Brief History of the Hot Lake Springs
Before 1812 the Hot Lake Springs of Eastern Oregon was used as a place to nurse the sick or injured. Robert Stuart from the Wilson Price Hunt expedition discovered the hot springs in 1812. Between the 1840s and 1860s, the Hot Lake Springs became a popular destination for those traveling along the Oregon Trail. What started as a 'Town Under One Roof’ in 1864, developed into a grand three-story brick resort with its 105 rooms by the end of 1908.
The healing properties of the hot springs prompted Dr. Phy to turn the third floor of the resort into a state-of-the-art medical facility known as the 'Hot Lake Sanitarium' or 'Mayo Clinic of the West’. The Hot Lake Springs became a very popular spot because of innovated techniques in medicine and new medical equipment, including X-ray. In 1931 Dr. Phy passed away and 3 years later a fire destroyed most of the Hot Lake's structures.
Within the next 70 years, the Hot Lake Resort was the receiver of multiple grants and changed hands several times. Finally, in 2003 the Manuel Family purchased the property marking the beginning of a long restoration process. In 2010 Hot Lake Springs welcomed its first overnight guests.
The main focus of the area is not to 'take in the waters’ but rather to enjoy the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere while absorbing the rich history of the region. Exploring the surroundings such as the Ladd Marsh State Wildlife Area is also an enjoyable activity. History buffs would be enthralled by the Native American artifacts on display in the exhibit space; in particular, the Nez Perce display.
Hot Lake Springs Features
Hot Lake Springs are the largest springs in the world. There are two or more spring orifices where 180° to 208° Fahrenheit mineral thermal water flows into the 8-acre pond at about 3 million gallons per day. According to the State Department of Geology, there are several hot springs occur in a narrow northwest trending zone that extends from Hot Lake at the north to Union Junction which is about 3.5 miles southeast.
Access: 365 days a year
Development: Resort, hot tubs
Service: Spa salon, restaurant, art gallery, museum
Walking distance from the parking: None
Fees: Lodging rates are available on the official website, $25/per hour for soaking
Elevation: 2800 ft (853 m)
GPS coordinates: 45.243,-117.9607
Hot Lake Springs are located:
- 6 miles northwest of Union
- 8.4 miles southeast of La Grande
- 268 miles east of Portland.
Address: 66172 Oregon 203, La Grande, OR 97850
Water Properties & Geochemistry
Water temperature (source): 208°F (98°С)
Water acidity level: Alkaline (pH=9.5)
Type of the springs: Sodium Chloride
Chemical used: None
Average dissolved solids: 461 Mg/L
Chloride - 129 Mg/L
Sodium - 128 Mg/L
Silica - 81 Mg/L
Sulfate- 56 Mg/L
Carbonate -31 Mg/L
Hydroxide - 4 Mg/L
Calcium - 3.6 Mg/L
Potassium -2.7 Mg/L
Fluoride - 1.6 Mg/L
Magnesium - 0.3 Mg/L
Iron - 0.01 Mg/L
From I-84, take exit 265 for OR-203 toward La Grande. Continue for 5.3 miles to OR-203 South, turn right onto OR-203, and follow 5 miles to the destination.