Ahhh…hot springs. A favorite past time of many who live in the Pacific Northwest. Forest soaks are a perfect way to recover from a long hike, a long ski day, or simply to get away from it all and rest. As Berty and I explore deeper into our little corner of the world, we’ve discovered a beautiful collection of these natural springs everywhere! We know there are hundreds to choose from, but in this post, we wanted to start by sharing 5 Pacific Northwest hot springs that are worth a visit.
*Check back to this post in the coming months because we have plans to visit more hot springs this spring! We’re going to update this post with information about them, and how we can be respectful of these places to use and enjoy for years to come. Thanks for helping us accomplish this together!
5 Pacific Northwest Hot Springs You Must Visit
***First of all, let’s start with some hot springs etiquette***
From our experience, Pacific Northwest hot springs can vary greatly – from backcountry soak to commercialized spa. Nonetheless, there are always the same rules/guidelines in place to make soaking an enjoyable experience for you and everyone else. Here are some things we’ve learned:
- Keep it clean. Natural springs and the connecting waterways cannot support soap/shampoo (even the biodegradable kind). Don’t treat it as your bathtub! Nothing should be added to the water except yourselves. 🙂
- Pack it in and pack it out. We’ve encountered PNW hot springs where beer cans were littered everywhere and the water was filthy. Keep it clean for yourself and for other visitors by packing out all your trash. You can even bring an extra trash bag to help out others who have left their waste behind.
- Leave it better than you found it. Some places have been cut off from access because of public misuse. Help it continue to be enjoyed for years to come by being respectful of any boundaries, structures or waterways in place.
- Clothing may be optional. Depending on the location, you may encounter soakers in the nude. You will more than likely see this if you are heading to a hard to reach hot springs. Learn to be okay with it!
- Be respectful of other visitors. Everyone comes for their own reasons. Be respectful of people who wish for a silent soak.
- Be aware of hot springs capacity. Some locations can only fit so many people (some as little as one soaker!) Doing a little research beforehand about size, capacity, and popular times can help you determine the best dates for your visit.
1. Umpqua Hot Springs
Tucked away in the Umpqua National Forest, this natural hot springs is an extremely popular spot for soakers from all over the PNW. We found this place to be more heavily trafficked than other spots, but it still had gorgeous views of the river and hillside. To reach this destination, you need to drive your car on an unkempt forest road (aka POTHOLES) for about 2 miles. After the parking lot, it’s a short 1/2 mile trail to reach the hot springs. Make sure to have a Northwest Forest Pass/America The Beautiful displayed on your car to avoid a ticket!
** The forest road is not plowed during the off-season, so if you’re planning to come during the winter months, add an extra 2 miles to your hike!
2. Gold Fork Hot Springs
If you’re looking for a beautiful and convenient soak, this is the place for you! Twenty minutes east of Idaho’s Highway 55 is an appealing facility called Gold Fork Hot Springs. This is a natural hot spring, but the geothermal pools are harnessed and guided into beautifully created man-made pools for a clean and accessible soak. They have all temperature options within their several pools – from the hottest one called “the lobster pot” to the farthest one that’s suitable for anyone.
Gold Fork has amenities to make your experience an easy one. Changing rooms, towel rentals, free locker rooms, and boardwalk access to their many pools. This place takes cash and checks only, so come prepared with $10 per person and extra if you want to rent a towel or buy snacks!
Read More: Gold Fork Hot Springs Website
3. Trail Creek Hot Springs
Interested in a backcountry soak? This Idaho hot springs will lead you deep down a road in the mountains (20 minutes east of Cascade, Idaho) but also comes with easy accessibility. From the pullout, it was a steep but short walk down to the pools. Of all the hot springs we’ve visited so far, this one has got to be the cleanest! The hot springs and creek run right next to each other, with a simple concrete/stone structure separating the two. There is extremely hot water coming from the pools, but there has been a valve built that connects the river water to the pool. You can open and close the valve to make the temperature to your liking!
This location is free of charge and you can park your car on the side of the road. For a popularity gauge: we arrived on a Tuesday evening and there were already 4 cars. If you want this place to yourself, we suggest getting there early, and coming on a weekday!
You can read about more activities to do in Southwest Idaho here!
4. Scenic Hot Springs
Scenic Hot Springs (in our opinion) is the most beautiful of all the Pacific Northwest hot springs. Just imagine soaking in the middle of a secluded forest with jaw-dropping views! To get to these hot springs, you must turn off an unmarked forest road near Steven’s Pass and hike for about an hour into the forest. Located on private property, a visit here requires permission by the owners (reserve your spot at this site) and it costs $5-$10 per person.
We’ve written a detailed post about what you might expect here – you can read about it at the post below!
Read More: Scenic Hot Springs In The Cascade Mountains
5. Sol Duc Hot Springs
Sol Doc Hot Springs is located in the Olympic National Forest in Washington. The location is a 30-minute drive south of Lake Crescent, in the Olympic Mountains. While natural in surroundings, the actual pools are developed and maintained in a resort setting. The entry fee is $15 per person, which includes access to four pools, all with varying temperatures.
It is closed for the winter but it opens late March for the spring season. Besides staying at the resort, there are many other activities to do nearby. You can explore Lake Crescent (and maybe even hike Mount Storm King!), take a short hike to Sol Duc Falls, and camp at the campground nearby – just to name a few activities!
Talking about Pacific Northwest hot springs seems to be a controversial topic. Lots of soakers don’t like locations being shared, naturally for fear of their favorite places being ruined by reckless visitors. Berty and I believe that blog post or no blog post, these places will be discovered and visited by many people as social media and sharing is a part of today’s culture. Our blog is dedicated to sharing beautiful places in the Pacific Northwest, and with that comes a responsibility to educate readers and share expectations of how we can enjoy places respectfully. We’re here to be a voice and an example of how to properly treat locations so that people can enjoy them for generations. I mean, if people are going to find out about them eventually, wouldn’t everyone want there to be posts about good etiquette and practices available?
Thanks for everyone who supports this journey.We’d be happy to discuss this more and come together in preserving these beautiful places! Finally, thank you to Southwest Idaho and Brundage Mountain for hosting us in McCall Idaho!
There are so many more Pacific Northwest hot springs for us to discover! Which ones are your favorite?
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