Umpqua Hot Springs – vanlife | buslife travel guide

Post Summaryyy: If you’re on IG you’ve seen pictures of the iconic hot spring, it is a MUST SEE! We wanted to share with you some tips on how to get there, what to do nearby, and tips for visiting this iconic Oregon landmark. 

Pillows of morning steam drifting from travertine pools of green and orange, nestled amongst the trees overlooking a beautiful river valley, Umpqua Hot Springs looks like something straight out of a travel magazine. Our jaws hit the ground upon first glance. We were so excited to visit these ‘famous’ Hot Springs while on our West Coast van tour and wanted to share with you all the tips and tricks we learned while visiting. 

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Location: in the Umpqua National Forest, a short detour off of North Umpqua Highway

GPS coordinates: 43.2951225, -122.3658739

Umpqua Hot Springs is located in Umpqua National Forest and isn’t all that close to any major cities or towns. To get here, you’ll need to take North Umpqua Highway (coming from the east or the west). Then you will take a Forest Service road to the Hot Springs parking lot. It is just a short (but steep) .4-mile hike to the hot springs.

The top pool is the hottest of them all; the pools lower on the cliff get progressively cooler. In fact, we’d describe the lowest pool as a “cool lukewarm”! The variety of temperatures means you can hopefully snag a pool Goldilocks style — that’s to your just liking (that is if it’s not too crowded!). OR you can progressively work your way up to the hottest pool as we like to do, get our bodies acclimated in the cooler weather right after the hike to prepare for a nice hot soak. 

The Trail to the Hot Springs

The trail to the Hot Springs is rather short but pretty steep, if you have bad knees we would definitely recommend some hiking poles. If the trail is super wet or muddy these might be useful as well! 

We did the trail in our Chaco Sandals, our ‘4wd sandals’ 😂 but they did get a bit muddy so it might be nice to have a pair of sturdy boots. 

We love using the All Trails app to see the most recent trail conditions. 

Pricing $?

IMPORTANT: Unless you have a seasonal pass, you’ll need to pay $5 in the parking lot. 

BRING CASH and a PEN so you can fill out the form at the box in the parking lot.

If you want a pass, which will be handy to visit other Oregon sites, get the Northwest Forest Pass. We found this pass to be a great deal, we definitely recommend picking one up if you will be in the PNW area. And who wouldn’t want to go to these springs more than once?!? You can buy it online in advance (which we totally recommend) or you can pick one up at a local REI. However — if you do forget to do so beforehand you can pay the $5-day fee in cash at the box upon arrival. 

Make sure to display your forest pass on your dashboard OR pay the $5 BEFORE you hike into the springs so you won’t be ticketed.

Driving Times

Good to note you will probably lose cell service at some point, so maybe screenshot the directions and keep your GPS up. The roads are partially dirt/gravel roads, which can be worn out in spots and rather bumpy. To handle the potholes make sure you are in a vehicle with high clearance, 4wd, or you have a good driver.

Bend to Umpqua Hot Springs: (121 miles) 2 hours 22 -minute drive

Portland to Umpqua Hot Springs: (282 miles) 5 hours 25 – minutes drive

Bandon to Umpqua Hot Springs: 147 miles ( 3 hours drive)

Salem to Umpqua Hot Springs: (192 miles) 3 hours 20 -minute drive

Roseburg to Umpqua Hot Springs: (64 miles) 1 hour 20 – minutes drive

Our Tips & Tricks!

We visited in the late fall in early October and didn’t need snow tires or chains but keep in mind that these hot springs are in the mountains. If you visit in the winter, you’ll probably need chains and you’ll need to keep a watchful eye on weather reports.

Bring a lot of water — more than you think! These geothermal pools can seriously dehydrate you, make sure you are drinking lots of water to stay safe and healthy! 🙂

Bring a waterproof bag or coat to cover your belongings while at the springs. We did not do this the first time, and of course, it started raining while we were soaking in the Springs and everything we had ended up soaked. This area in general is pretty wet year-round but the area by the springs is even wetter! We learned our lesson and brought a waterproof backpack the second time around.

Bring Towels — seems intuitive, but some people forget. You’ll want to dry off after your soak, so you don’t have to hike back down soaking wet.

Loose change of clothes — We both brought big T-shirts to throw on after our soaks the second day and it was so nice to get back to the van. Definitely recommend a loose shirt or dress for the hike back.

We’ve heard rumors of a secret hot spring at the base of the river but have not had time to explore it for ourselves yet!

While you are in the area make sure to check out Toketee Falls – which is literally right next door! Sometimes people even refer to the Umpqua Hot Springs as the Toketee Hot Springs because they are so close to one another.

Hot Springs Etiquette

If you haven’t been to a natural Hot Springs before, it’s important to go over the unofficial ground rules to be in the know and to have a fun & safe time!

Keep things clean — remember to always leave no trace so both you and the others who visit can have a wonderful relaxing time. Again please be respectful of the springs so we can all have access for many years to come!

Remember to pack out what you bring in and even leave it a little bit nicer than you found it.

Clothing is OPTIONAL – This is something that can catch some folks off guard! But remember before visiting that clothing is optional and you may be around naked people. We’ve encountered plenty of naked folx at the Hot Springs over the years, heck we’ve even been the naked people a couple of times. 😉 People are usually very friendly and no one is ‘weird’ about it, but don’t feel pressured to go in the nude if you are not comfortable with it!

Be Respectful of others — treat others as you would like to be treated and you’ll be fine! Be respectful, don’t trash the springs, and be friendly to the others who are visiting. If you see litter in or around the pools try to pull it out, don’t take pictures of naked people — it’s not cool. Be a good person and you’ll be fine and have a great time!

Leave No Trace Principles

Umpqua Hot Springs is a DAY USE-only area, it is open only from sunrise to sunset. Occasionally the trail is closed due to weather conditions so please keep that in mind and make sure to check with the forest service before you go. Please keep that in mind during your visit, abuse of the rules can lead to access to these areas becoming limited or completely closing to the public. Which would be such a shame!

To read more about the 7 Leave No Trace Principles — CLICK HERE 

In brief the seven principles are listed below, if you are unfamiliar with them it is always best to read up on the practices on the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics webpage.

  • Plan ahead and prepare
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  • Dispose of waste properly (in this case PACK IT OUT)
  • Leave what you find
  • Minimise campfire impacts 
  • Respect the wildlife, remember you are in their home not yours
  • Be considerate of other visitors 

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