Wind River Hot Springs
Craig, a longtime friend, came to visit. For the day we planned to head out to Carson Hot Springs Resort (more on that later) for a soak and towel wrap. We arrived at Carson. I suggested that we go for a hike first since I had read that there where hiking trails near the resort. The Wind River Gorge is really beautiful and the woods in the area were certainly inviting. I also read that some folks had found access to the old natural hot springs, Wind River Hot Springs, via certain unspecific paths. Maybe we should investigate?
Without going into too many details, we found the hot springs. The hike was enchanting, full of various challenges and stunning scenery. It ended with a wonderful unplanned hot soak in the beautiful outside.
Wind River Hot Springs is a wild natural hot spring that is located on the Wind River, just outside of Carson which is on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. Carson is a little east of Stevenson, Washington and the Bridge of the Gods, a bridge that crosses the Columbia River connecting to I-84.
The springs are part of a geological hot springs system that also supports the water that is pumped into the historic Carson Hot Springs Resort. I suspect that historically the hot water for the hot springs along the river was more abundant. At the springs you can see evidence of man-made tampering.
Currently there are two soaking pools. There is a large-ish pool that can fit six or seven people, if a little intimately. Down stream about 50 meters is a smaller pool. In between is a pool that appears as if it once held water. Unfortunately it is filled with concrete and you can see rusty remnants of steel pipe. Presumably this was "tapped" to feed Carson Hot Springs or another competing resort that supposedly existed at the turn of the century.
I have a strong suspicion that the existing soaking pools were, at some point, artificially enhanced by dynamite. The shape of the pools just seems unlikely from a geological perspective. What do you think?
This is the larger pool. The spring is pretty well traffiked in the summer by locals and daytrippers from Portland. Craig and I were lucky to visit during a lull in soakers. We had the place to ourselves for 30 or so minutes. I bet a good time to visit would be in late spring and early fall during a weekday when school is in session. Otherwise you might get stuck having to wait a turn to soak with a crowd of teenagers. Toward the end of the day the water can get pretty, ahem, murky.
The downstream pool is a little smaller and more shallow. During our visit it seemed a little warmer too.
If you look closely at the upper area of water in the pool, you can see the ripple of a bubble from the spring.
As far as I know there is currently no legal way of accessing the spring aside from possibly fording/walking up the river. This would be a formidable challenge since the banks have steep cliffs and some sizable boulders. The land on either side of the river is private property and the public land in the area has some very strict "no trespassing" notices. For this reason and due to the fact that it already gets plenty of visitors, I will refrain for going into further details on how to get there.
An important part of our hydrotherapy for the afternoon was the cold dunking in the river. This was done repeatedly to enhance the bliss of the warm soaking. Fantastic.