Breitenbush Review: The Clothing Optional Hot Springs in Portland
Breitenbush is a clothing optional hot spring and lodge about two hours outside of Portland. The whole wellness industry is big here, and 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 Breitenbush is no different.
The retreat center has a large lodge, hiking trails in the scenic Mount Hood National Forest, multiple hot springs, massages, yoga classes, a meditation sanctuary, and cabins for overnight stays all spread across their remote piece of land. It sounded so very “Portland” to me that I just had to go check it out for a day, and of course write this Breitenbush review to tell you all about it!
Costs and Reservation
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), 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.
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 land, 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 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 view from all of the springs are beautiful, but the last silent pool was definitely my favorite.
Because I arrived around 11:30am, I only had about an hour before it was time for the 1pm lunch in the cafeteria (or you can opt for silent eating in the library as well). I 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. However, heading out at 4 pm was a mistake because I reached Portland juuuuust in time for that rush hour traffic. I’d recommend timing your departure either earlier or later to make sure you miss it.
So, Would I Go Back?
Honestly… no. I really wanted to love it 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 think there’s 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).
Honestly, I know that there are plenty of people who love this place and I really get why they do, but the Breitenbush retreat 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 all know yourself best, and know if you’d enjoy the place or not! If you’re interested, give it a try and let me know what you think!
All my love,
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