Play, Soak, Repeat at Hot Springs Resorts

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by Tamara Muldoon | Photo © Harrison Hot Springs

If there is a benefit to living along the Ring of Fire, it has to be hot, mineral-rich spring water bubbling up in remote and beautiful locations. Some of these hot springs were developed into resorts, allowing guests to soak their aches and cares away while also enjoying the Northwest’s outstanding scenery and recreation. My favorite hot springs resorts offer comfy accommodations, delicious food and many other amenities. And, they all have the “Ahhh” factor—that sound that escapes your lips as you sink gratefully into a steaming pool after a day of active fun.

Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa, B.C.

Stunning lake and mountain views welcome you upon arrival. Founded in 1926, Harrison Hot Springs is an elegant yet unpretentious resort with hotel and cottage accommodations. Located on Harrison Lake, 80 miles east of Vancouver, B.C., this full-service property caters to an international clientele with three restaurants and room service, a lounge, health spa, boutique stores and marina. Of course, the main attraction is its five hot mineral pools.
From film stars to families, retirees to adventure seekers, historic Harrison Hot Springs Resort succeeds at accommodating all in luxurious comfort and with exemplary service. Splurge on dinner in The Copper Room, a throwback to classic resort dining rooms of the past. Nightly, the house band plays popular songs “from 1910 to ten minutes ago” while couples glide around the parquet dance floor.

The lively, small community of Harrison Hot Springs offers shopping, dining and recreation options. Peddle a quadricycle around town, go hiking, rent a kayak or paddle boat, try your luck fishing or join the kids at the floating water park. At only 33 feet above sea level, this fun destination is accessible year-round. Learn more at harrisonresort.com. To find out more about visiting this area of B.C., go to hellobc.com/vancouver-coast-mountains.aspx or to tourismharrison.com.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, WA

Hike. Soak. Repeat. This is the usual agenda for guests who escape to the peaceful seclusion of Sol Duc Resort within Olympic National Park, an hour’s drive from Port Angeles. Come for the day or stay a while in the resort’s basic yet comfortable cabins next to the Sol Duc River. RV and tent campsites are also available. Although some cabins include kitchens, the lodge restaurant dishes up three squares a day, and a small store stocks essentials and souvenirs.

Three hot pools of varying temperatures ensure that one is “just right.” A fresh-water swimming pool serves for lap swimming or a cooling dip between soaks. Overnight guests have the pools to themselves for the first hour each day. Enhance your relaxation by scheduling a massage.

There are several local trails, but don’t miss the easy 1.5-mile round-trip hike through old-growth forest to Sol Duc Falls, a triple cascade plunging into a narrow, rocky chasm. For a change of pace, rent kayaks and paddle nearby Lake Crescent. A National Park admission fee is required to access Sol Duc Resort, which is open seasonally. To plan your escape, go to olympicnationalparks.com. To learn more about visiting Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, go to olympicpeninsula.org.

Bonneville Hot Springs Resort, WA

After hiking in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area, head to North Bonneville on the Washington side of the river and ease your tired muscles in the mineral pools at Bonneville Hot Springs Resort. A cavernous cedar-paneled room holds an oversized indoor swimming pool, wading pool, hot tub and sauna. Just steps away, the garden courtyard and outdoor hot pool beckon.

Better yet, make a weekend of it by reserving a room at this full-service resort located an hour east of Portland. Just off the eye-catching atrium lobby are spacious guest rooms whose balconies overlook a landscaped central courtyard or wooded grounds. Some rooms include a private mineral water soaking tub on the balcony.

On-site services include a restaurant, lounge, coffee shop, room service, boutique store, and European-style health spa with more than 40 treatments to choose from. Recreation options abound—sightseeing, hiking, cycling, golf, fishing and more. For more information, visit bonnevilleresort.com. To find out more about visiting Washington’s Skamania County, go online at skamania.org.

Belknap Hot Springs Lodge & Gardens, OR

An hour’s drive east of Eugene on the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, Belknap Hot Springs resort feels like a mountain summer camp, except it’s open year-round. Belknap offers two hot mineral pools, hotel-style lodge rooms, family-sized cabins and tent or RV campsites.

Inside the Lodge you’ll find a gift shop, guest lounge and changing rooms. An outdoor patio has a unique fountain and seasonal cafe. Explore shaded trails to find the surprising Secret Garden, a formally landscaped, walled enclosure reminiscent of an Italian villa.

Hiking, fishing, golf, mountain biking and skiing are popular pursuits here, as well as rafting the McKenzie River, which flows through the resort. After watching groups of rafters whoop and holler as they speed by on the McKenzie’s non-stop rapids, you’ll rush to arrange a rafting excursion at High Country Expeditions’ convenient on-site office. To discover more, see belknaphotsprings.com. For information about visiting this area, go to eugenecascadescoast.org.

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa, OR

Boasting 300 days of sunshine annually, Kah-Nee-Ta Resort on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation is the place to go for sun and outdoor fun. At this oasis on the Warm Springs River in Central Oregon’s high desert, guests can go swimming, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking or rafting, or play golf, tennis, basketball and volleyball.

Located 2.5 hours from Portland and open year-round, Kah-Nee-Ta consists of the main Lodge and the Village. The family-friendly Village features the resort’s most popular attraction: its double-Olympic-size hot mineral pool, kept a comfortable 92˚F for all-day swimming. Kids love the two water slides and adjacent snack bar, while grown-ups seek out the hot spa pool. Also in the Village are a health spa, gift shop, guest room complex, RV sites and teepees for camping.

Seeking a quieter pace? Try the Lodge’s well-appointed guest rooms and heated, fresh-water swimming pool reserved for Lodge guests only. Warm Springs Grill serves casual fare, while the Chinook Northwest Grill offers a more sophisticated menu along with a scenic view. Be sure to order Indian Fry Bread with house-made huckleberry jam with your breakfast. See kahneeta.com for details. For information about planning a Central Oregon vacation, visit visitcentraloregon.com.