In search of hot springs

There’s nothing like a soak in a hot spring at the end of a day of cycle touring, but finding one can be a challenge. There are quite a few along the tectonic boundary in Western USA, so we were on the lookout on our ride south.

Our first attempt was in Mt Rainier National Park. A hot spring was marked on the map, so we parked our bikes up and went for a look. We did find it, but a muddy puddle almost big enough to lie down in wasn’t what we had in mind. That didn’t stop us getting in though.

This was not the hot spring, but was much nicer to look at
This was not the hot spring, but was much nicer to look at

Just north of where we joined the Columbia River, we heard talk of a natural hot spring a short walk down into the local gorge. We found some directions online and set off. A steep muddy scramble, past a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, followed by some precarious rock climbing in a canyon took us to where the springs should be, but all the rain had raised the level of the river and drowned the pools.

 

A little awkward when damp

Our third attempt was just down the road from the Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort. Again, we’d heard tell of a local free hot spring. We asked a few locals and after some dead ends and after pitching our tent nearby in the dark, we found a car park up a gravel track that matched the description we’d been given. After finding the hidden trailhead, a short easy hike along the river brought us to the best hot springs we’ve seen outside New Zealand.

Breitenbush at night

A labyrinth of man made pools of varying sizes and shapes lay near the river bank. Multiple hoses had been fixed to the scalding hot spring so that the water could be directed into whichever pool you wish, resulting in pools with a range of temperatures from far too hot to freezing cold and everything in between. It was a clear starry evening, and we soaked in the springs for over an hour.

They were so good we went back the next morning for some more.

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