Hot Lake Hotel is located on the bank of Hot Lake, one of the largest hot springs in the world. Mineral geothermal water emerges from two or more spring orifices at a temperature between 180° and 208° Fahrenheit and flows into the 8-acre pond at a rate of about 3 million gallons per day. According to the State Department of Geology, there are several hot springs that occur in a narrow northwest-trending fault zone that extends from Hot Lake at the north to Union Junction which is about 3.5 miles southeast.
There is a bathhouse between the lake and Hot Lake Hotel as well as soaking tubs on the lakeshore. The hot water at 200°F is pumped into hot tubs from the artesian well.
The facility does not have a day-use option. However, walk-ins bathing is available for $25/hour per person. Unlimited soaking is reserved for overnight guests.
Brief History of Hot Lake Springs
Prior to 1812, Native Americans used the hot lake as a place to nurse sick or injured people. In 1812, the steaming hot lake was discovered and recorded by Robert Stuart during the Pacific Fur expedition. Between the 1840s and 1860s, 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 hotel with 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 'Hot Lake Sanitarium' or 'Mayo Clinic of the West’. Hot Lake Springs became a very popular spot because of innovative techniques in medicine and new medical equipment, including X-ray. Dr. Phy passed away in 1931 and 3 years later a fire destroyed most of the Hot Lake's structures.
Within the next 70 years, Hot Lake Resort was a receiver of multiple grants and changed hands several times. Finally, in 2003 David and Lee Manuel purchased the property marking the beginning of a long restoration process. In the year 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.
According to numerous ghost stories, Hot Lake Hotel is a haunted property. In 2001, the American paranormal reality show on ABC Family reported the hotel as one of the "Scariest Places on the Earth". We can't tell if the scary stories are true or false, but this historic hotel attracts those who are looking for thrilling paranormal adventures.
In 1979, Hot Lake Hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hot Lake Springs | General Description
Location: La Grande
Development: Resort, hot tubs
Service: Spa salon, restaurant, art gallery, museum
Distance from the parking: Short
Road Access: Any vehicle, the road can be blocked by snow
Day-use fees: For resort guests only; walk-ins option $25/hour for a person
Elevation: 2,800 ft (853 m)
Hot Lake Springs is located:
- 6 miles northwest of Union
- 9 miles southeast of La Grande
- 268 miles east of Portland.
Things to Do and See
The 3,200-acre Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area is a wildlife preservation sanctuary that provides habitat for breeding, nesting, and migration of birds.