Belknap Hot Springs Resort is a family friendly, rustic lodge/campground resort that is situated on the banks of the stunningly beautiful upper McKenzie River. There are two hot swimming pools on the premises that are fed from hot water piped across the river from the actual spring. The larger pool is between the lodge and the river and is open to guests at the resort as well as for day use. The smaller pool is away from the river and is for overnight guests only. The resort can be crowded in the summer, especially on holiday weekends.
The lodge was remodeled in the 1990s, and the rooms are starting to look a little dated. The rooms are spacious and clean, with some offering views of the river and the hot pool. They each have a unique configuration, so be sure to check out the pictures on Belknap's website before booking. The resort doesn't have a restaurant, and only one of the lodge rooms has a kitchen (though almost all of the cabins do). In the summer an outdoor grill serves adequate fare, and a small general store in the lodge sells modest provisions. Dogs are not allowed in the lodge rooms, but they are in some of the cabins.
Across the river from the lodge is a walk-in tent campground as well as extensive semi-formal gardens and a network of well maintained hiking paths. The surrounding area offers extensive opportunities for outdoor adventure. The McKenzie River Trail offers 26 miles of unparalleled hiking and mountain biking as it winds its way past waterfalls, deep pools, and lava rock outcroppings. The river itself offers exceptional fly fishing and Class III and IV whitewater. The old McKenzie Highway is nearby, opening up access to the Three Sisters Wilderness area and the moonscape of lava rock on McKenzie Pass.
The resort has a long history as a hot springs destination. It is the only remaining example of a number of similar establishments that sprung up in Lane County in the late 19th Century. It has been in continuous operation since the 1870s except for the decade from 1968-1978. During its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s celebrity visitors were common, including Cary Grant and Herbert Hoover. Be sure to take the time to look at all of the fascinating old photos of the resort that are displayed in the lodge.
Belknap Hot Springs resort is a little rough around the edges, but the fascinating history, stunning surroundings, and excellent outdoor access make it a great place to visit, especially in the off-season when crowds are gone and the chill in the air makes the hot pools that much more inviting.