"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Soaking in Crystal Crane Hot Springs, Oregon


Before I start gushing about this place, I just have to say that northern Nevada was incredible. Not the towns so much - if they were alive at all they were overburdened with casinos. But the landscape was so different from what I expected. I was imagining Nevada as dry and featureless, but it was wild, remote and dramatic.  We drove through what geologists call the Basin and Range, including the Great Basin National Park.  Both the basins (or big valleys) and the ranges (or mountains) were huge. We drove over, around and through range after range of rocky, snow covered mountains, and green, yes green, valleys.  We'll have to return and give this part of the state more of our time some day. 

So, Crystal Crane Hot Springs is a small, rustic resort with a few cabins, a couple of teepees, tent sites, and maybe 20 RV sites.  It features hot springs that fill a beautiful pond, an outdoor hot tub and four or five indoor private hot tubs.  The RV sites are very basic, with a few full hook-ups and a few more with partial hook-ups spread around a kind of haphazard piece of property.  The folks who run it are great, and there seem to be a lot of live-in staff who are helping to reconstruct the place in some way. 

Now, time to gush. This is a hot water lovers paradise, as far as I'm concerned. I love to soak in a hot bath, and haven't been able to do so for the three years we've been living in the above rig, for obvious reasons. (Well, perhaps not obvious…RV's are usually equipped with showers, and the few that may have tubs have very small ones, that don't even count.)  I am not fond of chlorine or bromine treated hot tubs, but I'll take them. This is something completely different. 

The water comes bubbling up from a well that is naturally heated by geothermal activity deep underground. The water is too hot to bathe in when it hits the surface, so the temperature of the pond is monitored and regulated in several ways - like the sprinklers above.  They keep it at between 100-102 degrees F. The pond is about 6 ft. deep in the middle, and maybe 20 yards across. Heavenly. It is now on my list of peak experiences.

The pond and its shores are made of finely crushed black lava stone. It's very clean, not at all muddy, so the water is clear as can be, and no chemicals! It is mineral rich water, and has a very slight sulfur smell, but nothing like some hot springs I've been to.  The pond is open from sunrise to maybe 10pm. 

I got up early to soak and swim and take a few misty sunrise pictures. I love swimming in warm water. It feels just effortless.  For the three days we were there I was in the pond 2-3 times a day. 

As I mentioned, they seem to be doing some remodeling, maybe adding more RV sites, refurbishing some rooms, laying pipes, bulldozing dirt around, etc. This didn't interfere with the peace and quite of the place. It's in a very rural area between the tiny town of Crane and the larger town of Burns, which has some services. 

After my early morning soak I took a photo drive into Burns and shot a couple of very old farms.  See the standing water? This area seems to have lots of it - springs I guess? It's common to see grassy, soggy wetlands right next to sandy desert and sagebrush.

Crystal Crane Springs are also very close to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (more water - good birding), the Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area (lava fields) and the unique historic Peter French Round Barn, so there's stuff to do if and when you get out of the springs.

Well, that's what we did on our way to Bend, Oregon, where we are now for a month. More on that soon.


  1. This place looks awesome! Thank you for putting it on my radar!

    1. Oh, I do hope you make it there some day, and that you love it as much as I did.


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