Located approximately 60 miles from Portland, Austin Hot Springs aka Carey Hot Springs are series of natural hot springs, heated by volcanic activity. This beautiful spot in the Mt. Hood National Forest along the Clackamas River attracts hundreds of visitors each year due to its proximity to the largest city of Oregon.
Geothermal water runs from several sources on both sides of the river. The hot water also emerges from the river bottom directly from hydrothermal vents.
The main Austin soaking area with large pools is built on the roadside of the Clackamas River. The pools have different sizes and different temperature. Those which is colder are situated close to the river.
Austin Hot Springs has been known as dangerous because it can have a sudden burst of boiling water with temperatures up to 200°F (93°C). Reports released by the Oregon Burn Center showed that at least 50 people have suffered from minor to serious burns from this extremely hot spring water. Just recently, 3 adults and a child were treated at the Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Medical after suffering from serious burns from the pool that they had created along the river.
The dangerously hot spots with bubbling and steamy water are marked by wires and red signs. However, the water near its boiling point can come unexpectedly from the bottom of the soaking pools. The thermal injury will occur with just five seconds of exposure to 140-degree F (60°C) water.
There are soaking pools along the far side of the river, a few yards upstream. This is a more secluded and safe area. The hot water gushes out of a cliff and can be easily segregated and mixed with cold river water.
Austin Hot Springs has been privately owned for more than a century. This means that any person accessing this spring without authorization from the owner is actually trespassing. Portland General Electric owned the site until 1985 and sold it when a few burning incidents took place. During decades, the site's owners supported the efforts of local agencies to stop unauthorized usage of hot springs to prevent thermal burns and, also, restore a natural pathway for salmon runs.
However, people keep coming, some carrying bags of concrete, old rugs, dirty carpets, and build soaking pools along the Clackamas River.
Access: Private property
Service: No services are available
Accommodations: No camping at the hot springs
Distance from the parking: Short
Day-use fees: None
Austin Hot Springs are located:
- 32 miles southeast of Estacada
- 60 miles southeast of Portland
- 84 miles east of Salem.
Elevation: 1,750 ft (533 m)
GPS: 45.0204, -122.0061
Water T° (source): 180°F (82°C) - 200°F (93°C)
Type of the springs: Sodium chloride
Water acidity level: Neutral (pH=7.63)
Flow rate: 1,000 l/min
Chemical used: None
- From Estacada (junction OR-224 and OR-224E), travel 25.3 miles southeast on Highway 224, Highway 224 becomes the Forest Road NF-46
- Bear right after the Ripplebrook Ranger Station and the bridge across the Oak Grove Clackamas River
- Drive 6.4 miles on NF-46 along the Clackamas River to the massive iron gate on the right.