First of all, I’m a little bummed we’ve never spent any time near the Umpqua River before this trip. It is gorgeous. Like all of the other rivers around here, it’s crystal clear, with a beautiful hint of blue. Driving along the river made us wish we had kayaks. Or canoes. Or paddle boats. Or a willingness to swim in 30-something degree water.
Second of all, this stuff is far away. Like, 2 1/2 hours from Eugene. And perhaps that’s why we hadn’t ventured this way before. But it was worth it.
We started with a quick hike (less than a mile from the parking area) to Toketee Falls. The hike climbed up quite a few stairs, but there were strategically placed benches for those faint of heart (at least, we’re assuming the benches were there for rest, as none of them were placed anywhere with a view).
The walk along the river was beautiful, and once we arrived at the waterfall, it was spectacular. You can see where the river has carved through the rock walls before flowing over the cliff. Pretty cool.
The best part may have been standing in what seemed like a giant tree house overlooking the falls.
From the falls, we hopped back in the car and drove a few miles to Umpqua Hot Springs. Warning: 2 miles of this drive is on a gravel, pothole-filled road, so drive carefully.
Oregon has a bunch of hot springs, but I’ve never been brave enough to visit any of them before. Mostly because I’m terrified of nudies. You see, Oregon seems to have a pretty lax policy on clothing in general. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve encountered naked folks around here. And from what I’ve read, hot springs are places that encourage nudity. Hence this warning in the parking lot:
Other things that made us a bit nervous in the parking lot:
-A horrendously stinky bathroom. Hint: if you need to go, stop a few miles back at Toketee Falls and use the less horrifying one.
-The number of beat up vans in the parking lot.
-The very stereotypical Oregon hippie crowd. (Not exactly the folks I’d choose to be around in my swimsuit, especially if they are naked.)
But we pressed on, hoping that the number of people hanging out in the parking lot meant we would have the actual hot spring to ourselves. So we crossed over this cute little bridge for a short hike up a narrow, steep hill to the pools.
And, indeed, we did have those hot springs to ourselves, which made the whole situation much more pleasant. Umpqua Hot Springs is comprised of several different shallow pools staggered on a hill overlooking the North Umpqua River. Pretty cool.
What wasn’t quite so cool? The super uncomfortable squishy, slimy bottoms of the pools. But if you wear some water shoes and try to hover over the bottom of the pool, it’s pretty nice. (Also, try not to think about how many nudies have sat right where you’re sitting.)
I bet this place would be amazing during a snowfall, or on a crisp Autumn day. Perhaps we didn’t plan our hot springs visit at the best time, since it was approximately 80 degrees outside. You could say it was a little “too hot in the hot tub.” But the extra warmth encouraged us not to spend too much time at the hot springs, which was good, since a couple of nudies came to enjoy the pools as we were preparing to leave.
We should give a big shout out to the Bloems, without whom we wouldn’t have survived the potholed road (our poor non-SUV has had about enough of the potholes around here), and would have given up at the sight of the hot springs groupies.
A few things to note before you visit the hot springs yourself:
-You have to pay $5 to park at the hot springs unless you have a Northwest Forest Pass.
-Use the bathroom somewhere else.
-Wear water shoes (Chacos for the win).
-Be prepared for nudies.
Here’s to officially calling ourselves Oregonians!