People have been visiting the replenishing and tranquil hot springs along the Breitenbush River long before westerners started keeping records. In a visit back in the 1880s, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice John B. Waldo was so inspired by his experience that he wrote to then President Grover Cleveland:
“There are educational uses in mountains and the wilderness which well justify a wise people in preserving and reserving them for such uses... where, in communion with untrammeled nature and the free air, the narrowing tendencies of an artificial and petty existence might be perceived and corrected, and the spirit enlarged and strengthened."
Waldo’s letter, and his subsequent correspondence with President Cleveland, led to the creation of the Cascade Forest Reserve, which encompasses an area that today includes all of the national forests of the Oregon Cascades.
The hot springs are preserved and maintained by a working cooperative, the Breitenbush Community, who manage the 154-acre Retreat and Conference Center along with the hot springs. Subtly engineered over the last 80 years, there are three main soaking pools kept at 108, 105, and 101 degrees, along with four smaller “tubs”. The center also hosts a sauna, showers, restrooms, dining, lodging and regularly scheduled healing workshops.
Note: Breitenbush Hot Springs is privately run. Access to the hot springs and the rest of the entire facility is $15-28 per day. Visit the Breitenbush Retreat and Conference Center website for more details.