Surrounded by tall grass and countless sagebrushes, South Harney Lake Hot Springs is located at the southeastern edge of the Harney Lake, inside a caldera of the 1,500 square-mile Harney Basin. The basin was formed over 30 thousand years ago by the volcanic activity when lava flows separated the watershed of the basin from the Malheur River.
One of the hottest springs of the Harney Basin with distinctive sulfur ("rotten eggs") smell, South Harney Lake Hot Springs are formed by a series of geothermal seeps with a great flow (over 450 liters per minute). The temperature of the geothermal sources is about 140-150 degrees F. The hot mineral water from the colorful pond runs into a natural channel and then diverted into two dug-out pools. The water cools quickly while flowing through the channel and becomes comfortable for soaking further from the source.
There's one hill nearby, but most of the landscape is quite flat, allowing for panoramic views of the vast desert, alkaline Harney Lake, and distant mountains.
Unfortunately, South Harney Lake Hot Springs does not provide the cleanest or safest soaking experience, due to its very high temperatures and muddy interior. Two pools are located a few yards downstream but it looks nasty and not suggested for soaking. Some red mites are also found at the edges of the pools.
The plastic tub or any container is one of the options to take a soak at South Harney Hot Springs. You can fill it with hot water from the channel. The water downstream of the pools is cleaner and hot enough to take a bath (100-110°F).
Overnight camping is not prohibited here. If you ever visit this area, be sure to leave no trace behind!
Access allowed: 365 days a year
Services: No services are available
Accommodations: Camping is allowed
Distance from the parking: Short
Day-use fees: None
South Harney Lake Hot Springs are located:
- 34 miles south of Burns
- 165 miles southeast of Bend
- 315 miles southeast of Portland.
Elevation: 4,100 ft (1,250 m)
Water T° (source): 140-150°F (60-65°C)
Water acidity level: Neutral (pH=7.26)
Type of the springs: Sodium Bicarbonate Chloride
Chemical used: None
- From Burns, drive south on OR-205 to South Harney Lake Lane
- Turn right (west) just before milepost 24 onto South Harney Lake Lane (South Harney Road) and drive 8.2 miles
- Bear right at the fork and continue 0.2 miles to the hot springs.
After heavy rain, roads can be wet and muddy. High-clearance vehicles are recommended.