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The Breitenbush hot spring is a clothing optional spring and lodge about two hours outside of Portland.

The whole wellness industry is pretty big here in Portland, so you’ll find centers for it scattered all around the city.

Most of them involve paying a set fee for a sauna and hot tub soak, massages, acupuncture, yoga, or all of the above, and the Breitenbush hot spring is no different.

The retreat center has a large lodge with hiking trails in the scenic Mount Hood National Forest, multiple hot springs, massages, yoga classes, and a meditation sanctuary. There are also cabins if you want to stay overnight at the Breitenbush campground.  

It sounded so very “Portland” to me that I just had to go check it out for a day, and of course, write up my own Breitenbush review to tell you all about it!

 

Breitenbush Lodge

 

How to Reserve Your Spot at Breitenbush

Breitnebush offers a sliding scale of payment, which means that a day pass can cost you anywhere from $20 to $35. They’ll just ask you on the phone and you can pick what you’d like to pay.

I also had to pre-order any meals I wanted for $15 each. I opted for lunch only (served from 1 – 2 pm) but they also have breakfast and dinner daily.

The actual reservation process is pretty old school. It’s still not possible to make one online (but you can check availability here) so you’ll have to call during business hours to lock in your slot and pay with a card over the phone.

 

nature and hiking at Breitenbush

 

How to Get to the Breitenbush hot spring

Breitenbush really prides itself for being off the grid, so they have no wifi or cell service and getting there can be a little tricky. The drive is two hours from Portland and the retreat sits just outside the tiny town of Detroit, Oregon.

When I made my reservation, Breitenbush sent multiple emails that stressed that the backroads are treacherous and if I tried to use GPS I was doomed to be lost in them forever… but that’s not the case.

All you have to do to get there is plug “Detroit” into your GPS and once you arrive you can follow the signs for a few miles until you arrive at Breitenbush. Easy.

 

What to Do at Breitenbush

The most popular activity at Breitenbush is definitely soaking in the clothing optional hot springs.

They have four man-made spiral pools on one side of the lodge and three natural pools on the other with varying heat levels. The last one is the hottest and also requires absolute silence.

I enjoyed soaking in the springs for a couple of hours during my trip, especially when a family of five deer came and ate in the field right in front of us. It was cool to connect with the wild so closely, and I won’t deny it’s an extremely unique experience.

The views from all of the springs are beautiful, but the last and silent pool was definitely my favorite.

 

Silent pool at the Breitenbush hot springs in Portland

 

Because I arrived around 11:30 am I only had about an hour before it was time for the 1 pm lunch in the cafeteria (if you’re an introvert like me you can opt for silent eating in the library as well).

I kind of felt like I was back in school lining up and hitting the buffet, but honestly, the all-vegetarian food was really good. The menu is ever changing but I thoroughly enjoyed the falafel sandwich, salad, and basil lemonade.

After lunch, I went on a short hike on the trails and then soaked the hot springs again.

Around 3:15 I decided I was done, hit the showers, and packed up to leave – only to realize heading out at 4 pm was a huge mistake. I reached Portland just in time for that rush hour traffic, so I recommend timing your departure either earlier or later to make sure you miss it.

 

lunch at the Breitenbush hot springs in Oregon

 

So, Would I Go Back to the Breitenbush hot spring?

Honestly… no.

I really wanted to love Breitenbush and feel ultra-relaxed, but the truth is I just wasn’t a huge fan.

I like wifi and meat, I suck at yoga, and I get bored in quiet places. I know there are plenty of people who are into meditation and getting unplugged to find their inner self, but the vibe just wasn’t for me.

It was kind of relaxing, but by the afternoon the pools were starting to get cloudy (ew) and I was definitely ready to go after only four hours at the lodge.

If Daniel had been there though, I think I might have enjoyed it more.

I’m glad I went, but I also thought $40 payment was a bit steep and that there are other, better things to do in Portland for the price (like go for a free, easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest and then use that money on dinner, drinks, or a million other things).

 

grounds at the Breitenbush hot springs in Oregon

 

Only you can decide if Breitenbush is for you 

Honestly, I know that there are plenty of people who love this place and I really get why they do, but my honest Breitenbush opinion is that the Breitenbush campground and retreat center just isn’t for everyone.

It has its pros: nice mountain views, delicious food, and natural hot springs, and some cons: far from Portland, kinda pricey, and no wifi or cell service.

You know yourself best, so I only hope my Breitenbush review will help you decide if you’ll enjoy the place or not! If you’re interested, give the Breitenbush hot spring a try and comment below to let me know what you think!

Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Portland and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.

 

This article is part of the Positively Portland series. Read the rest below:

6 Pretty Instagram Spots Around Portland

How to Go Hiking Near Portland at Old Salmon River

Then, explore the US series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.

 

I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:

➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.

➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.

Skyscanner and the Scott's Cheap Flights newsletter help me find and book cheap flights and mistake fares.

Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field. 

➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.

➤ Finally, I love hosting my travel blog on SiteGround because they have helpful and responsive customer service and I love MediaVine and CJ for helping me make a living doing what I love!

4 Comments

  1. Wow, fantastic! Soaking in hot springs and watching deer sounds even more tempting than barely lying on a beach as many people do during their vacation!

    Reply
    • It’s definitely a bit more unique than a beach vacation 🙂

      Reply
  2. I’m confused about putting “Detroit” into the GPS. When I attended a weekend-long retreat at Breitenbush, I was a passenger in my friend’s car and she was clear on how to get there. She didn’t mention Detroit. Re: my impression of Breitenbush in general was very similar to yours, Di. I am not very shy about nudity, but many close friends of mine said that’s a deal-breaker for them. What was really nice about staying there for more than a day was the option of soaking naked in the hot springs – albeit with others – at night. Not only were we all less visible to one another, our focus was on the starry sky 😉 And the workshop leader’s generosity – offering me a scholarship so I paid half of the over-all fee and he made little profit from me – made it less cost-prohibitive. The food is very good, but, like you, I am a meat eater – tiny matter, but I think I’ll bring some jerky with me if I go again.

    Reply
    • Soaking in the springs at night sounds absolutely amazing – maybe I’ll have to come back for an overnight and give Breitenbush another try! The road to Breitenbush is in the small town of Detroit, Oregon (which the GPS has no trouble finding) so I just set that point into my GPS and then was able to follow the signs to Breitenbush from there. Besides that Detroit looked pretty small and unremarkable so it makes sense you wouldn’t notice it lol

      Reply

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