As you know from reading Mechanical Wrap Up, I spent part of 2020 in Washington doing Mander upgrades. I was just about finished with all my projects when the pandemic hit. With so much uncertainty, I decided to stay put until I was a little more sure life on the road during a pandemic was possible.
Finally, in May, I packed Mander to the gills with everything I could possibly need for a good long while and got back on the road. I had been moochdocking for over 6 months and it was time to enjoy living in an RV again. I didn’t buy a home on wheels to be stationary after all!
Finding hot springs to soak in is one of my favorite things to do as a nomad. I’m not much for getting in rivers, lakes or oceans but give me a puddle of hot water bubbling up from the ground and I’m in heaven. Honestly, I think it’s the only way I’ve managed to live without a bathtub to soak in for 3 years.
I hit 6 hot springs since getting back on the road in 2020 and I thought I would share them with you! But first, a few things must be said.
1. Nudity is widely accepted and encouraged while soaking in natural hot springs when appropriate. One of the reasons is because chemicals from laundry detergent and dyes from fabric leach and pollute the water and ground. Some natural hot springs, when regulated, have a no nudity policy but it’s very common to encounter nudity when visiting most hot springs. PLEASE DON’T BE A CREEP. Both in the comment section of this post and if you go to a hot spring with nudity.
2. I’m sharing some pretty special places with you here. If you visit any of these springs, please be responsible and respectful. Don’t bring any glass (it can break and people are walking around barefoot), leave trash, blast music or anything else that ruins nature or the experience for other people.
3. Hot springs are not your bathtub! Don’t use shampoo, soap or shave in hot springs. This contaminates the water and nobody wants to soak in your bath aftermath.
Ok, let’s get to it!
First up, Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon. This shows up on google maps labeled as – Old Bath Houses at Hot Springs*. This might be the best hot springs I’ve ever been to. It starts with a beautiful hike through the lush forest, passing magical streams with mini waterfalls.
The trail eventually runs parallel to the Breitenbush River and opens up to the remains of bath houses built in 1910. The bath houses were destroyed by floods in 1970 but the cement tubs still remain. Those are neat and all but what made this hot springs my most favorite hot springs I’ve ever been to is the claw foot bathtub someone hauled down to the river’s edge. Through a series of hoses, the hot spring water is diverted into the tub. That means you can drain the tub, refill it with your very own clean water and add water from the cool river to reach the perfect temp. Hop in and soak your worries away while you listen to the rushing river, see fish jump and watch birds go soaring by. You better believe my skin was completely prune-ified by the time I forced myself to get out. 10 out of 10 would recommend!
*This area is located in close proximity to Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center. The abandoned bath houses are free but there is a fee to visit the retreat hot springs. That being said, it pains me to report that this area was part of the 2020 wild fires. I know the resort lost a lot of their buildings to the fire but I have no idea about the condition of the surrounding forest or the free hot springs. If you have gone since the fire, please let us know what things look like now by leaving a comment below. Is that life giving tub along the river still in one piece!?
Next up, Paulina Lake Hot Springs located inside the Paulina Lake portion of Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon. There is a fee to enter the park but if you have an America the Beautiful Parks Pass it’s free! Once you’re inside the park, drive to the Little Crater Campground and park in the parking lot all the way at the end by the trailhead. It’s roughly a 1.5 mile hike along the lake to the hot springs and it’s gorgeous!
Pay attention or you’ll miss the turn to make your way down to the water’s edge. Along the black sand shoreline, hot water bubbles up from the ground and mixes with the lake water. Multiple, small, shallow pools have been dug so you can play Goldilocks and find one that’s juuuuust right.
Some people like to take a dip in the lake water to cool off ever so often but I’m happy to just lay in the hot water gazing at the mountains.
Off to Idaho! Idaho has a TON of hot springs but I only managed to get into two. They were good ones though!
Boat Box Hot Springs in Stanley, Idaho is a unique experience! This spot isn’t the easiest to find because you are basically looking for a pull off along side the road 3-4 miles north of Stanley. If you see cars parked, it’s probably the spot! You literally walk down from the road and there are few shallow pools dug along the Salmon River to soak in but the real attraction is the cauldron. With only enough room for a couple people, you might find yourself waiting for your turn but it’s such a one of a kind soak, it’s worth it!
The second one I hit up in Idaho is called Frenchman’s Bend Hot Springs. This is another roadside hot springs along a river but the road is far less busy. There are a couple hot springs across the river, further from the road but you must be willing to wade through to get to them. That’s just what I did and it was much more peaceful and secluded. I enjoyed an evening soak there, watching the stars come out before leaving.
On to Utah! Baker Hot Springs in Utah is located on public land so you can camp there but I would suggest staying clear of the weekends. I arrived early on a Sunday and it was a nightmare. The parking and three small pools were crowded and multiple people were blasting music. I was super disappointed but to my surprise, by the end of the day, almost everyone cleared out and I had a relatively peaceful week there!
Last, but certainly not least, Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe, Utah. I love this place so much that this was my 3rd visit. Due to COVID you must schedule a visit, pay twice as much BUT you get the whole place to yourself for an hour. There are quite a few different soaking pools so it was pretty awesome to have my pick of whatever one I wanted. After your soak, they have showers you can use and you can pay an additional fee to camp there if you’d like. The vibe at Mystic is so my jam, I don’t think I could ever get enough of this place. This last visit was scheduled for 9 p.m. so I wasn’t able to take pictures but here’s a fun GIF from the first time I went!
That’s it! That’s all the hot spring hoppin’ I was able to do in 2020. During these unprecedented times it sure was nice to be able to go to nature’s spa and soak away some stress. Hopefully 2021 will be filled will MORE hot springs and LESS stress. Best wishes in the new year to you and yours!
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Until next time, much love and Mander on!