My husband and I recently had the opportunity to visit Breitenbush Hot Springs. The resort and conference center is high in the Oregon mountains, next to the Breitenbush River. It is near Detroit Lake (Hwy 22) and about 90 minutes east of Salem, OR. We visited in late March but there was still snow on the ground and dusting the trees high on the hills. The road is unimproved and bumpy for the last 20 minutes of the drive. Snow chains are not necessary most of the year but we were prepared, just in case.
Breitenbush is a year-round intentional community of like minded individuals. According to their website, their mission is "to provide a safe and potent environment where people can renew and evolve in ways they never imagined". Whole families live and work on the property, leaving a light footprint with sustainable living choices. Hydroelectric power and radiator heat from the hot springs makes the resort entirely off the grid. In fact, you should plan on no cell phone service during your visit as there is no WiFi and cellular service cuts out on the way.
New visitors should be aware that Breitenbush is clothing optional in the hot springs and sauna, and most people choose not to wear anything. I was surprised at how fast I got used to the nudity. I brought a bathrobe and sandals to wear between springs, and wore bikini bottoms. My husband ditched his suit after the first spring and I wish I had done the same, as my robe got very wet from the soaked bottoms. Here is information from Breitenbush's website, about the hot springs:
"The hot springs have been a place of gathering, rejuvenation, healing and relaxation for centuries. A spirit of respect and sanctuary pervades the clothing-optional pools."
There are three rustic rock pools along a path, with differing temperatures. The hottest was 106 - 108 degrees F on the day we visited, very hot! This pool is the farthest out and has a sign asking for silence, to allow meditation and reflection.
The sauna house is also nearby. It is a steam sauna, with the hot spring water running directly underneath the house. You will see many people cooling off on the large deck or in the porcelain tub outdoors.
You can also visit the Spiral Pools, which are four circular hot soaking pools of varying heats, with a cold water plunge. The pools are oriented toward the compass points and bathers are encouraged to start at the warm pool, then increase the heat until you enter the hottest. Then dunk yourself in the cold pool and start over.
The resort is located on large and sprawling rustic grounds, with hiking trails and nooks to discover in every direction. We saw wildlife everywhere; deer, ravens, and a cute albino chipmunk. Visitors are welcome to explore the small sanctuary and retreat buildings, although you may interrupt a small group practicing yoga or just relaxing. The Sanctuary and other buildings have heated floors, which can be very welcome when snow is on the ground.
There are a few rooms in the lodge for overnight guests, as well as primitive cabins and tent camping space, weather permitting. Many people come for the entire weekend for a special workshop or retreat.
The lodge includes a library, sign-ups for massage, and daily schedules for well-being programs like yoga or guided tours. There is also a gift shop on the hill, with a variety of books, cards, meditation tools, and clothing.
Amenities for visitors include organic vegetarian meals served in the lodge, including a choice of hot or cold herbal tea. Buffet meals are included with lodging and can be purchased for day visitors. It's worth it, all the foods were fresh and delicious. For lunch, we had a rice dish, pierogies, borscht (beet soup), and salads. It tasted wonderful after the hard work of soaking for a few hours. There is also clear cold drinking water available everywhere, which is important when soaking in the hot springs.
Day visitors are limited to only 20 a day, so make your reservations in advance. During the summer camping season, the hot springs gets much busier. There are also special events and workshops throughout the year, which can also limit the space. Be sure to check out the website for all the details.
Link: Breitenbush Hot Springs