Post Summary: A Desert Soak at Alvord Hot Springs In SE Oregon
Deep in the heart of the high Oregon desert is a hot spring suited for only the most adventurous of folks. Like many other Oregon hot springs, these pools are surrounded by a unique landscape, for a one of a kind soak!
You have to be willing to drive pretty far from big cities like Bend, Oregon or Boise, Idaho to reach this place, and even then it’s a solid 4-hours drive.
However, if you have the patience to make it all the way out, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Steens Mountain range and a piping hot soak in the all-natural and nearly-primitive Alvord Hot Springs.
Last month, Berty and I went on an epic Utah National parks road trip and made sure this was one of our stops. We’re here to share with you what to expect and how you can make the most out of this remote, adventurous hot spring in the desert of Eastern Oregon!
A Gem in the Oregon Desert: Alvord Hot Springs
Before we begin, it’s important to share that while pretty much everything around the Alvord High Desert is public land, the place where the actual hot spring sits is private property.
Soakers must pay a day-use admission of $8.00 (current as of March 2018), or if you decide to camp for $20 a night, you get 24-hour access to the pools.
We highly suggest staying overnight – the drive alone is quite the feat and on a clear night, you can see the stars while you relax in the hot springs!
How To Get To Alvord Hot Springs + How To Prepare:
A visit to Alvord Hot Springs is an iconic stop on any great road trip itinerary in Eastern Oregon.
It’s important to remind you that there is absolutely nothing nearby – really, the closest nearby town is a ghost town. Make sure to fill up with gas, pack plenty of water and food, and have blankets for cold nights if you plan to stay.
To get there from up a city north like Bend or Boise, take Highway 78 until Folly Farm Road and take it south for 43 miles.
This road quickly turns into Fields-Denio Gravel Road, which will force you to drive slower, making it about an hour’s drive once you turn off the highway.
During the drive, you’ll get a front-row seat of the Steens Mountain Range, which we, unfortunately, didn’t take pictures of. Berty and I want to come back and explore the area – Steens Mountain is quite a beautiful sight!
The Pools At Alvord Hot Springs
For a long time, Alvord Hot Springs were used freely by roaming visitors, but the pools were vandalized and in poor condition.
Since 2013, the Davis family decided to clean it up and make it a commercial venture to keep it under control. Since then, it’s been a pleasant place to soak, and the hot springs live on! You can read more about their history here.
Currently, there are two soaking pools side by side. One is under a structured shelter and the other is open to the elements. There are two pipes feeding water into the pools – one hot and one cold. This way, you can control the temperature to whatever feels best for you!
The pools have a small changing room, as well as a covered and uncovered bench to keep your stuff off the ground.
It was built with all these convenient features, but they were still able to leave the majority of the space open to the views around it. Please follow leave no trace principles, and these easy hot springs etiquette tips to keep this place beautiful and open for years to come!
We spent both sunrise and sunset soaking in the pools!
As we mentioned earlier, pretty much nothing is directly nearby Alvord Hot Springs.
This is part of the draw of this place! However, if you’re down for a few hours drive, here are some ideas of things to do and posts we’ve written about in the area:
- Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs
- Willow Creek Hot Springs
- Hart Mountain Hot Springs
- Leslie Gulch in the Owyhee Wilderness
- Salt Creek Falls
- Sahalie and Koosah Falls
- 16 Epic Things To Do In Boise, Idaho
Have a ton of time? Take an epic Oregon Coast road trip!
As a reminder for all our hot springs posts, please remember the following etiquette when soaking in the Pacific Northwest. This is including here at Alvord Hot Springs:
Excerpt from our Pacific Northwest Hot Springs post:
- 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 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.
Want More Hot Spring Ideas? Read These!
Want more inspiration for your next visit to Alvord Hot Springs? Check out our Pacific Northwest Board on Pinterest for more ideas!