FOLLOW WILLY COSMO AS HE EXPLORES THE HEALING WATERS OF THE WORLD
Well, after 7 days, roughly 50 hours and a 50 minutes and 2,906 miles of driving (and 10 hot springs later), Willy Cosmo and fam are back home in Portland to report on our Great American Road Trip through Idaho, Colorado and Wyoming!
From Portland to Miracle Hot Springs, to Banbury Hot Springs, to Strawberry Hot Springs, to Hot Sulphur Springs, to Denver, Colorado, to Fountain of Youth Hot Springs, to Hot Springs State Park Bath House, to Granite Hot Springs, to Challis Hot Springs*, to Sunbeam Hot Springs, to Haven Hot Springs, and back to Portland again. What a doozy of a trip!
Willy Cosmo's August Adventures! w/ music by: Jacob Miller and The Bridge City Crooners
JOE: Yup, we did it. We loaded up our car with a tent, clothes, pillows, a cooler, a stroller, some food, and a whole lot of gumption and made our way to Denver, Colorado for an absolutely lovely wedding. We of course made the most of this trip and squeezed in a visit to 10 different hot springs between the way there and back again. We'll be reporting individually on each of these places but before we break it down we thought we'd better just give you a glimpse of this mighty ambitious trip we just did. So, below you're going to get to see the list o' hot springs Willy Cosmo checked out in just one week of this young lads life!
RACH: This was, by far, the biggest road trip WC has ever been on. he was a little champ. We wanted to hit at least 4 hot springs on the ways there and back, but, thanks largely to his dreamy temperament and thirst for the next soak, we were able to go to 10!! So, we now have a better idea about the hot springs culture in Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming. A decidedly different flavor than California and Oregon. Some really spectacular water to be sure, but don't forget your swimming costumes! Full reports to follow shortly, but here is an overview of the ground we covered, and the waters we replenished ourselves in:
Miracle Hot Springs ~ Buhl, Idaho:
Miracle Hot Springs is on the outskirts of Buhl, Idaho - spoiler alert: they have an alligator!! Also, some really well designed pools and great camping domes. We loved this place.
Banbury Hot Springs ~ Buhl Idaho:
Banbury Hot Springs is just about one and a half miles from Miracle Hot Springs and last year, Miracle bought Banbury. So, these two lovely soaking destinations are in cahoots! Banbury is the place for family fun.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs ~ Steamboat Springs, Colorado:
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is just outside Steamboat Springs, Colorado, way up in the forest, a very unique destination.
Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa ~ Hot Sulphur Springs, CO
Hot Sulphur Springs is located in the town by the same name. They have 24 pools, varying in temperatures, different mineral contents, and some really stunning views.
Hot Springs break, pool side at the Westin ~ Denver, Colorado
Willy Cosmo was quite impressed with the wedding accommodations in Denver! While it's not a hot spring, nothing beats a fancy rooftop swimming pool on a hot city day!
Fountain of Youth Hot Springs RV Park ~ Thermopolis, WY
The Fountain of Youth Hot Springs RV Park is located in what we've come to call the Mecca of Hot Springs, Thermopolis, Wyoming! Located in Hot Springs County and just a yodel away from the largest hot mineral springs in the world, this is a destination that all hot springs lovers around the world need to pilgrimage to...
Hot Springs State Park Bath House ~ Thermopolis, Wyoming
Hot Springs State Park Bath House is wonderful. Go get yourself a free soak at this well built and well run soaking spot located in Hot Springs State Park. Also located in Thermopolis (what a great name for a place btw), Wyoming
Granite Hot Springs ~ Jackson, Wyoming
Granite Hot Springs Pool is pretty darn amazing. I mean, look at that view! Located in the Bridger-Teton National forest, this is one spot you'll be happy you stopped at after taking in the amazing natural surroundings of this incredible area.
*Challis Hot Springs ~ Challis, Idaho
What can we say about Challis Hot Springs? Not much good as of yet because THEY DIDN'T LET WILLY COSMO SOAK THERE! A story for another time (and believe us, that story will get told).
Sunbeam Hot Springs ~ Sunbeam, Idaho
Sunbeam Hot Springs is a soaking spot right off of HWY 75 on the Salmon River and you know what? It is fantastic.
Haven Hot Springs Resort ~ Lowman, Idaho
Haven Hot Springs is quite a spot. Located in the Sawtooth Mountains in Lowman, Idaho... Straight up, this is is one of the great pools in the history of pools.
So, stay tuned for many, many more photos, and in-depth reviews of each of these places. In the meantime, we are thrilled to be soaking up the comforts of home after a very big week!
Carson Hot Springs: A place with so much potential and yet...
JOE: Carson Hot Springs is nestled in this beautiful little piece of nature just off the Columbia Gorge in the quaint little town of Carson, Washington. This hot springs has been in operation since 1897 as a business and the waters were appreciated for hundreds of years previous to this by the local Native American population. In the past decade several additions have been made to the grounds including the pool above and the three story hotel below.
JOE: Until the addition of the pool in 2016, the only way in which you came to enjoy these glorious waters was by going for a soak and wrap, if you are anywhere near the area. It's really quite an experience to give this a try, there is a 25 minutes soak session and then a 25 minute wrap session where an attendant comes and gets you all snug in some sheets and a blanket and then you proceed to sweat out the demons, it is such an incredibly potent experience. It almost knocks you out, I think the combination of the soaking with all its glorious minerals and then immediately getting wrapped up really sweats out the toxins and in general drains the energy out of you. In a good way though. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Hydration, hydration, hydration! After you are done and recovered from that initial drained/knocked out feeling, you feel absolutely wonderful.
RACH: The soak and wrap in the old bathhouse is a no-frills, real deal wellness treatment. It's only about a 45 minute drive from Portland, and I would go as far as to say that it would be a worthy thing to make into a regular weekly or bi-weekly practice. For $25 you get the benefits of some very strong and detoxifying waters, and the sweat you get from the wrap is no joke. And it's nice to soak in the privacy of your own curtain-shrouded clawfoot tub.
JOE: We had never stayed the night at Carson before so for the sake of giving the best review we could, we booked one of the rooms there. They're a bit pricey for what you are getting but we really wanted to have Willy Cosmo get into these waters and this is the only way at Carson for that to be a possibility. For anyone under the age of 18, the only way to get your soak on is to come and stay at one of the rooms with a jacuzzi tub in it. Willy really loved the waters too, that is completely understandable because let's be honest, these waters are no joke legit.
JOE: The history of this place and its waters in interesting and I like seeing pictures of what it was like way back when. That is cool. It does kinda have a ghost town/haunted feeling to it, too but I am alright with that. I even think that is something I'd put in the plus category (but I acknowledge that may sound weird). Carson Hot Springs has great water. That's the truth. If for nothing else I'd say come check it out for yourself if you live in the Portland area or are visiting Mt Hood and the Hood River area. Some of the old pictures make the place look like it would have been really awesome to have visited back then...
There's another spot in Carson we recommend you check out. It's this delicious restaurant and brewery just down the road and we definitely suggest you go there. Backwoods Brewery is great. They serve up some tasty beers and we were pleased to have happened upon some live music out back when we got there as well. They have a super friendly staff and a pretty darn good menu, too. House made salads and hand made from scratch pizzas make this a great place to go and eat if you ever find yourself in or near Carson, Washington. We really liked Backwoods Brewery.
When all is said and done, Carson Hot Springs is home to some mighty fine water. There is room for improvement with this place to be sure but it is without question that it has some excellent Hot Springs Mineral water to soak your bones in.
Carson Hot Springs
372 St. Martin's Springs Road,
Carson, Washington, 98610
RACH: Doe Bay's tubs and sauna are some of the best in the Pacific Northwest. That being said, they are not natural mineral springs. But the natural setting, the sauna, and the retreat vibe deserves a nod from WC. The first time I went to Doe Bay it was for Doe Bay Fest 4 in 2011 and I fell in love with the place. It should be noted that this one weekend a year when they have the music festival is quite different than the rest of the year. I have also visited in the winter, and even played at the Cafe - they have live music every Friday night, and an open mic every Thursday. If you have not visited the San Juan Islands, it should be on your list. Like Vancouver Island and the Canadian Gulf Islands to the north, there is an indescribable magic that you feel, stepping out of the world as we know it. Fairies live here. And whales, of course, and bald eagles. The resort is situated on an idyllic cove, and has a range of accommodations from gorgeous rugged campsites, yurts and domes on sea cliffs, to forested rustic cabins and houses. Don't expect luxury sheets or fancy bathrooms, though. This is a truly rustic retreat, done simply, with a gorgeous bathhouse spa. Think glamping with a fancy spa. That's what we are always thinking, by the way, in our family.
JOE: Doe Bay, Doe Bay?... Ah, what can I say? I love this place. And I know, I know, Doe Bay Resort & Retreat is technically not a "hot springs" but it is totally worthy of being added to the guide. Willy Cosmo absolutely loves this place as well and highly recommends you come and soak your bones here. And not for nothing, the sauna is a top drawer sauna as it goes. So, to put it simply, Doe Bay is awesome. This visit was my second extended stay on both Orcas Island, and at Doe Bay itself. Both times have been during Doe Bay Fest and both times have been wonderful. I look forward to going back for a visit when no event or conference is going on to experience the place and space without the festival energy attached to it. We did arrive on Wednesday - which is a day before any of the music and all that business begins - and there were very few people there (compared to Thurs-Sun) so I did get a taste of what it is like when you can really soak up the peace and quite of this magical land (and water of course).
JOE: This place really is a treat of a retreat if I do say so myself. The views, the fresh air, the trees, the abundant amount of deer roaming the grounds, the excellent cafe and restaurant, the spa services, and of course, the soaking tubs and sauna with it's exceptional view make this place somewhere we really can't speak highly enough about. The list goes on of course because as I briefly mentioned above, this place is also located on Orcas Island by the way! This island, one of the many beautiful islands in the San Juan chain, is worth a visit in its own right. It's such a beautiful place and it is only really accessible by taking the ferry (or you can fly in on a little prop plane too if you happened to be one of those people who roll like that). We took the ferry and it was Willy C's first ferry boat ride and he really liked it. We played a game of cribbage and happened to be sitting next to a couple of folks who were playing at Doe Bay Fest, we learned that after they started talking to us because Willy Cosmo was charming the pants off of them. One of the bands was Lenore (and you should totally check out this lovely duo because they're really talented and their voices and melodies are quite something to behold). The other band - which will likely rock your socks off if you ever get a chance to experience one of their shows - is Jacob Miller and the Bridge City Crooners.These guys are amazing. It was fun connecting with them and we ended up hanging out off and on throughout the weekend with all these good peoples. And the ferry ride itself was rather nice. The other gentlemen we met and shared seats on the ferry ride with we had met while waiting in line for the ferry. He happened to be from Seattle and had a place about a mile down the road from Doe Bay, we ended up enjoying his company throughout the weekend as well. I chalk that up to baby magic, while we may have crossed paths otherwise, it was Willy Cosmo that drew this kindhearted man to us and invited us to visit with him and his wife and go check out their lovely property. So, yeah, the ferry ride was great actually. It's an hour and a half ride and it really is quite a lovely boat ride as it goes.
JOE: Did I mention already that we love Doe Bay? I did? Well, we do. We love Doe Bay, A LOT. One of the big things about this place that we like so much is that, besides being one of the only nice resort/spa areas in all of the greater Seattle area, it quite simply is one of the most peaceful and serene settings imaginable. It's exceptionally beautiful and the fact that the good folks who own and operate it have brought all these wonderful conferences, retreats, and modest sized, intimate music festival to the land is really something we love and is indeed an element (or elements) of what we plan to offer when we have our own hot springs resort. It just feels good being there and it is clear that the owner Joe and all those who help to operate this place really love what they are doing and that is awesome.
RACH: Their organic farm supplies the incredible cafe, which serves not only the guests but the whole island, and has a thriving scene year round. The spa is a perfectly designed sanctuary. Perched so that you can gaze out over the bay, the dry sauna is my second favorite ever (second to Stewart Springs). There are three tiers to sit on, and the top seats have little windows to take in the view. In quiet winter, you can stay all day soaking and shvitzing (little Willy Cosmo has yet to know the wonders of the shvitz), and in summer you can run down the trail to the beach on Otter Cove below and cold plunge in the sound! Or for the very brave, there is a cliff to dive off at the end of the point. Deer roam the grounds freely and happily, as do children. Festival time or no, this is a place to come get inspired creatively, to retreat and receive in peace...
JOE: We camped out at Doe Bay for 5 nights which is pretty ambitious of us considering it was our first camping trip since Willy Cosmo was born. He was a trooper though and I actually think he quite enjoyed it actually. He loves him some nature and I don't blame him! We had a really nice tucked away setting for our campsite and I decided to deck it out with a little bit of my stretched fabric art just for fun. Here's a glimpse of our campsite and a view of sunrise through the trees that first morning just a little way down the path from our tent.
JOE: It is worth spending a few sentences here to mention that Doe Bay Fest is a fantastic music festival. Super family friendly and no matter what music is going on, the setting in which you are listening to and participating in the experiencing of being a part of the musical festivities is always fantastic. I think Blind Pilot was probably the best show (I know for certain it was for Rach) but I really liked quite a few of the bands that were there this year, Sisters was one that particularly had me moving and grooving with young Willy Cosmo. The two main stages each have their charms but it is undeniable that the Otter Cove stage is one of the best places to take in live music in all of the world! That might be an exaggeration as there are likely countless other places that are equal or better but here, take a look for yourself and you'll understand what I mean...
JOE: See what I mean? Pretty special place to watch a show, eh? Willy Cosmo was digging the music and I am glad we got him a pair of those baby ear muffs for the loud music (and they came with a pair of sunglasses so he was pretty much ready to rock and roll like nobodies business). And I must admit, Jacob Miller and the Bride City Crooners are quickly becoming one of my favorite Portland bands.
JOE: During our stay on Orcas Island we also went for a day trip up to Mt. Constitution and let me tell you, that is something you just have to do! It's amazing. The views from up there are astounding. You can see so many other islands and into Canada and it is simply one of those places you want to see for yourself. Also while we were up there we decided it was Willy Cosmo's time to learn to fly. So, in front of a lovely crowd of folks that were up there as tourists (or the group of people who we witnessed getting married up there!) I gave our young lad his first proper flight. Check it out!
JOE: That was fun. Willy C loved it. Also incidentally on this particular trip, Willy Cosmo learned another new trick for his bag. As a young lad of 5 months old, not able to crawl or even sit up of his own accord just yet, Willy Cosmo realized he could do this, too...
JOE: Okay, alright, okay, okay. Well, we love Doe Bay Resort & Retreat and we love Doe Bay Fest, too! Orcas Island is mighty charming and wonderful as well. We will be back and we strongly encourage you to check it out as well!
JOE: Oh yeah! One more thing, Rachel's latest EP c'est la swimming happens to have it's album cover art from a picture I took at Doe Bay! It was from the first time I was there (Doe Bay Fest 7). Thought that was pretty neat and worth mentioning before we close out this review. Okay, that's it. That's all we've got for now. Willy Cosmo and the whole fam are big fans of Doe Bay Resort & Retreat and we highly recommend you go and visit this wonderful place yourself.
Doe Bay Resort & Retreat
107 Doe Bay Rd
Olga, WA 98279
located on Orcas Island which is only accessible by boat, ferry or small airplanes.
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