Summer Lake Hot Springs
The woman on the phone said, “You’re in for a treat.” Seriously, when was the last time you heard that expression? I felt kind of skeptical, but her voice was full of such sincere enthusiasm. I thought of cake, magic shows, pure childhood pleasures, and oohed appreciatively. I said we’d be there in 40 minutes.
Summer Lake Hot Springs is located in the Oregon Outback of Lake County. It’s a sweeping, picturesque landscape with no neighbors in sight, just panoramic views of the horizon, where mountain ridge meets bright blue sky. The high desert climate meant cold weather on our April visit. Driving in we saw scattered snow clouds in all directions whooshing down on the plane. The resort is open year round, though. The rustic 1920s cabins, which start at $100 per night, are drafty for sure, but the geothermic floors, lavish sun rays, and homey decor make them cozy.
The springs themselves, which have been flowing for thousands of years, are accessible via a couple outdoor rock pools and a bathhouse. Because of the cold and strong winds, we restricted ourselves to the indoor option, but we didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything. The water in the bathhouse, which comes in through a 4-inch pipe at 106 - 113 degrees, is 5 feet at the deep end and plenty spacious. It’s indeed a treat to close your eyes and float. A high silica content in the water gives it a pleasant silky feel.
Guidelines prohibit alcohol in the pools, and families with children are advised against loud voices and splashing. After 9pm, the bathhouse is adults only and clothing-optional.
When you’re not in the pool, there’s no shortage of clouds to watch or stars to gaze at. And we mean that sincerely. Summer Lake Springs, on its website, recommends practicing The Art of Zen, “doing nothing…just being,” and that’s something we can completely get behind, especially in such serene and awe-inspiring surroundings. But if you’re restless, it’s a 30 minute hike to Summer Lake Basin and the Chewaucan River 6 miles away is opportune for fishing.
Make sure to load up on groceries for your trip. Cabins have kitchenettes for preparing meals. The closest restaurant is 6 miles away in the town of Paisley (population 237). Well behaved pets are allowed, and if you don’t want to stay overnight, day use for the pools is $10. They also have RV hookup sites, and you can pitch a tent when it’s not too windy.
There’s nothing like a good hot spring, and this is an especially good one. Summer Lake Hot Springs provides a comfortable oasis for guests while honoring the terrain with green building and design practices. We lucked out with availability, but it’s generally best to make a reservation. You don’t want to miss out on a great experience, which is most important. But also, other accommodation in the area is scarce!