Almost nothing beats getting into a hot spring at the end of a long day of hiking or backpacking. Lakes and streams are refreshing, but the uniqueness of a pool heated naturally is incomparable.
Why are hot springs so special, though? According to Tom Hillman, Senior Lecturer of Physics at Whitworth University, “Hot springs are a rarity; they require specific geological conditions, i.e. a continuous source of groundwater, a significant source of heat relatively close to the surface and a conduit for the two to be in close proximity and allow continuous flow.” We can benefit from this incredible geologic condition when we take a dip in a hot spring!
Many hot springs around the US have been commercialized, where one needs to pay a fee to enter. There are paved paths with pools of varying temperatures and usually many other people there. But to experience a hot springs in the wilderness is a magical, refreshing, and relaxing experience. I mean, what can beat marinating in the sweat and germs of others? Kidding. Kinda.
So get out there and hike or backpack to a hot spring near you! (Men, it is normal to get sweaty and stinky in the woods. Before you start hiking I would recommend putting on some Dr. Squatch cologne. Now you will probably attract instead of repel ladies with your manly musk.)
Grab a friend or two, pack up, and be aware you are going to want to stay awhile:
1. Travertine Hot Springs in California
Travertine is easily accessible and has views of the Sierras while you relax in the water.
2. Umpqua Hot Springs in Oregon
Umpqua hot springs is also easy to access as the hike in is only .3 miles. Relish these pools of warm water in the cooler Pacific Northwest!
3. Bagby Hot Springs in Oregon
Bagby is unique since a bathhouse and tubs have been built right in the middle of the forest! Enjoy some privacy as you soak in the warm water and beauty of the surrounding firs.
4. Conundrum Hot Springs in Colorado
I backpacked to Conundrum Hot Springs with a couple of friends this autumn and I can say two things about it. 1) It was definitely worth the 17 miles we backpacked. 2) TAKE ME BACK! Dipping into a hot spring was such a reward at the end of the day during a cooler time of year. If it had been a hot summer day I probably would not have relished the soothing and inviting powers of warm water in the mountains as much as I did in the fall.
I hope you have the chance to visit a hot spring this fall (or even winter!) When you return, make sure to lather up and get clean with some Dr. Squatch soap! It will be the perfect finishing touch of your weekend in nature.