The night I remember was cold and still. Through my windshield, Oregon’s Big Empty was sleeping. There had been small rabbits around Prineville, some owls near Brothers, a calf in the road around Malheur Lake or maybe it was Frenchglen.
I was near the end of a seven-hour drive from Portland and couldn’t recall the last illuminated light bulb I had seen. The stars though, were electric. It was past midnight and I had a feeling that I was the only person on the planet. I liked this feeling, at least for a night.
I was bouncing along East Steens Road, gravel kicking up against the truck fenders. Giant Steens Mountain filled one window, the Alvord Desert coming into range was about to fill the other. I was closing in on the Alvord Hot Spring and feeling very much alive.
There have been many adventures to the Alvord and other Oregon hot springs in the years since this one. Each, it seems, spawns adventure; hiking into the Umpqua in a fabulous snow storm, diving into Crystal Crane with the Burns wrestling team and getting towed out of a creek on the way to Three Forks come immediately to mind.
So if you are looking for an excuse to road trip or need a little adventure in your life, Oregon hot springs are waiting to sooth your body and soul.
I love the springs because they are born from our geology, the offspring of hot rock and magma. They are gifts that connect us to lush forests, high desert and deep canyons. Sure, they come with a wild west flavor, but isn’t that reason to go?
From An Appreciation of Oregon, published on Oregonlive