Picture this: you’re wandering through the wilderness, basking in the beauty of nature when suddenly, you stumble upon a hidden gem that feels like something straight out of a fairytale. It’s a geothermal hot spring, and it’s bubbling with life and energy, just waiting for you to take a dip.
Over time, the commercial world has co-opted these natural wonders, transforming them into sterile, high-end spas prioritizing luxury over the connection to the earth. While indulging in a posh spa treatment can be tempting, it often comes at the cost of losing the authentic, raw experience only nature can provide.
Known to some as Deer Creek Hot Springs, Bigelow Hot Springs retains the authentic connection to nature that first drew people to its healing waters. And as you bask in the warm embrace of the mineral-rich waters, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the Oregon wilderness, it’s easy to see why. Let’s explore Oregon’s charming gem of Bigelow Hot Springs, and what you should consider before making a trip.
|Location||63 miles east of Eugene, Oregon Cascade Mountains, USA|
|Open||Year-round, 6 am – 6 pm|
|Hiking distance||200 yards|
|Road access||Any vehicle|
|Pets||Allowed outside the pools|
Direction and Accessibility to Bigelow Hot Springs
If you’re in Eugene and looking for a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Bigelow Hot Springs is just an hour’s drive away. To get there, follow McKenzie Highway 126 East towards Sisters, Oregon, and keep your eyes peeled for Forest Services Rd NF-2654, shortly after passing Belknap Springs.
Once you turn onto the forest road, cross the bridge and park your car on the right-hand side of the road – parking is free of charge. From there, take the small bushwhack trail on the west side of the bridge, and follow it as it runs parallel to the McKenzie River. Soon enough, you’ll reach Bigelow Hot Springs, the perfect spot to unwind and soak up the beauty of nature.
McKenzie River Trail captured by Erica W. and Laramae E.
What is the Bigelow Hot Springs pool like?
A visit to Bigelow Hot Springs is a delightful surprise for anyone who stumbles upon this hidden gem. While it may not offer the same scorching temperatures as other hot springs in the area, its warm waters and stunning surroundings make it a must-visit destination. Located in Willamette National Forest, right next to the McKenzie River, the hot spring is more like a natural extension of the river than a man-made spa.
There are two small pools constructed by locals and separated both from the river and each other with stones. However, the pools often blend because of the lack of elevation. The river might even cover the entire pool area when the water level rises in early spring.
Bigelow Hot Springs can also get a little chilly during winter and early spring, so the ideal time to go would be during the summer and fall. The hot spring emerges at 104 °F (40°C) from a shallow overhanging cave, making the cave the hottest spot to soak in.
Importantly, thanks to being partially hidden in a cave, Bigelow Hot Springs is nearly invisible from the forest service access road, so if you’re worried about privacy, there’s no need to be.
The pools are sectioned off by rocks and partially sit within the cave where, as mentioned, the spring originates. Large enough to accommodate 5-6 people, the pools provide a cozy and relaxing atmosphere, and you can hear the sound of the flowing river while you soak.
Admission to this natural spa is entirely free, making it a perfect spot for budget-conscious travelers. However, since no facilities are available, be prepared to throw your clothes down on the ground/rocks adjacent to the pool.
Also, similar to the majority of natural hot springs across the US, Bigelow Hot Springs is clothing-optional, so be mindful if you think of taking kids.
Bigelow Hot Springs pools – Muddy yet Healthy
The bottom of Bigelow Hot Springs is quite muddy, with the water in the pool appearing black and opaque. However, it can also provide a host of health benefits.
Despite feeling dirty after soaking in Bigelow Hot Springs, the minerals found in the mud can positively impact one’s health. In fact, hot springs mud baths have become a popular natural treatment recommended by wellness centers and spas.
The minerals in the mud, such as sulfur, silica, and magnesium, help the skin remove dead cells, detoxify, improve circulation, and prevent premature aging.
Soaking in hot spring mud can also help alleviate symptoms of certain health conditions, such as arthritis, eczema, and psoriasis.
While it may not leave you feeling clean, the mud in Bigelow Hot Springs could have numerous health benefits that make getting a little dirty well worth it.
Camping near Bigelow Hot Springs
Deer Creek Hot Springs doesn’t offer any camping sites nearby, but there are several great campgrounds that are worth considering.
One of the best options is Paradise Campground, located a short distance from Bigelow Hot Springs. This campground is well-known for its tranquility, seclusion, and shade, making it an excellent choice for those who want to escape the city’s noise.
Additionally, Paradise Campground is close to McKenzie Bridge, a small town that offers an array of delicious dining options, which is another advantage that visitors can take advantage of.
Another recommended camping ground close to the hot springs is Olallie at McKenzie Bridge. This site is incredibly peaceful, and the McKenzie River runs right through the campground, providing a serene ambiance.
What makes Olallie at McKenzie Bridge stand out is its location near several other fantastic attractions, including the Tamolitch Blue Pools, Sahalie Falls, and Koosah Falls, ensuring that visitors will always have things to see and explore.
Bigelow Hot Springs might not offer one of the most picturesque pools to show off on social media, but that could also be why it’s still one of the less crowded, natural geothermal pools. After all, soaking in warm water when looking at the surroundings of a gorgeous forest and refreshing river is more than enough.
Check out the video to find some other activity ideas near Bigelow Hot Springs!
Frequently Asked Questions
To get to Bigelow Hot Springs, take McKenzie Highway 126 East towards Sisters, Oregon. After Belknap Springs, take Forest Services Rd NF-2654, continue over the bridge, and park on the right-hand side. A short bushwhack trail along the west side of the bridge will lead you to the hot springs.
Follow the trail along the west side of the bridge after parking on the right-hand side when crossing the bridge.
Bigelow Hot Springs is around a 1 hour and 20 minutes drive away from Bend, Oregon.
Yes, Bigelow Hot Springs is open to the public for free every day from 6 AM to 6 PM.
The crowds at Bigelow Hot Springs can vary depending on the time of year and day. Generally, it is less busy than other hot springs in the area due to its remote location and lack of facilities.
No, there are no facilities or amenities at Bigelow Hot Springs. Visitors must bring their own towels, drinking water, and other supplies. There are also no restrooms or changing rooms at the site, so bringing a robe could be a wise choice too.
The best time to visit Bigelow Hot Springs is during the summer and fall when the water is warmest, and the weather is most pleasant. The pool can become chilly in the winter and early spring as the McKenzie River water levels rise.
Yes, Bigelow Hot Springs is a clothing-optional location, so feel free to enjoy a nude soak.