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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Not a hot spring per se, but Crystal River, FL has The Rainbow River( its actually in Dunellen, FL). Its a gorgeous river that you can tube down and free dive to numerous hot springs that come up into the river. Crystal River has natural springs and the Manatees come there from Nov-March. You can swim with them and its freaking amazing. They are like friendly dogs in the water, they come up to you, roll over for belly rubs, etc. You must see that at least once in your life.
Wow! That sounds very cool!
We often follow the spine of North America staying at hot springs along the way. One of my favorites is an untouristed place in Northern Mexico.
Can you remove my last name?
We were just at Frenchman’s during the wildfires in OR but I didn’t know about the hot springs. That woulda been a nice sit as it was nice and quiet then. Little Rock once had beautiful springs in the NPark but now they’re all commercialized. ;-( Bagby, near Portlandia was a nice place but the rangers cut the old log tubs up after a string of troublesome incidents like you mention. Saw a primitive hot spring on the RioG at BBend NP. Are there others in that park, do you know?
I think there’s just the one along the river in Big Bend. I soaked there too! It was awesome and the stars were unbelievable.
I was just at Big Bend last week and they had the hot springs closed down due to Covid. Would have loved to relax in there, only hot spring I have been to was Colorado and really enjoyed it.
Everybody should encounter a hot spring at least once!
I visited a hot spring in remote Australia once and it was truly memorable. Lovely to see you enjoying yourself again.
Hi Jessy! I used to do hot springs, & your wonderful descriptions brought me back in my memories… thank you so much. Happy new year! 🙂
Thanks for reading and happy new year to you too!
So awesome! I love hiking/ walking through the woods too! Bonus you got to soak in hot springs. Of course, I could soak in the Great Lakes, many rivers, streams, ponds, or bogs that surround me; however, the icy water wouldn’t be as fun!
Great blog Jessy! I stumbled across your Tiny Home Tours YouTube bit which brought me here. I love RVs and the lifestyle. You’ve got real talent at storytelling. I hope you keep it going.
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It changed my phone number and don’t let me change it. (719)251-2495
Estacada Hot Springs outside of Oregon City, are along the road and built into the river. Haven’t been there in years, but a great spot. then there is Baker Lake Hot Springs outside of Bellingham. Need complicated directions to find it on Forest Service Roads so Mander would not make it, and then you have to hike in. But maybe if you met someone in the area you could go with them.
I don’t know you but after watching a video of you on YouTube I can tell that you are not only beautiful on the outside but you are more beautiful on the inside… You are very inspiring… Thank you!!! If you are ever around Daytona Beach Florida I would love to meet you!!!
Hi from AUSTRALIA Jessie , I watched your marvellous vid on youtube , I am seriously thinking of going on the road , so am gathering info , I intend to hire first just to tryout .Best Regards Wayne H.
I think its great what you do. I would love to go for it as you have done. I’ll find out how to get a video chat going with you. I think you stated in one of the videos I seen that you give advice over the phone.
Yes, you can use the “shop” link above to see what your options are for speaking with her.
Have you ever considered a recirculating shower. It doesn’t take a huge water heater and you need some filters and UV light, but it gives you several unlimited showers before you have to change the water. If you are not using the black water tank, perhaps there would be room. I’ll bet your Dad could help you figure it out. You have already done so much, this would be a great addition to Mandor.