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Time for a Soak: 4 Hot Springs in the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski
Belknap Hot Springs | Breitenbush Hot Springs | Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs | McCredie Hot Springs | Overnight Stays

Imagine hiking through a lush forest on a dewy spring morning—and arriving at a bubbly hot spring, where you can soak surrounded by towering stands of Douglas-fir. Or consider a winter getaway, where you can step into mineral-rich pools at vintage resorts—all while the snow falls around you and rivers rush by just a few feet away.

In the Willamette Valley, such scenes aren't the stuff of fantasy: They're everyday occurrences for visitors enchanted by the alleged healing powers and enthralled by the chance to decompress in steaming hot springs.

If you'd like to soak up these peaceful experiences soon, we've put together a guide to hot springs—rustic outposts and developed resorts alike—throughout the Willamette Valley and in the Cascade Range. Keep reading for more on what our hot springs offer, what makes each so special, and which might be right for you.


Please refrain from drinking alcohol while you soak; doing so can cause and exacerbate dehydration and dizziness. Instead, pack plenty of water.

Glass Bottles:

Given the rocky nature of most pools, you'll want to leave all glass bottles back at your vehicle; instead, consider a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.

Leave No Trace:

Be sure to pack out whatever you bring in, so the next group of soakers can enjoy the same experience. Learn more about the Leave No Trace principles.

One of the two mineral pools at Belknap Hot Springs 

Belknap Hot Springs offers a different (but no less serene) soaking experience than any other destination on this list.

For starters, this is the only one of the Willamette Valley's hot springs where nudity is not permitted. And Belknap doesn't host natural hot spring pools—but, rather, two spring-fed pools of hot mineral water. (For these reasons, Belknap is a popular family destination along the McKenzie River.)

One of the pools is reserved exclusively for overnight guests (who can stay in a lodge room, cabin, or on-site camping spot), while the other is available for daytime soaks. And if you need a break from the water, Belknap Hot Springs offers several poolside lounge chairs, as well as gardens for a relaxing stroll. Note pets are not permitted in or around the pools.

What It Offers: 
The resort at Belknap Hot Springs boasts a family-friendly experience, with two mineral-rich pools, in the heart of the Cascade Range and alongside the rushing McKenzie River.

Who'll Enjoy It: 
Families (with children 5 and older), retirees, and those uncomfortable with the lax dress code at other hot springs will enjoy the well-maintained respite—and the options afforded by two serene pools.

$10 for up to one hour of soaking for day visitors between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (fees include shower and bathroom facilities); $125-$200 per night for lodge rooms; $160-$550 per night for cabins; $45-$50 per night for RV sites; $40 per night for tent sites. Overnight guests enjoy free and unlimited pool use.

The  pools are just some of the many attractions you'll enjoy at Breitenbush Hot Springs in the heart of the Willamette National Forest.

The retreat center boasts several soaking tubs and hot springs; a steam sauna; yoga, meditation, and other wellness offerings; massage (for an added fee); overnight stays in the lodge; and more. Breitenbush doesn't offer Wi-Fi or cell service, either, giving visitors the chance to unplug and fully engage with the resort's restorative offerings. 

The hot spring pools and steam sauna are clothing optional, but clothing is required elsewhere on the property. And keep in mind that reservations are typically necessary—even for day-use passes.

One of the pools at Breitenbush Hot Springs / Photo by Tom Robinson

What It Offers: 
Breitenbush Hot Springs hosts the most developed hot springs in the Willamette Valley—yet it offers a holistic escape from the modern world with self-care and wellness activities.

Who'll Enjoy It: 
You'll appreciate the developed nature of Breitenbush if you're new to soaking, and you'll enjoy the amenities if you're looking for a wider wellness retreat and don't mind a lack of cell coverage or Wi-Fi.


Day passes (good from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) cost $35, $20 for children ages 5-12, and are free for children 4 and younger; rates include access to the natural hot spring pools and steam sauna, well-being programs (such as yoga and meditation), the on-site lodge, a library for relaxing and reading, and more. Overnight stays cost $112-$302 per night.

Terwilliger Hot Springs (also known as Cougar Hot Springs) is a popular destination in the Willamette National Forest.

A quarter-mile trail heads through a verdant forest before arriving at the popular Terwilliger Hot Springs (also known as Cougar Hot Springs). There, six soaking pools are laid out in a step ladder-like pattern; the pools are fed by a spring above the topmost pool, so you'll enjoy progressively cooler water as the pools descend-from 112ºF in the uppermost pool to 85ºF in the lowest pool.

The popular pools are clothing optional—but nudity is not allowed within eyesight of nearby Forest Road 19 (Aufderheide Drive). Soakers should also know that the hot springs are closed between 8 a.m. and noon every Thursday for cleaning, and that the area closes daily from sunset to sunrise. The pools are open year-round, but Forest Road 19 is not maintained in the winter—and the road may be covered in snow and ice.

What It Offers:

The varying temperatures at Terwilliger Hot Springs offer a little something for everyone's heat tolerance, and the pools are large enough to accommodate small groups. The surrounding forests of ferns and fir offer an idyllic backdrop.

Who'll Enjoy It:

Honestly, just about everybody—as long as you don't mind nudity or crowds. Consider visiting early in the day and on weekdays to enjoy a bit more solitude.


A $10 fee (per person) can be paid with cash at an on-site pay box; the fee is good for two hours.

McCredie Hot Springs sits in a lush forest—just a half-mile, mostly flat walk from Highway 58—alongside Salt Creek in the heart of the Cascade Range.

A few pools can be too hot for some—temperatures range from 98ºF to 114ºF—but the creek's chilly water feeds some of the pools, cooling them down and creating a more comfortable soaking experience. The pools range from 3 feet across to 35 feet across, and the deepest pool is 2 feet deep. Clothing is optional.

Accessing the more secluded southern bank requires crossing Salt Creek, which can run high and fast—especially after heavy rainfall, and in winter and spring. If the creek looks too swift for your liking, don't chance it. Also note that the hot springs are open dawn to dusk, year-round, for day-use only.

What It Offers:

The shallow pools at McCredie Hot Springs offer a quick getaway from Eugene—it's just an hours' drive—and a cozy soaking experience alongside a bubbling creek.

Who'll Enjoy It:

McCredie Hot Springs is among the most popular hot springs in the region, so you'll want to be comfortable sharing the pools with crowds (many of whom will take the "clothing optional" designation to heart).


Soakers must pay a $5 day-use fee at the trailhead—or display an appropriate recreation pass in their vehicle.

If you're not staying at Breitenbush Hot Springs or Belknap Hot Springs, plenty of other lodgings offer relaxing stays in the heart of the Cascades. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired for a rejuvenating getaway.

Westfir Lodge & Mountain Market resides in a converted office building in the community of Westfir—a short, 20-minute drive from McCredie Hot Springs and about 90 minutes from Terwilliger Hot Springs and Belknap Hot Springs. The comfortable inn hosts nine cozy rooms and a market that sells house-made sandwiches, baked goods, local craft beer, and more.

The upscale Loloma Lodge and Cabins hosts refurbished lodge rooms, historic cabins that date back to the late 1920s and early 1930s, and mid-century cabins from the 1960s—all along the emerald-hued McKenzie River. The lodge sits less than 10 minutes from Belknap Hot Springs and 20 minutes from Terwilliger Hot Springs.

You won't find much lodging around Breitenbush Hot Springs—so spend the night at the new Holman Hotel in downtown Salem, and enjoy a day trip into the heart of the Cascade Range; the scenic drive takes about one hour, 20 minutes each way. For a more rustic stay, try to snag one of three mini cabins at Detroit Lake State Recreation Area, just 20 minutes from Breitenbush.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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