It’s an age old tradition. From Japan to Iceland to the dusty backcountry of the American west, people have been soaking up the geothermal magic provided by wild hot springs since time immemorial. Interested in taking the ancestral dip? These wild hot springs will be at your service, au natural.
(photo by Peretz Partensky)
Saline Valley Hot Springs, California
This is what would happen if a Mad Max style apocalypse met a Palm Springs resort. Saline Valley Hot Springs are a small oasis in the desert flocked to by artists and eccentrics. The steamy springs are in the heart of Death Valley National Park, down a 50 mile long, bumpy, tire popp’n, oil pan crack’n dirt road. Usually, when a hot spring is this hard to get to, it means they’re really good. Once you arrive you will feel like you are on the surface of the moon, and can soak in ancient healing waters while watching the wild burros ride off into the sunset. Find nearby camping in Death Valley National Park.
Insider Tips: Bring a spare tire, lots of water, and a wide open mind. Avoid coming in the summer and winter.
(photo by David Barry)
Terwilliger Hot Springs, Oregon
If you’re in the mood for a lush soak amidst a temperate rainforest, head to Terwilliger Hot Springs. Not far from Eugene, hot spring enthusiasts can enjoy the soothing waters in the Willamette National Forest’s wooded wilds. The springs offer several cascading pools of varying temperature, and are popular for those looking to celebrate Mother Nature in their birthday suit. While camping is not available on site, Slide Creek campground offers the perfect respite nestled on the east bank of the cougar reservoir just down the road. Find nearby camping in Willamette National Forest.
Insider Tip: Only a $6 entry fee (bring cash). Not too shabby to experience one of Oregon’s best wild hot springs!
(photo by Pierce Martin)
Conundrum Hot Springs, Colorado
Looking for a soak with a view? The 8.5 mile hike up to Conundrum Hot Springs will be no ordinary backpacking trip. Once you reach the springs and unload your pack, jumping into this natural hot spring infinity pool will feel close to a religious experience. The setting is jaw-dropping, offering expansive views of towering conifers, craggy peaks, and the Conundrum Creek Valley. The water is a near perfect 102 degrees. This is truly one of Colorado’s most unique experiences, and the company is guaranteed to be colorful. Find nearby camping in the White River National Forest.
Insider Tip: Go on the weekdays if you’re looking to avoid the crowds.
(photo by Wonderlane)
Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon
This is where the pros go to soak. Breitenbush Hot Springs is like a summer camp for hippies, and it’s awesome. Breitenbush features seven hot spring soaking pools, a wet sauna heated by geothermal steam, a river with swimming holes, miles of trails, an actual library with books (time to ditch the iPad), and a historic lodge that feeds you three gourmet vegetarian meals a day. At night patrons cozy up in their own rustic cabins heated by geothermal energy. Included in the price are free workshops such as yoga and spinal movement (EDGU). This is an intentional community and workers co-own the facility, making the price tag a bit more justifiable. Breitenbush Hot Springs should be a must visit on every hot spring connoisseurs bucket list. Find nearby camping in the Willamette National Forest.
Insiders Tip: So you’re a carnivore? Don’t worry you can smuggle in the jerky, but the food is so good you won’t need it!
(photo by Confusedmime)
Olympic Hot Springs, Washington
If you’re hunting down some hot water in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, head out on the Boulder Creek Trail to the Olympic Hot Springs. The 2.5 mile trail leads hikers to a series of “off the beaten path” sulfur soaking pools. Once the location of a historic hot spring lodge, the trail and springs are now a pleasant way to enjoy mountain scenery, waterfalls, a river canyon, and a soothing soak! While the park states nudity at the springs is prohibited, evidence would suggest otherwise. Mark your calendars, Hipcamp will be live in Washington State in June.
Insiders Tip: Bring boots that can get real muddy.
Special note: Clothing appears to be optional at all of these glorious springs, but wear what makes you feel comfortable, be respectful, and maintain an open mind. Most importantly, be sure to lead by example and practice hot spring etiquette and stewardship at these unique sites.