Hunter (Heavenly) Hot Springs
By Mara Dobyns
With the rapid changes and constant trauma over the last two years between COVID, California wildfires, and any other personal hardships you’ve experienced through it all, I feel like we all deserve some time. Time to invest energy back into ourselves, time to recover, time to acknowledge what is out of our control and what is in our control which is how we manage our time, how we react, how much energy we allow it to take from us, or we can choose not to let it which is truly where our power lies. Time to focus on what really matters, time to hug our loved ones again, time to make new memories, time to find new inspiration, time to breathe in the present moment, time to acknowledge that we got through it. That we’re still getting through it. That we can and are so much more than these last two years. And maybe just maybe some time for hot springs. Yeah, I want to make more time for that.
Despite Covid still existing my family and I decided it was time to travel again. There’s only so much inside time you can take before you break. So instead, we took a break. We packed up plenty of hand sanitizer, masks, and skis and ventured out into a beautiful, reopening world and it felt so good.
My husband planned this entire trip and honestly? I was thoroughly impressed. We left Westwood, California and ventured about 3 hours away to Lakeview, Oregon. It was simplicity at its finest. In fact, it was so perfect in how it was exactly what I needed at that time that I wouldn’t mind if he planned all the trips from now on. Sorry, husband, but you got this.
We started our drive after work on a Friday evening so it was a little late but totally worth it. We caught a beautiful sunset on the way and by the time we arrived, it was pitch black. Luckily, we were greeted by the glowing, warm white lights wrapped around the building of Hunter’s Hot Springs which would be our home away from home for the next two evenings, and boy was it homey. It was immediately warm, welcoming, and wonderful.
Our room was the the perfect amount of space with a big comfy couch that wrapped around it, a cozy king bed, microwave, mini fridge, TV, internet, and of course a bathroom. My husband brought the camping stove to have the option to make our own breakfast and just by adding that one piece, we had everything we needed. The best part? Hunter’s is super dog friendly so the whole family is welcome.
After bringing our bags in and getting settled we wasted no time, immediately putting our swimsuits on and making our way back to the front office to find out where the hot springs was located. The check in area itself was incredible. Fresh water and coffee was out for whoever needed to quench their thirst or kill a caffeine craving. To the right was an open, spacious bar and restaurant. They even had a 70’s lounge style couch in the corner that was very inviting. It added this old fashioned feel but the entire atmosphere was completely timeless. I was totally captivated by it all. The lighting and the service was warm and straight down the hall was the way to the springs. Not knowing what to expect we welcomed the site of beautiful historic photosw greeting us around every corner as we made our way down the hall and out the back door.
It was cold enough outside to send drastic shivers down your spine, which made us all even more overjoyed at the sight of the heated pool. It wasn’t anything fancy but we didn’t need it to be. It was perfect all on its own. It was steaming and completely void of people.
We made our way in and allowed the warm water to gently, peacefully, soothe our bodies, minds, and souls. It seriously felt that good especially after the drive and that brisk winter air. It’s kind of like magic when you connect with nature and all the elements around you. The way you can see your breathe in the icy air and feel the heat of the water and appreciate every part of two completely different things at the same time and the way it all connects. It’s like natures own special way of recharging you. It’s freeing.
Beyond the pool was an open field and a blanket of bright stars stretching across the sky. Geese made music in the distance. There was this reverence in the air. It made you feel a certain wonder for the world kind of like being a kid again. It was humbling and it was breathtaking.
The night only got better as our friends from Westwood arrived and joined us in the hot pool for some much needed relaxation and conversation. We topped the night off with freshly warmed towels and warm tea on the way back to our rooms. I couldn’t have planned it any better if I tried.
In the morning my husband took full advantage of the camp stove and made us a classic breakfast of eggs and bacon so we’d be fueled for the day ahead. We packed ourselves lunches, grabbed our skis, and headed straight for the Warner Canyon Ski Area who’s website sums them up perfectly as “so much more than snow.” Which upon arriving is exactly what we discovered.
Warner Canyon Ski Area is a family, a community of friends of every age group coming together to enjoy the mountain and endorphins. There’s a deck with fire pits, friendly faces grilling burgers available for purchase, a bar cart, and a single chair lift. It was just our style and the pricing was fantastic. We scored all day passes for just $40 a piece and only $20 for ages 6-12 and seniors. You’re not going to get that pricing or this experience just anywhere.
Despite my sometimes overreactive fear of heights the next several hours were spent riding up the chair lift and making turns and “woo’s!” all the way down the hill. With several routes to choose from for beginners and experts alike (my husband usually spends a lot of his time in the backcountry) we were all thrilled with the options. I was relieved the ski area was just as warm and welcoming as the hot springs, despite how cold it actually was. We spent a great day, with great people, in a great place enjoying the best combination of sunshine and snow.
We capped the day off with dinner back at Hunter’s where most of our group enjoyed a big feast of steak with all the fixings, and I enjoyed the best beat salad of my life. I’m not kidding, I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since, haha. Of course we took another dip in the pool and enjoyed the sunset from the water. It was everything we needed and then some.
Words really don’t do this place justice. It’s hard to explain just how impactful the right place at the right time can be. If you take anything away from this story, I hope you take the time. I hope it’s encouraged you to adventure again and find the good despite the hardships of the past two years. I hope you find your happy place again and I hope nothing keeps you from it. I hope you make the time to be wildly enthused with life, and I hope you savor it.