring season through autumn. Daily passes are available for those who only need an afternoon’s soak.
More Oregon Family-Friendly Hot Springs
Crystal Crane Hot Springs: www.cranehotsprings.com
Hunters Hot Spring Resort: www.hunters-hotsprings.com
Jackson Hot Springs: www.jacksonwellsprings.com
Summer Lake Hot Springs: www.summerlakehotsprings.com
Umpqua Hot Springs: Closed as of Sept. 19. 2015 due to high levels of bacteria in the water.