Belknap Hot Springs

A  view of the McKenzie River in Oregon.
A view of the McKenzie River from a trail at Belknap Hot Springs in McKenzie Bridge, Oregon.

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A Spring Break Tradition

We are very fortunate to live in a place where all the splendor and beauty of nature can be enjoyed with only a short drive. In June last year, we took the RV about 55 miles out to Belknap Hot Springs Lodge and Resort. It takes about an hour to get there once we’ve made our stop at the grocery store for perishables and ice. It is a beautiful drive that winds through the mountains along the McKenzie River. We have started a family Spring Break tradition of glamping at Belknap with our friends the Boals’ and have done that for the last few years. Last year, as our Spring Break trip neared its end, we decided to come back in the following month (sans teenagers!) to see the gardens in bloom. In the Oregon mountains, Spring Break is usually still a snowy, rainy, dark, slushy mess. We don’t mind though, because Belknap is a hot spring resort, after all.

Feet soaking in the hot pool at Belknap Hot Springs.
Chillin’ (or warmin”) at Belknap

As we were preparing to head out, we heard from the Boals’ that they would not be joining us on this excursion because they had an accident while retrieving their RV from storage. Don’t worry, everyone is safe, there was damage to the rear end while pulling out to the road on a bump. I felt devastated for them, I know Kim looks forward to glamping as much as I do! Since we were now on what had turned into a romantic getaway for two, we did what anyone else who enjoys play time over chores would do – we picked up a couple of TV dinners and hit the road!
We chose TV dinners to simplify things a bit, since I have celiac disease and cannot have gluten, and Norman does not. I can often create meals that adhere to my strict diet that also make everyone happy, but it is a lot of work for just the two of us. I will feature some of my favorite gluten free glamping recipes in the future.

Chewie riding in the RV
Chewy in his favorite spot, getting excited as we pull in to the resort.

A Rough Winter at Belknap

One of the many things I love about Belknap is the service, everyone is always so friendly and helpful! Kim said they were able to cancel their reservation and get a full refund, even though it was within hours of their reservation.  It was amazing how much work the maintenance crews had gotten done since our visit only a month earlier. A colder, snowier, stormier winter had left quite a mess in most parts of Oregon and Belknap was no exception. The crews had already cleaned up most of the fallen trees and branches, although they were still working to identify and remove the broken branches that had yet to fall. They had also built a new footbridge through the Japanese gardens and replanted the perennials.

The Secret Garden

The weather was perfectly beautiful! We had warm, sunny days all weekend. You may think the idea of immersing yourself in a pool of extremely hot water on a ninety-degree day sounds terrible, but to be honest, it definitely wasn’t. At Belknap, they pump hot water from a tiny spring into two swimming-type pools, one adjacent to the lodge and one adjacent to the RV campground. With the temperatures being so high, they had stopped pumping in the hot water to let the pools cool slightly. It was very comfortable until the third day when the pool was barely lukewarm and not enjoyable at all. They did turn the pump back on later that day. I like to enjoy the hot pool at least three times a day while we are there. Floating in the warm, mineral-saturated water makes me feel great for days after we return home.

A Private Cabin and Hot Pool

With such nice weather on a post-spring break visit to Belknap, we had an opportunity to explore some of the trails and gardens that Belknap has to offer. We were able to see the Secret Garden in bloom for the first time, it is usually covered in snow when we are there. We also heard tale of a cabin rental on site that has its own private hot pool, so of course we had to find it! As it turns out, lovely as it might be, I would still prefer our RV. It is one of the cabins that must be hiked into, and you need to pack in all your things. They provide wheelbarrows to make this task a little more bearable, but I like having everything already packed up and put away neatly in my RV.

There’s a pay phone at Belknap.

Anyone Recognize This?

Every time we are at Belknap, I am reminded that our technologically advanced lifestyle is still in it’s infancy, there are remnants of a bygone era lurking about.
It is great that there is a pay phone on the property, because cell service is likely unavailable and if it is available, it is spotty at best. Probably best, you don’t want to be bothered by your phone while you’re out here anyway.

Just the Two of Us

The sign that marks the turnoff from the highway had fallen from the extreme winter, so we would’ve missed it had we not been there so many times before. Access is otherwise easy, and the RV sites are easy to get in and out of. There are several pull-through sites for larger vehicles as well. Most of the sites have full hook ups, but several of them don’t. On this visit our site only had electric and water, so I was very glad it was just the two of us. Well, we also had our dogs with us,
FU-MANCHU (Chewie) the Pekingese and Sweet Baby Ruben the Min-Pin-Chihuahua mix.
We recently purchased these retractable dog tie outs for them that has made camping in parks a breeze. Be sure you know the park rules, however – some parks do not allow dogs to be tied up.

There is a beautiful field in the center of the RV park that is perfect for setting up a game of cornhole or throwing the ball for Sweet Baby Ruben. Ruben is literally ball obsessed – so much so, that having a ball in my hand keeps him tethered better than a leash! On this trip, we had a visit from Rhiannon (my oldest daughter) and Cody, who were enjoying their spring break from University of Montana. It was a nice surprise – finally someone to play cornhole with!

Time to Go

We are “weekender” RVers. This means that every weekend we can manage, we are out glamping. Sadly, this means the arrival of departure day is always too soon. Over the years, we have nearly perfected our exit strategy. I will cover that in a post soon. I say “nearly” because I like to be prepared for the unpredictable. We have not had any major problems on departure, but did have to use our generator to jump start the RV once when in Eastern Oregon. Don’t ask me how that works, I’ll get Norman to write a post about that!
Once we’ve had our afternoon soak and Norman has put away my chair, it is time to head home. I look forward to going back every Spring Break, and in the meantime wish you all Happy Glamping!

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