The Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is near Detroit, Oregon, nestled on the banks of the Breitenbush River in the Willamette National Forest. Also called the Old Bath Houses at Hot Springs, they have been there for a hundred years and are now the ruins of a resort.
Upper Breitenbush, where the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat & Conference Center is located, is a short distance of 600 feet from the Lower’s ruins of cement hot spring pools.
For years, the local Kalapuya, Wasco, and Molalla tribes have relied on the hot springs’ healing properties. In the 1840s, settlers first visited the springs, which were later evaluated for development.
Mark Skiff, who was born and raised in Salem, asked the Forest Service for permission to build a resort near the lower hot springs at the beginning of the 20th century. Skiff’s Camp, as it was called, was a resort that spanned the river on both sides, complete with thirty cabins, a lodge, a restaurant, a store, baths, and a pedestrian bridge.
After suffering a flood, Alex Beamer bought the upper springs in 1977 and transformed it into a conference facility and retreat.
The lower springs are in a deserted state. Even though these tubs are in bad shape, they are still a popular tourist spot because they have the remains of soaking pools and natural rock pools. The abandoned houses, bridges, and swimming pools made of concrete are a stark reminder of the area’s former glory and present decay. This may be a wonderful place to go for a bath in peace and comfort.
Natural Hot Springs
Over thirty springs release the geothermally heated water here at 356°F, and after reaching the surface, the water cools to about 150°F. An extensive blend of minerals exists in the water, including a mix of calcium, lithium, magnesium, quartz, and more. Due to a lack of upkeep, the water is mostly hazy.
There are now two large concrete pools, a few smaller tubs, and a pair of corroded bathtubs beside the river at Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs. Tubs may be made extremely hot or cold by adjusting water supply lines. A few hoses carry the heated water from the mains to the spas and swimming pools. The area is free to use.
There are two ways to reach the hot springs: a short hike or driving over the river. Refrain from attempting to ford the river when the water level is very high during the spring.
To get there on foot, walk the half-mile trek down to the thermal springs from the parking lot. First, to reach the river, hikers must follow a beautiful pathway that passes through a dense old-growth forest of Douglas-fir and Western hemlock. Follow the river until you find the path leading upstream, where you’ll find the thermal springs.
No camping is permitted at the Lower Springs, but the Upper Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat is a great place to spend a few nights near the thermal pools and the forest. The Breitenbush Campground is in the Willamette National Forest and is another nearby option for overnight stays.
Address: 53000 Breitenbush Rd SE, Detroit, Oregon 97342 (Retreat address, but the old bathtubs are just a few feet away)