Juntura Hot Springs – Primitive Riverside Bathing in Eastern Oregon

Just off Highway 20, Juntura Hot Springs (also known as Horseshoe Bend Hot Springs because of where it is on the bend of a river) is a primitive hot water source that is popular year-round. 

Though it is close to the highway, which makes it an ideal place to recharge yourself on your drive through Oregon, it is also secluded enough to be relaxing, with minimum noise at night, and in the daytime offering scenic views of the Malheur River and the rolling hills beyond, as well as the most incredible sunsets.

The main pool at Juntura Hot Springs
AddressCentral Oregon Hwy (US 20 W), Juntura, Malheur County, Oregon 97911
Location2.5 miles east of Juntura on US 20
Road AccessHigh-clearance to the springs, or All Vehicles to parking area, then a 0.5 mile walk. Fording needed to reach the springs
Water Temperature105°F – 115°F

Important to know is that Juntura Hot Springs is not accessible during high water and spring runoff. The Springs’ 115°F thermal water source, in the largest of the pools, is on an island, with the runoff flowing into other, smaller, pools on the riverbank. These are edged by rocks placed there by previous bathers. Being an island destination,  you will need to ford the channel from the mainland either in a high clearance vehicle, or by walking through the river. Doing so in high waters is entirely at your discretion – out of hunting season, which sees hunters abound in the area, you’ll likely only have yourself to rely on. Our advice is only attempt to access this spring during dry weather and when there is a low water level. If you get there and find it impossible to cross, not to worry – click here for other hot springs in Oregon to try!

Juntura Hot Springs is made up of a selection of pools on an island, separated from the river by a line of rocks. The largest and hottest of them can accommodate some 20 people, measuring around 15 x 30 feet, and is around three feet deep- perfect for those looking for full-body bathing. In summer, it can be too hot to comfortably soak in and is more enjoyable in cooler weather.

From the main hot pool, the mineral water flows down to the other, smaller riverside pools. You’ll also spot other springs bubbling up through the sand. The short distance from the source is enough to make bathing (sitting or laying) there much more comfortable – and if you feel yourself getting too warm, you can shift a rock or two that divide the pools from the river and let the cold river water in to merge with the hot spring water. When the river water level is high due to spring runoff, the smaller pools get completely submerged in the river.

At times when there aren’t many other people around (or hunters- who tend to gather there post-hunt in the fall), you might be lucky enough to see some local wildlife. Previous visitors have spotted antelope walking along the ridge, Osprey catching fish, and Blue Heron flying above.

Summer Bathing

Use the riverside pools, where the cold river water can be let in to adjust the pool to your ideal temperature. The floor of these pools is made up of pebbles, but ones not so large as to be painful. That said, water sandals are recommended.

Winter Bathing

Use the central pool, where the water temperature should be warming (but still hot for some) 105°F. Bring a bucket to carry river water to the main pool for your own form of temperature control. The floor of this pool is earth, which can end up making the water a bit murky, but which means it’s super soft and comfortable to sit on. Just keep in mind as you sit there feeling warm that if you came on foot through the river, you’ll have to wade back out through that cold water again! Make sure to bring good water sandals to protect your feet from the heat bubbling up from the depths!

View from the Springs island to the mainland

Interesting History

At the southern end of the main pool, you’ll notice a memorial cross for a young man who drowned in the hot springs in 2006 after a few hours spent soaking there with his father. According to local news sites, police suspected alcohol was involved in his death.

The memorial cross at Juntura Hot Springs.

How to Get There

THE EASTERN ACCESS POINT – Drive 2.5 miles east of the town of Juntura on the US 20. You’ll find the Juntura Hot Springs (also known as Horseshoe Bend Hot Springs) at a bend in the Malheur river.

Before you cross the bridge over the Malheur river, turn left off the highway. If you’re in a regular vehicle, you’ll want to park just on the right here and cross the old abandoned highway bridge on foot. Depending on what you’re driving, if you’re happy to, you can head on down the very bumpy track in your car.

After that old bridge, you’ll see an arrow directing you to turn left and follow the river downstream. The hot springs are around half a mile further on.

Check out this interactive map by dyeclan.

If you’re not in a high clearance vehicle, you’ll have to ford the river on foot. A stick to help you keep your footing is advised. Don’t try crossing if the water is deep and fast-flowing, as it is during spring runoff. In low water, you’ll see rocks laid out to mark your way across. 

The hot springs are easy to find once you’re on the island.

THE WESTERN ACCESS POINT – Before you cross the modern bridge over the Malheur river, turn left off the highway. Pass the old abandoned highway bridge on your right and follow the rocky dirt track parallel to the river, all the way round until you can see the hot springs island on the other side. This is also the area where campers tend to gather.

Again, if you’re not in a high clearance vehicle, you’ll have to ford the river on foot. Don’t try crossing if the water is deep, fast-flowing, or during spring runoff.

Can I Stay There?

There is a lot of flat land suitable for camping near to the Juntura Hot Springs island, although it is best accessed in high clearance vehicles as the track is rocky. As these are BLM lands, you can camp carefully and considerately where you like. There are no amenities of any kind in the area, other than fire rings, so you need to bring everything you need with you (and be sure to leave it cleaner than when you came!).

On those fire rings, note that there’s no wood, and it can be windy in the area. Do NOT light a fire during fire season. It can spread, causing untold damage and injuries, and in any case is illegal and will get you into trouble. If it’s not windy and you do light a fire, make sure it is totally out before you walk away.

Check out this campground review video from ArboursAbroad.

If you’re looking for something a bit less primitive, the town of Burns is your nearest bet for a roof over your head for the night, 58 miles and about the same in minutes away west of Juntura town. Burns has an Americas Best Value Inn, featuring an indoor pool, jacuzzi, and classically decorated rooms that offer a refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker. Alternatively, try the OYO Silver Spur Burns Hwy 20, described by previous visitors as “old but clean.”

Americas Best Value Inn Burns

What Else Can I Do in the Area?

Between Juntura and the Juntura Hot Springs, be sure to stop at the Peter Skene Ogden Historical Marker for an impressive view of the town, hilly surrounds, and old railway bridges.

According to the oregonencyclopedia.org: “Peter Ogden’s major importance to Oregon history is his contribution to geographic knowledge gained as chief trader in charge of the six consecutive Snake Country Brigades that operated out of Fort Vancouver between 1824 and 1830. The purpose of these far-ranging expeditions was twofold: First to trap out the streams of the vaguely defined Snake Country of the intermountain West, creating a “fur desert” to discourage American trappers from continuing west toward the Columbia, and second to explore the rivers and mountains of the vast, unknown region.”

58 miles away in Burns, you can pop into the Harney County Historical Museum, built on two levels and featuring a wagon shed and an annex brimming with artefacts that tell the tales of over 150 years’ worth of local characters and businesses.

Also check out Oard’s Gallery in Burns (open 8 am – 5 pm), filled with Native American jewelry and art by local artists, including pottery, rugs, furniture, baskets, and sand paintings. Nine Tribe’s art is on display there, as is that of the local Paiute Tribe.

If you’re looking for more hot springs action, we highly recommend the steaming Snively Hot Springs, which prides itself on being one of the hottest (190°F!) and biggest hot springs in the state of Oregon.

The Takeaway

A nice place to stop if you’re passing, not so good when the river is deep and fast-flowing. We love the beautiful, wild feel of the place, and the way you can move the rocks around in the river to adjust the water temperature to your taste – the perfect primitive spa!

Don’t miss the other hot springs gems the Traxplorio team has visited in Oregon:



The Dos and Don’ts of Visiting a Hot Springs

Every hot spring has its own quirks. Visitors to Juntura Hot Springs, for example, should use caution when crossing to the island hot springs during spring runoff, and when camping in the wild surroundings. For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts” here. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is Juntura busiest?

The springs are popular with hunters during the fall hunting season, and that means not only a fuller camping area but also that you might see some dead animals around.

Is it dangerous to get to the Juntura Hot Springs?

You can only get safely to the island of Juntura Hot Springs when the water level is low enough for you to ford the river. During spring runoff, high water levels can make the crossing too dangerous.

Can I light a campfire at Juntura Hot Springs?

You’ll find plenty of fire rings in the area, but no wood, and it can be windy there. Do NOT light a fire during fire season. It can spread and in any case is illegal and will get you into trouble. If you do light a fire, make sure it is totally out before you walk away.

Why is Juntura Hot Springs also called Horseshoe Bend Hot Springs?

The name Juntura comes from the nearby town of the same name; the name “Horseshoe Bend” comes from the sharp bend in the Malheur river where the springs island is located.

Did someone die at Juntura Hot Springs?

At the southern end of the main pool, you’ll notice a memorial cross for a young man who drowned in the hot springs in 2006 after a few hours spent soaking there with his father. According to local news sites, police suspected alcohol was involved in his death.


While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!

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