By Nicole Scopelliti | Photo: Benji Rothenberg
Welcome to the land of the hot springs, where the water is piping hot and worries melt away. A weekend trip to one of Oregon’s beautiful hot springs is a prime way to unwind from a hectic week of exams. Grab your swimwear (or if you’re feeling extra adventurous, choose to go sans bathing suit) and a towel, and prepare to embark on an inexpensive day trip.
Cougar Hot Springs
Arguably one of the most sought-after hot springs by University of Oregon students, Cougar Hot Springs offers a convenient, relaxing escape for those in Eugene. An hour commute via OR-126, these hot springs are easily accessible. Cougar Hot Springs features five cascading pools blanketed by the surrounding forest. Each pool is encompassed by rock features, making this hot spring experience exceptionally unique; bathers are truly submersed in and surrounded by nature. Each bath varies in temperature, becoming warmer as you venture up the cascade of pools. Because Cougar Hot Springs is so popular, you can expect to share the pool with others. However, given the small size of each pool, you’re still guaranteed an intimate and secluded experience. There is a $6 day fee to visit the springs, and $60 season passes are available for frequent bathers; payment is accepted on-site. The springs are closed between sunset and sunrise, however the site is open year-round.
Belknap Hot Springs
Located an hour away from Eugene on the Mckenzie river, Belknap Hot Springs offer its visitors pools that can accommodate the largest of groups. The site features two impressively expansive pools, the upper pool and the lower pool. For those in the group that might not be keen on the bathing experience, the site offers chairs to sunbathe and beautiful natural surroundings to explore. Unlike the more intimate experience Cougar Hot Springs offers, Belknap Hot Springs offers a more open, unshaded environment. These springs are perfect for those looking for a more social, yet undoubtedly relaxing bathing experience. The site also features showering facilities for bathers and a lodge for visitors looking to extend their day trip to a weekend-long adventure. It is important to note that the lower pool is open for day use by the general public, whereas the upper pool is only available for night use by those staying at the lodge. For the general public, rates are $8 for an hour at the springs, and $15 for a day pass. Belknap Hot Springs are open year-round from 9 am to 9 pm.
McCredie Hot Springs
The easily accessible McCredie Hot Springs is located about an hour away from Eugene, and provides visitors with an experience similar to Cougar Hot Springs: a day spent in the breath-taking bounties of the forest and surrounding natural features. Bathing in the extra-hot springs is at no cost to you, making this site highly desirable. The pools are adjacent to the swift Salt Creek, creating a calming bathing experience surrounded by the sounds of rushing river water. Consider hiking the trail to the nearby Blue Pool and then take a well-deserved dip at McCredie Hot Springs.