Paulina Lake Hot Springs, in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon, consists of numerous thermal springs that emerge from the bottom of Paulina Lake. Formed during the collapse of a volcano, these hot springs typically range from 90-115°F, with the source water temperatures being as high as 176°F.
Paulina Lake is one of two alpine lakes nestled in Newberry Caldera, a large volcanic crater created hundreds of thousands of years ago when the overlying volcano’s rocks collapsed. In one of the most active geothermal areas in the United States, the hot springs water bubbles up from the depth through the black and red volcanic gravel.
Natural Hot Springs Pools
The hot pools at Paulina Lake are primitive, to say the least – typically featuring circular dugouts within the sandy banks of the lake, bordered by rocks and wood. There are five or more man-made pools along the quarter-mile length of Hot Springs Beach.
In winter and early spring, when the lake is the highest, the hot springs on the beach are submerged. During late spring-summer, the best time to visit, the water levels drop and the pools become exposed. The temperature of the water depends on the time of year and can range from warm to very hot, so be careful to check before soaking.
If you are sensitive to the smell of sulfur, this hot spring is perfect for you, as there is no rotten-egg odor. The road in is closed during the winter, so wait until later on in springtime to visit.
Paulina Lake Hot Springs is located within the Deschutes National Forest, and there are camping areas relatively close if you choose to stay overnight. While camping and fires are prohibited on Hot Springs Beach, the Paulina Lake Campground and Little Crater Campground are both excellent options.
The Paulina Lake Campground is located on the south shore of the Lake and includes amenities such as potable water and restrooms. There is a usage fee for both camping and RVs and it is recommended that you make prior reservations for this campsite.
The Little Crater Campground includes 49 camping sites and is found almost at the edge of Paulina Lake. The campsites can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. There is a fee for this campground and it offers potable water and flush toilet facilities.
Both campgrounds are available between May and October. Additionally, there are also a handful of backcountry campsites available at North Cove Beach, which is about 1-mile west of North Beach.
The drive from Bend, OR takes about 50 minutes and spans nearly 40 miles.
From Bend, Oregon:
- Drive roughly 23 miles south on US Highway 97 until you reach Paulina East Lake Road.
- Take a left turn onto Paulina East Rd.
- Drive about 14 miles east until you reach the Little Crater Campground.
- Make a left turn at the Little Crater Campground and travel to the end of the road.
- You will know you have arrived when you see the Paulina Lake Hot Springs Trailhead.
You can reach Paulina Lake Hot Springs from either the Paulina Lake Hot Springs Trail or the Hot Spur Spring Trail.
The Paulina Lake Hot Springs Trail is longer, covering over 7.5 miles around the picturesque Paulina Lake loop. This hike is perfect for experiencing more of the natural beauty of the Deschutes National Park. The Hot Spur Trail is a 1.2-mile hike across the eastern shores of Paulina Lake with extremely limited elevation.
Address: Paulina East Lake Road, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon 97739
Season: Spring, Summer, Fall | Road closed in winter
Camping: Not allowed on the Hot Springs Beach
GPS: 43.719 121.209