Oregon trip, Day 5.
After two wonderful days of kayaking, swimming and hammocking on Big Lava Lake, we hit the road again, this time to Belknap Hot springs. On the map they look pretty close to our camp, but due to the rugged mountainous terrain there is no straight road, so we had to drive to Bend first and then take road 20 through the Sisters and to the McKenzie River valley.
It was farmers’ market day in Bend, so of course we got some tasty goods for everyone, as well as a good cup of coffee! Looney Bean coffee house has a spacious garden overlooking the river for outdoor seating.
Our next stop is Sahalie Falls on McKenzie river. There is a viewing platform within a couple minutes of walking from the parking lot equipped with restrooms. Those 30 m (100 ft) falls are gorgeous and powerful!
Some 20 minutes more drive and we arriving to Belknap Hot springs. The resort offers different kinds of lodging: a three-floor lodge with 18 rooms, separate cabins, RV and tent camping. When we planned our trip, all the tent spots were taken, so we booked a room in the lodge and our friends booked a cabin. Both options are good, however the cabins are definitely more comfortable with more space, a full kitchen, fireplace and outdoor fire pit and picnic table.
There are two mineral hot pools, both are 103°F: the upper and lower pools. The upper pool is a bit smaller and better shaded. Because of the pandemic its use restricted the max to 25 people at any given time. You have to sign up for a certain one-hour time slot at the reception desk. The lower pool is right outside the main lodge, is larger (and thus does not have a limit on the amount of people), and you can use it anytime between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. There is a bridge to the other side of McKenzie river with a nature trail to the left, and tent camping, three cabins, and the local garden to the right.
For those not staying in a resort, they sell day passes to the pools for a modest $8 a day.
Keep in mind that you'll be experiencing a true digital detox: there is no cellular connection on the resort grounds. There is still a landline at the reception for emergency calls though.
Overall, despite of being somewhat outdated, it’s a nice place. The rustic lodge with 18 rooms was built in the 1870-s! The resort has operated continuously since it was first developed in the nineteen century with the exception of a ten-year break from 1968-1978, and most of the time it was owned by one family.