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Comparing Stewart Springs to Other

Northwest Mineral Spring Resorts

 by Stu Ward

Stewart Springs volunteer assistant manager 2000-2002;

cold plunge keeper 1999 -2014

The U.S. northwest teems with historic mineral spring resorts, each unique: water, environment, visitor and resident/staff vibes, clothing-optional policy, amenities...each nuance flavoring the visitor's total experience.

While Northwest spring enthusiasts tend to cultivate one or a few favorites over time, often for home proximity or being along repeat travel routes, experiencing a new one can be a happy revelation. Once smitten, it often becomes a future vacation point or frequent on-the-road stopover.

The region's more popular and well-established ones are compared and contrasted here. While all veritable gems for spring resort enthusiasts, each has relative pluses and minuses, depending on what one seeks.

They're compared to the best of writer's knowledge, including similarities and differences in spa facilities. Mostly not covered are mineral water properties, massage therapy services or overnight accommodations, often beyond writer's kin. More pluses and minuses are listed for the places most familiar with.

Although Stewart Spring sadly ceased spa operation in 2020, info on what it once offered is left up, with the abiding hope that it might resume under more appropriate stewardship in the future.

Notes: Northern California's Big Bend Hot Springs northeast of Redding, last known is still closed since 2006 (!), rebuilding and getting up to apparently ridiculously steep demands of Shasta County health and building depts.

 "Extraordinary geothermal springs" on Pit River. Check progress at bigbendhotsprings.org 

Also, Harbin, closed for three and a half years after the devastating September 2015 fire, amid intensive and ongoing re-building efforts resurrected 1-19-2019 and is still a work in progress. 

For added depth, numerological vibrations of resorts are included as distilled from both address and name, along with metaphysical import. Many hold that such vibrations influence place's energetics on subtle planes.

Naturally, such comparisons barely scratch the surface. And what one considers a minus another might deem a plus. Some give more weight to the quality of water, natural environs, and/or the body freedom allowed and mellowness of the place; others to lodging amenities, solicitous service, and/or bountiful, health-minded restaurant offerings. Some no doubt want it all. Day trippers don’t care about the quality or price of overnight stays, maybe not even the grounds restaurant: "Just let me soak and sweat in peace a while and I'm happy, mon."

This then is more about comparing and contrasting the  features of the resorts than making any value ratings per se. It's a starting point for further exploring the rich variety of mineral spring resorts the U.S. northwest is blessed with.

Notes: Check given websites for current info. Any prices given only serve as rough yardstick, as they're always changing.

Listed order for scrolling:

Stewart

Harbin

Orr

Breitenbush

Jackson Wellsprings

Wilbur

Sierra

Stewart Mineral Springs

- est. 1875 - 4617 Stewart Springs Road - Weed, CA 96094 - Ph: 530 938-2222

Elev. 4,000 ft. (second highest, after Sierra) - 25 acres

"The therapeutic mountain retreat"

www.stewartmineralsprings.com

Numerology: 9 Vibration by address - keywords: Endings, vision, tolerance, transformation, global awareness, spiritual consciousness, cosmic energy, perfection, "number of God"

 

'1 Vibration by name - keywords: Beginnings, Independence, innovation, leadership, masculine principle, sun energy. (Also strong moon goddess energy in longtime -2222 phone suffix.) Having vibrations one and nine, covering beginnings and endings, perhaps makes place an alpha and omega springs.

Note: as writer's boycotted Stewart's since December 2017, can't supply any more recent firsthand info (or want to). While bathhouse service ended and the building re-purposed, I left up the place's former spa features in hopes of helping vibe in a happier future, one re-opening under new enlightened stewards, realm returning to its former glory, discovering even greater heights in serving the greater good.

Stewart Pluses:

1. Uber-rustic forested old summer-camp ambiance, similar to Breitenbush and Orr, with shake-roofed structures, routed signs; 6 of 13 bathtubs were copious clawfoots

2. Quick access off Interstate 5 (12 minutes) like Jackson Wellsprings

3. Grounds restaurant, like Harbin, Breitenbush, and Sierra. (see minus #13.) Visitor-accessible piano (when restaurant open) like Sierra, Orr, Wilbur (?) and Breitenbush

4. Huge two-tiered 17X17' sauna with fire-view wood stove, attendant-stoked. Wood heat warms bones far better than gas or electric, which all others are except Breitenbush, which is geothermal(!). Holds up to 35 sitting; 9 to 13 lying down. Silence policy to foster meditation and relaxation

5. Creek cold plunge, fed by snowmelt lake, is true cold plunge (sometimes break ice in winter). Harbin has small, refrigerated plunge. Jackson, Wilbur & Orr have ambient-temp. outdoor mineral pools doubling as plunges; Breitenbush has flow-thru bathtub by sauna and can make snow angels in winter to cool off; river's currents apparently too strong

6. River runs thru it (often-strong creek, actually), like Breitenbush. In contrast, Harbin, Orr, Jackson & Wilbur have mere trickling creeks much of year

7. Close to Pacific Crest Trailhead, about 12 mi. away. Harbin, Breitenbush and Wilbur have hiking trails right on own, much larger grounds

8. Accommodates group retreats/workshops, events, same as all

9. Pitch tent most anywhere, last known; (no campfires allowed, same as all). Harbin was also unrestricted beyond busy areas. Breitenbush, Wilbur and Orr have designated sites.

10. Rich history and many incarnations, same as others, all or most going back to pioneering 1800s

11. Walk-ins welcome, same as Jackson, Harbin,

Sierra. Last known, no call-ahead was needed for day use or pot-luck overnighting, unlike Breitenbush, Wilbur and Orr. Tubs, with few exceptions like scheduled massage tie-in, were always first come, first serve

12. Powerful mineral water - Dr. Emoto's staff analyzed water crystal structure; some say photo of it looks like blissed-out circle of little crowned Buddhas

13. Kitchenettes or better in all lodgings except dorm rooms 7-10; like Breitenbush and Orr

14. Wood stoves in cabins, seasonal tepee camping made for adventure. Jackson also has teepees (with electrical option). Choice of 5-6 teepee locations, one right by creek, another ways uphill. No fires allowed

15. Cheaper lodging rates than most - variety of shelters ($70. & up for two) but didn't include bath; just sauna

16. One of few known mineral springs in world having red water coming up next to white - considered a sacred sign by some (see two Vintage Tales)

17. Had option to pay just for sauna - no time limit (last known). With all except Stewart, plus Jackson for paid private tub option, one paid for unlimited communal mineral soak and sauna use. Orr and Sierra also have private tubs at no extra cost. Sierra's big enough for several

18. Bargain Days: Locals Monday ($20 baths; $12 saunas - show ID); reduced-price Tuesday ($18 baths)

19. Entire grounds non-smoking. (Also dog-free/alcohol-free.) No designated smoking area, as others offer, while severe, made most supportive atmosphere for smokers really wanting to quit and spares lungs of others wanting to enjoy Alpine air; could drive incorrigibles nuts having to go outside front gate to puff in peace and not furtively smoke in vehicles or behind tree

Stewart Minuses:

1. NOT a hot spring - only one that isn't geothermal. Mineral-rich water bubbles up cold and propane-heated. Was possible detraction to those who lived for geothermal, but water's so rich, many made an exception. Advantage: could mix tub's hot and cold mineral taps to Goldilocks druthers

2. No communal kitchen/dining area for fixing meals as at Harbin, Orr and Wilbur; or year-round buffet or restaurant like Breitenbush (formerly) and Harbin respectively

3. No communal mineral pool; only one lacking such. (Coldplunge doubled as one of sorts in warm weather.) No steam room, as Orr, Jackson, and Harbin have (or had), in addition to dry saunas. B. last known has no dry one (but its geothermal wet one's a humdinger)

4. Had limited bathhouse/office hours and off-season open days. Others either open later (Orr and Jackson til midnite) and/or have 24/7 bathing access (Harbin and Breitenbush)

5. Tub Soak time limit of 75 minutes. Tho more generous than many timed tubs, possibly non-conducive to total relaxing if not dialed into time-frame and appreciate how water's potency could make longer soaks inadvisable; Jackson has similar time limit on private, pay-extra tubs, with unlimited communal pool soaking (until Covid legacy resulted in time limits on certain days). Orr and Sierra have unlimited private tub soak time (tho others might grow impatient waiting to use Orr's two couples-popular, side-by-side rooftop star-gazing tubs)

6. Tub use separate fee from overnite stay, again unlike all others (free sauna, tho). Reason: some overnighters didn’t want a mineral soak or were there when bathhouse wasn't open and didn’t want to pay for unused tub soak.

7. After 17 years, no longer clothing-optional as of 11-1-2016, sadly becoming only one that isn't. Jackson Wellsprings is restricted till nightfall / 8 pm, when its c/o and adults only. Countless started boycotting Stewart's, seeing restriction as a deal breaker, hoping owners will re-sell once finally seeing the writing on the wall. (see editorial also Story on 2000 change to clothing-optional; also home page editorial Also 1-2017 re-posted TripAdvisor, Yelp and SMS Facebook rants in Rants & Raves)

 

8. Narrow steep alpine gorge means no large flat open spaces and very limited winter sunshine

9. Modest resident population could make place feel abandoned after office/bathhouse closed, most days at six, but then it's this very stillness, with sound of creek soothing counterpoint, that attracted so many, wanting to commune with the stillness of nature

10. Bathhouse silence policy was unrealistic at times. Bath attendant gave orientation raps to newcomers right by open-topped tub stalls rather than in office, as others, self-serve, do, or offer self-guiding map and printed use guide & restrictions. Bathhouse was the only place day visitors wanting to mingle could do so in cold/rainy/snowy weather, the place lacking any sheltered outdoor space beyond the covered walking bridge outside bathing compound. Could hang at the restaurant at rare times it was open, but then had to feed meter by ordering something

11. Limited cell/internet reception, no doubt true of most others (good for genuine retreating). Public phone ripped out of booth long ago after AT&T upped service contract to $1,000./month as subtle disincentive 

12. Limited plumbed bathrooms beyond bathhouse and lodgings -- porta-potties for campers, & for conference hall users when not also renting adjacent plumbed A-frame. Limited drinking water outlets for campers/thirsty bikers unless one trusts creek purity (no one lives/grazes livestock up from it but always wild critters)

13. Restaurant was only open half year, usually mid-May - Oct., then often only for weekend meals and sometimes mostly-private catered group use. Until last Foggy years, place was stuck in upscale mode, catering more to well-heeled omnivores seeking haughty cuisine, unlike plant-based, tasty-food minded, feed-the-masses of Breitenbush. (More about SMS restaurant click here - scroll way down)

14. 48-hour cancellation charge of one night's stay off-season, one week out during peak season; $25. beyond given periods. Others have similar policies

15. Website's Policy page read like a hissy fit. Jammed with daunting "Rules & Regulations", list of penalties, fines, refusals, dismissals and liabilities -- like $25 card tap for not returning key to office. Needless uptight vibe perhaps reflected ghosts of place's unruly past and green management's reactive controlling mindset playing at managing. Most other springs' website policies are far more diplomatically stated (tho heard Wilbur lost something of its famous chill since its devastating hotel fire)

16. Sauna went through mountains of firewood (stove catalytic is/was an air-tight, minimizing air pollution by maximizing burn efficiency); similar amounts propane gobbled heating up cold mineral water for baths

17. Tiny co-ed dressing room for sauna-only & post-bath users, with two curtained privacy nooks at end of narrow space. Bank of open cubbyholes for stashing stuff. One paid price if doing sauna only, or lingering after bath, by suffering ridiculously cramped changing quarters. (Some opted to simply use outer sundeck instead in nice weather, until clothing-optional policy,ended in l1-16, ruling that out.)

18. Condensed oil-and-water energies for having laundry, housekeeping supply, worker break-room, massage meets, and office all sharing bathhouse. Windowed door all separating office from sitting lobby and bathing halls. Yet-to-be-oriented newcomers entering all the time, along with clothed & shod employees and managers threading thru, seriously detracting from getting into an any more zen space away from creek's white-noise serenity. All other resorts, self-serve, have office, laundry, etc. well apart from their dedicated bathing compounds

19. Generally higher soak rate: $35 for 75-minute tub; $32 on locals Monday (ID required); un-timed (?) sauna-only, $18, $15. Mondays if local; limited party size (more than 4 in party paid $3. extra each); Modest senior discounts. Higher overhead with bath attendant, propane-heated water, sauna firewood

20. Again, only one not self-serve. Attendant scurried about setting up baths, providing sheets, stoking sauna fire, tracking soak times, refilling drink station, giving tours. Some were fine with this, liking scene hosted; others, used to self-serve, found it detracting from enjoying any deeper relaxation

21. Saturday sweat lodge ceremony of 45 years ended December 2017 by new 'owners.' Was run by Karuk medicine man Walking Eagle, and revered late medicine man Charlie Thom before him. (Something ostensibly to do with affordable fire insurance and outfit having own medicine man, but obviously having own, private-minded plans for place now. Countless more are boycotting place as result. (see reposted rants home page; scroll down 1/3) Breitenbush has monthly ones and Harbin might again, once fully resurrected

22. New 'ownership' appears hell-bent on trying to re-purpose entire place to serve as international headquarters of their Pneuma Institute, now only allowing group-event overnighters to help pay the freight, and seemingly only half-heartedly at that  

23. Bathhouse was closed 'permanently' as of 5-1-20, after over a century serving the planet's well being. 'Owners' clearly not into serving the public with any spa service. Reportedly they tore out tubs to repurpose building. Fans must now hold the cherished place's energy and visualize manifesting future stewards to reactivate the special realm's healing-service DNA

Harbin Hot Springs

P.O. Box 782 - Middletown, CA 95461 - 1-800 622-2477 - Elev. 1,500 ft.- 6,200 acres www.harbin.org 

"Sacred land and healing waters" "Magic is always afoot at Harbin"

Numerology: 8 Vibration in both address and name - Keywords: Abundance, self-mastery, super-vision, wealth, manifestation, authority, power, success


Harbin re-opened January 19, 2019.

Over three years after a disastrous wildfire in September 2015 destroyed much of the venerable old resort, Herculean re-building efforts enabled re-opening it in record time. Further re-building efforts will be ongoing for years to come. 

Check website for updates.

Late 2022 prices: $33-45. per adult (Mon-Thur. or Fri-Sun) for 6-hr. day pass; $48-63 for over 6-hour and tenting per adult; (plus $30 annual or $10 temporary 30-day membership for at least one in group) Reservations required even for a day pass last known, so best check beforehand.

Footnote: In amazing numerological synchronicity, re-opening date of January 19 was none other than the date Stewart Springs legally changed hands -- exactly three years earlier -- to current, mindbogglingly inappropriate 'owners.' May Harbin's grand energies re-activation date -- incidentally, birthdays of wild childs Janis Joplin, Dolly Parton and Edgar Allen Poe --  work to affect another critical change in stewardship of Stewart's, letting it at long last to join the sisterhood of West Coast's more mellow, progressive-minded rural mineral spring retreats.

Another note: Writer finally visited in October 2022 for first time in 13 years, so updated info.  Some  pre-fire info is still up to offer a clue to any unfamiliar with the place what it's been about & perhaps further energize fully bringing back  what's long been one of West Coast's most beloved travel destinations among rural spa lovers with even a whisper of bohemian bent. (Scope restored pools in picture below.) 

Harbin Pluses:

1.  Widely considered the West Coast's premiere rural bohemian clothing-optional mineral spring resort.

2. After years of dedicated rebuilding and re-landscaping, bathing area now, amazingly, feels basically the same as before the fire (minus large wood deck, former approach and, for a while longer, no steam room or indoor changing area). Wonderful restoration.

3. Unrestricted body freedom in bathing compound. As of October, 2022, foundations for new co-ed dressing room, steam room & bathrooms are being poured. (Guessing they might take a half year to full year to complete)

4. Long-term focus is on healing & learning - set up as nonprofit Heart Consciousness Church. (Sister spring Sierra also nonprofit; Breitenbush possibly, too)

5. Free yoga classes & evening DVD-release movies (but no longer the pillow-laden stadium seating theater, lost in fire.)

< Harbin rebuilding coming along

in leaps and bounds. Roof arbors and shade cloth over meditation pool were added back since photo. Also, there's now a new covered pool beyond main one.

6. (pre-fire) Large resident work force, like Breitenbush, gives place a village happening feeling

7. Huge grounds, like Wilbur and Breitenbush, with far-ranging hiking trails - almost 10 square miles (unknown how extensively hurt by fire)

8. Eight communal mineral pools (plus Dome's), including super-hot, 113 degrees F. pool (like Wilbur, maybe others) and large ambient temp. mineral lap pool (like Jackson), small refrigerated cold plunge near sauna, and new covered one where snack bar used to be. (No private tubs) Pools open 24/7 except when periodically cleaning

9.  New dry sauna is huge, fat L shaped affair, maybe 20 by 10 feet. Heated by double gas sauna stoves. Can hold around 10 lying down, 30 sitting. Twin-height benches on far end. Nice carpentry. Closes at midnight. (Maybe a tad too bright, possibly an over correction to old one that was maybe too dark -- long live the memory of its endearingly squeaky door)

10.  Caravan mini trailer lodging in former RV parking lot. For $175 - 197. a nite, get own shower, toilet, sink(s), cook range, microwave, mini-fridge, comfy bed; includes AC and (noisy) electric heater. Tight quarters, but clean and neat. (Tea pot and mugs supplied only; bring own cookware if wanting to actually cook.) (Domes from $90 - 325; Grove Cottages, $202 - 250)

11. (pre-fire) Grows some of restaurant's food right on grounds in tranquil garden, open for visitors to enjoy. Garden is thriving again post fire

12. (pre-fire and Covid) Has abiding old hippie earth-religion renaissance consciousness (as does each in varying measure, Harbin, Breitenbush, Jackson and Wilbur being perhaps strongest - Orr & Stewart used to have more in bygone times)

13. Alcohol and tobacco banned. (Vaping too, but who's to know?)

14. (pre-fire)  Amazingly laid-back deer accepted humans sharing their turf

15. While fire claimed most every structure on the grounds, many trees weathered the firestorm unscathed, and lots of newly planted trees are coming along nicely after seven years' fast growth 

16. Lots of foot-friendly soft rubber mats to cushion feet while barefooting over concrete walkways and navigating steps in pool area  

Harbin Minuses:

1. Super-popular destination resort in warm weather; can get swamped weekends (although traditionally has kept a contagious upbeat happening vibe) - minus if one's seeking solitude. (Off season, midweek, certain hours like middle of the night are more serene)

2. No pets allowed except service animals; restrictions on children and toddler pool use, similar to most

3. Depending on visitor mix of given day, bold lascivious vibe sometimes permeate bathing compound (often from voluptuary, over-amped-lower-chakras Bay Area element); more on weekends. 

Harbin Springs website

Orr Hot Springs

13201 Orr Springs Road - Ukiah, CA 95482 - 707 462-6277

Elev. 800 ft. - 27 acres - website: orrhotsprings.org

"Small, tranquil resort nestled in the rolling hills of the Mendocino Coastal Range"

Numerology: 7 Vibration by both address & name - Keywords: Solitude, wisdom, spiritual focus, mystical, metaphysical, research, investigative, technology

Orr Pluses:

1. Renovated bathing facilities: Private tub rooms, two rooftop clawfoot tubs for stargazing/sun soaking, two communal outdoor pools, one large; side-by-side dry sauna and steam sauna (last, same as Harbin and Jackson) - visualize Stewart getting one)

2. Guest kitchen/dining room facilities, include good upright piano

3. Close to ancient coastal redwood groves, including second-tallest tree on earth in nearby Montgomery Woods (used to be thought first)

4. Quiet, zenned out grounds - no vehicles other than service rigs allowed, same as Breitenbush, similar to Wilbur (still?) - makes for serene environ. Overnighters garden-cart luggage in and out, same as Breitenbush (which also has tow sleds for times of snow)

5. One designated smoking zone on grounds, same as many others; helps smokers quit and spares lungs of non-smokers, while reducing grody ground litter

6.Variety of nice rustic cabins with fully equipped kitchens; also basic apartments and campsites

7. Unrestricted body freedom in bathing compound (like all except Stewart and Jackson); co-ed changing room; some opt for swimsuits, same as rest -- non-issue

8. After checking out of lodging, welcome to stay and continue using facilities til 10 p.m.

9. Avoids crowds by setting limit of day-use admissions, all done by hopefuls emailing/calling ahead of time (no walk-ins, same as Wilbur and Breitenbush)

10. Website refreshingly very upfront, transparent and forthcoming in providing info

11. Friendly cat named Elvis presides, last known 

Orr Minuses:

1. Slow, tortuously windy, often-eroded mountain road approach - 13-1/2 mile drive west from Ukiah feels like 50. On hairpin turns,"Slow to 5 mph" means it. Bring food or fast, as no restaurant and long haul to town (a few vending machines; others might share supplies). 31 mi. of similar windy hilly road west onto Mendocino coast

2. Shared detached bathroom for some lodgings

3. Occasional lascivious vibe around edges, like Harbin had at times, tho more isolated

4. No longer offers affordable dorm lodgings - can camp for $40, but lodgings start at $80. (includes unlimited bathhouse) $30 day use

5. Limited camping sites - about 10 designated spots (nicely secluded in woods by trickling creek)

6. Unconfirmed, isolated reports of Lyme disease resulting from camp stays in years past

7. Sloping parking lot situated across road from grounds, while keeping road energy away, uncomfortable to hang in

8. Steep 72-hour cancellation charge. Full amount required when reserving, lost if cancel final 3 days; ($25. longer out); other places similar

9. Tiny resident population, like Stewart and Sierra, makes for less of village feeling (good thing if seeking solitude)

10. Suspect that fresh water, not mineral, is used in steam room, unlike Jackson and Breitenbush (Breathing mineral water as steam was one of traditional three combined mineral water therapies along with soaking and drinking)

11. Had more down-home, dedicated tribal vibe when collectively owned and operated ages ago, though recent reports of friendly supportive atmosphere

12. Meat now allowed in communal kitchen; possible downer for sensitive veggies/vegans

13. No walk-ins. Must reserve ahead of time, even for day use (which has daily quota limit to keep place from getting crowded)

4. Nice level tent platforms along creek bed are also, alas, are along main road - killer chi concern for any sound, air pollution and/or fast-motion sensitives. (Also camp meadow, and one pitches tent most anywhere away from developed public areas last known; policy might've changed)

5. Long hike from camping/vehicle areas to bathing compound (along nice hillside trail; good thing if you’ve the time to slow down and tune into traditionally (if now bit strained) laid-back, enjoy-the-eternal-now Harbin Time). If 24-hour guest, one can get a permit to park by old gazebo, some 50 yards down from compound, then it's just a short (if steep) hike to top 

6. Cell phones verboten beyond cars and lower parking lot and photographing not allowed (protects any visiting celebrity's privacy as well as that of great washing masses) Computer use similarly frowned on, maybe trying to keep retreat from high-tech preoccupation that can easily overtake one's attention.

7. New, trey-incongruous, massive elevator up to pool compound is too weird for words; complete with computer voice announcing your floor, tho only two levels. (probably government-required for disability act) Fortunately, one can still walk up. (must've set the place back a quarter million or so)

8. Unavoidable ongoing construction projects might disrupt the calm some during the day, but crew feels 'harbinized' and nights are still serene, especially earliest a.m. hours.

9. Caravan mobiles could use idiot instructions posted for using AC, frig and heater settings to minimize noise pollution if sound sensitive, and how to extend motorized shade awning. A chair or two outside the door would be welcome addition. Changing policy from walking in all your belongings to parking to one of unloading, then moving to parking area (like Wilbur had, last known) would make more sense. As is, makes for too much lugging or feeling needlessly rebellious or guilty if opting to ignore the rule and drive in

10. Food offerings from portable kitchen definitely not cheap

11. New sauna could use an air lock to keep cold air from rushing in every time someone comes in or goes out (old one, in retrofitted trailer, had that nicely together)

12. After getting used to being clothes-free all day in nicest weather, a drag having to put them back on to re-enter oppressively overdressed world


Breitenbush Hot Springs

Retreat & Conference Center - worker-owned co-operative and intentional community - “A place to bring life into balance” - "Our mission is to provide a safe and potent environment where people can renew and evolve in ways they never imagined"

P.O. Box 578 - Detroit, Oregon 97342 - 503 854-3320 -www.breitenbush.com- Elev. 2,279 ft. - 154 acres surrounded by national forest

See an in-depth article on recovery from the 2020 fire that devastated the grounds.

Numerology: 2 Vibration by address. Keywords: Co-operation, unity, peace-loving, helpful, feminine principle - moon energy

7 Vibration by name. Keywords: Solitude, spiritual focus, wisdom, mystical, metaphysical, analysis, science, technology

Breitenbush Pluses:

1. Three bountiful, tasty all-you-can-eat organic veggie/vegan buffet meals a day included with stay, whether camping or cabin-ing, set out like clockwork; far-carrying sound of striking gong when chow's on (update: hear it's no longer buffet)

2. Off-grid, like Wilbur. Electricity generated by mini hydroelectric plant tapping Breitenbush River; buildings heated geothermally

3. Unique steam sauna heated directly by geyser vent (!) underneath charming little stone structure

4. Large resident worker community, like Harbin, makes for full anchored village feeling -- more so for being genuine intentional community worker-owned & managed by some 40 members and their families

5. Seven different hot springs and four smaller tubs of varying temps, all clothing-optional but relaxed non-issue either way

6. Winter wonderland - soak in outdoor pool and take few steps and make snow angel to cool off (Occasional snowfalls at similar high-elevation Stewart and Sierra)

7. Guest access to piano in Lodge lobby -- tho one might feel under spotlight

8. Free events like folk dance workshops ongoing

9. Resident crew dedicated to clearing snow promptly, even help newbies put on snow chains to get out

10. Historic spacious 80-year-old lodge

11. Sanctuary building always open for meditation & yoga

12. Twelve Inipi tribe sweat ceremonies a year open to guests

13. No light pollution; awesome for gazing night heavens

Breitenbush Minuses:

1. Serious snowfalls. While beautiful, can make for gnarly driving and walking about - tire chains and snow boots and other snow stuff essential in winter

2. No walk ins. Call ahead even for day visits, same as Orr and Wilbur (makes for more focused & settled group energy)

3. Wet sauna, while unique and charming, only holds few and has dark interior with just ambient moon/starlight thru small windows (last known)

4. Long hike to parking lot, like Wilbur and Harbin. Again, can be a good thing -- unless you forget something important in car and snowstorm's raging

5. Long drive (60 mi.) up-mountain from Interstate 5 corridor at Salem; from Detroit, nearest tiny town; several windy hilly miles of dirt road in and out on final stretch

6. One reviewer said it's "like summer camp for adults"; whole place set up self-serve -- help yurself and welcome -- so if like being fussed over and patronized, maybe not for you

7. Zero cell and internet receptivity (last known) - good for genuine retreat from over-busy world

8. Reportedly ceased cornucopia of select daily buffet veggie food offerings once spoiled certain foodies for any other resort, though a later report is they brought it back. (Note: bring own coffee and spices if wanted)

_____________

 

Jackson WellSprings  est. 1862

2253 Highway 99 N. - Ashland, OR 97520 - 541 482-3376

30 Acres - Elev. 1800 ft.“Profoundly Healing Waters”

"Dedicated to promoting optimal human and environmental health"

www.jacksonwellsprings.com

 

 

Celebrated grand 100th Anniversary in 2023 (under founder Jackson)

 

Check site for current prices; some shown probably outdated, though general admission probably current. 

 

Numerology: 3 Vibration by address. Keywords: Saying one's truth, imagination, optimism, playfulness, creative expression.

11/2 Vibration by name. 2 Keywords: Harmony, unity, cooperation, feminine principle. 11 Keywords: illumination, uplifting, global consciousness raising

Jackson Pluses:

1. Even closer off Interstate 5 than Stewart's - only 2 minutes (!)

2. Olympic ambient-temp outdoor mineral pool with smaller heated mineral pool beside (fresh water Monday & Thursday); dry (gas-heated) sauna, plus custom-tiled mineral-water steam room. Also two private indoor soaking tubrooms, rented separately

3. Clothing optional (adults only) between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. closing (now limited to one of two 90 minute time slots); all others, except Stewarts before scrapping spa, are unrestricted within bathing compound

4. Community center building for events and workshops; periodic outdoor faire events

5. Cheapest general admission - $15 day use (excluding private tubs), $10. senior. $8 children; under 4 free

6. Only a few miles to two thriving natural food stores: Ashland Co-op (downtown, 1st and A St.) and Shop n Kart, phenomenal hybrid supermarket next to Bi-Mart, open late, off central I-5 freeway exit.

7. Private Jacuzzis, single and double, by 75-minute rental

8. Open til 10:30 p.m. 7 days a week (except Monday before 5 p.m.

9. Women's Night every Monday 5 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. after weekly pool water change earlier in day, when bathhouse closed

10. Independent worker/general public mobile home community on grounds makes for homey settled energy, similar to Breitenbush

11. Closest to Stewarts - scenic one-hour drive along Interstate 5

12. Teepees to rent, like Stewart, for $30.($33 w/ electricity); sleeping in vehicle/RV for $20 includes bathhouse use (Update: not sure of these anymore; forgot to ask)

13. Monthly and yearly passes available

14. Talking/chanting allowed in sauna, same as Orr and Harbin, and soft positive talking/silence usual in hot pool (similar to Harbin's whisper pool

15. Office enlarged nicely in recent years, including big skylights illuminating indoor space

16. Laid-back little restaurant off from office with daily offerings (open sporadically)

17. Can book place privately for small groups Tues. and Wed., for 90 minute session, between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

18. Walk-ins welcome again during all public hours until capacity is reached (book ahead online if not wanting to take a chance on this happening. Reservations taken on certain days have priority.

19. Thankfully, did away with door code to remember -- boon for lysdexics everywhere

20. Public camping available --$15 each, $10 for seniors, $5 children (More private sites also available)

21. Custom-tiled steam room, though not very big, is awesome

Jackson Minuses:

1. Like Stewart's until 2017, potentially off-putting hybrid nude policy: clothing-optional sauna, steam room & pools only after nightfall or 8 p.m., whichever comes first and adults only. Second nature to regulars, well resigned to set-up. (More all-inclusive as result, allowing more to enjoy place beyond the varied (and sometimes off-putting) nudaholics)

2. Can hear Highway 99 traffic 100-125 yards off in places, including camp area. (But thankfully not in bath compound.) Not as deep in nature as others

3. Nearby creek flooded land in 1999 and still has rows of funky ruined guest sheds as eerie reminders (way-back-burner plans to renovate some).

4. Members-only operation. Joining’s cheap - $5./yr. (last known) - but can make for long check-in period, like Harbin & Sierraville with same set-up. Can’t be in a hurry (shouldn't be, anyhow) (3-23 update: not sure of this policy and cost anymore; forgot to ask)

5. Bring your own drinking water unless curious how mineral water tastes (writer likes it). Drinking mineral water at springs was once regarded as an integrated part of mineral water therapy

6. Swimming pool lightly powder-chlorinated each night after closing, processed out through water filter system by next morning. (Drained and refilled once a week on Monday, when closed til Women's nite)

7. Some not in any closer touch with inner bohemian might be put off by sometimes quietly reigning countercultural energy

8. 90-minute limit on evenings-only, c/o visits

9. Dry sauna is often under heated for some reason. Lighting, formerly too bright for writer, is now maybe a bit too dim (ok, call me Goldilocks)

10. While ambient swimming pool works great as a giant cold plunge between saunas/steambaths in colder weather, could use a dedicated one that's kept chilled for hotter weather (like Harbin does)

11. Haven't (car) camped there in years, but noticed many posters chronically complain of unclean restroom and sometimes sketchy camping experiences on Tripadvisor

Jackson Wellsprings website

Wilbur Hot Springs - est. 1865

"Quietude is revered." - "In all the world no water like these."

3375 Wilbur Springs Rd. - Williams, CA - 95987-9709 (Off state highway 20) - (530) 473-2306 - elev. 1,300 ft. - 1,800 acres wilburhotsprings.com 

Wilbur News:

Kitchen fire spread through venerable old hotel March 29, 2014, destroying top two floors. Longtime owner, celebrating 75th birthday that very day, said later with rare good humor, "That was one birthday candle too big to blow out." He assured spirit of Wilbur lives on; place quickly got more or less back on track.

Wilbur Pluses:

1. Rambling historic hotel building w/ deep wraparound sheltered porches once had 20 guest rooms (now two since fire), along with kitchen & dining, office, library. Similar to Sierra's lodge, though larger 

Numerology: 9 Vibration by address. Keywords: Endings, vision, tolerance, transformation, spiritual consciousness, cosmic, global awareness, perfection.

5 Vibration by name. Keywords: Change, sensuality, progressive, freedom, resourceful, versatility

2. Rich mineral water (while no connoisseur per se, theirs was first water writer couldn't get enough of - possibly supplied a personal mineral lack)

3.Historically a very laid-back atmosphere, perhaps in part because until 2012 same mellow managing couple lived on grounds 23 years. Limited vehicular movement & longtime tradition of meditative silence, plus relaxing waters, make for pronounced non-verbal group head space, super-conducive to going within. (Update: since Harbin fire not so chill -- see Minus # 9)

4. Off grid like Breitenbush - power generated by some 36 large solar electric panels

5. Guest-chiefs some weekends for soakers with gourmet leanings

6. Clothing optional in nicely zenned bathing compound close by lodgings

7. Fully equipped communal kitchen with impressive bank of solar-powered Sunfrost refrigerators plus copious freezer for guests' food storage

8. Former noteworthy cancellation policy only charged no-shows if had to turn someone away to hold

9. As of 2-2023, $59 for unlimited day-use rate ($65 weekends and holidays) good between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. (must reserve ahead)

10. Among hottest water temps - 112 degrees F. (also milder flumes) Popular with Japanese who seems can't get into hot enough water

11. Part of spring resort triangle with Orr and Harbin, three situated close enough to leisurely sample each over 2-3 days (within 40-50 miles of each other)

12. Cozy library includes collection of guest journals that can connect one to past visitors and help capture flavor of place

Wilbur Minuses

1. Only 5 campsites. Platformed and secluded; price includes full use of bathing facilities and kitchen; no camp stoves permitted; use communal kitchen

2. No walk-ins (Helps keep energies tranquil, but must contact ahead)

3. Far piece -- 22 miles -- to nearest town, Williams, on I-5

4. Long walk, 1/3 mile, to parking lot if you forget something.

5. Pricier than most

6. No steam room last known, unlike Orr, Harbin, Breitenbush (tho nice-sized wooden dry sauna, if somewhat airless last known

7. In certain area of grounds, solar plant's droning motor fan can disturb place's otherwise sylvan silence

8. Getting lay of land inside old, narrow hallway-ed, labyrinthine hotel's a trip. Example: bathroom doors cryptically labeled "Commodium." Playful nod to place's favor with historic California literary luminaries. Once you get hang of it it's fun, but bewildering at first

9. Since Harbin fire (after which raised prices) and invasion by displaced, chattier Harbonites --  plus place's own earlier fire and hasty addition of basic cabins to replace hotel's lost vintage lodgings -- place reportedly lost some of former famous laid-back charm

Sierra Hot Springs

521 Campbell Hot Springs Road - P.O. Box 366 - Sierraville, CA 96126 - 530 994-3773 www.sierrahotsprings.org

Elev. 5,000 ft. (highest) - 600 acres

“Our goal is to provide stewardship of this sacred land”

Numerology: 6 Vibration by P.O. box number. Keywords: Balance, nurturing, responsibility and duty, family focus, domestic and work issues, service oriented.

8 Vibration by name and street address (same as sister spring Harbin! - synchronicity or design?) Keywords: Self-mastery, abundance, manifestation, material wealth, authority, power, success

Sierra Pluses:

1. Beautiful high Sierra land

2. Bathing facilities open 24/7

3. As sister spring to Harbin, shares similar spirit and inspired architecture (also same modest required membership fee, good at both)

4. Hot pool, cold plunges enclosed in zenned geodesic dome along with outdoor pool and large sundeck

5. Faux-natural sand-bottomed outdoor communal pool (closed winter)

6. Large baths (seasonal) and dry sauna

7. Bathing areas clothing-optional

8. Lodgings, lobby and office in historic hotel, same as Wilbur

9. Smoking restricted, no alcohol, fires, pets (again, plus or minus depending on person)

10. Vegetarian meals served nights during peak season. (‘Heat-and-eat’ meal items available off season at main lodge office)

11. Yoga on weekends; water yoga Sundays

12. Movies Saturday nights

Sierra Minuses:

1. Snow chains sometimes needed in winter - 5,000 ft. elevation

2. Remote location unless already in Tahoe-Reno area. While part of its charm, long haul reaching (but what's a road trip for?)

3. No steam room last known (same as Stewart, Wilbur)

4. Feline presence (same as Orr, and Stewart until recently) if one's sensitive to dander, otherwise, gracious homey energy 



For info on some popular Washington State spring resorts plus more on Breitenbush visit here

For impressive site exploring many of world's mineral springs, including Stewart's (as it once was), visit Timwu.org/hotsprings

Sierra Hot Springs site

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