Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center leaves you alone in the woods—in a good way.
There’s getting out of town, and then there’s really getting out of town. Breitenbush Hot Springs, east of Detroit, Oregon, is maybe one of the last places in the state (or anywhere?) where you can sleep in the woods with little danger of being interrupted by the irritants of civilization, technology or even your own vices.
At Breitenbush, not only is there no cell service or wifi, but you will be asked to consume an organic vegetarian diet (provided for you) accompanied by no alcohol, no tobacco and no caffeine. Meditation, yoga, ecstatic dancing, silence—these are all encouraged, as is clothing-optional soaking in one of seven outdoor hot spring-fed pools. When you don’t even need clothes, that’s about as purist as it gets.
Breitenbush has existed as a gathering place since Native Americans inhabited the area. In the 1920s, a Portlander who invented the first ice cream cone machine turned his profits into a resort on the banks of the Breitenbush River. In the 1970s, hippie culture came along and Breitenbush embraced it, as it still does today. If you want to know what Oregon was like four decades ago, it lives on in these sprightly woods. Think bell bottoms, unkempt hair and an exceptional amount of hugging.
The setting has been the stand-out feature over time. The historic lodge, meeting structures, cabins and tent-sites of Breitenbush are surrounded by a lush and magical forest cut through by the glistening Breitenbush River. Salmon swim in the river, deer wander through, eagles fly overhead.
Trails take you deeper into the woods, where even the modest crowds of a busy Breitenbush summer day fall away. Here, a mile or so up the trail, belly full of organic vegetables and marionberry lemonade, hold still and take in the silence, the scent of the woods, the thermal energy teeming beneath your feet. For a moment, these are all that matter; this is all there is. You can’t help but feel present and grateful, in that woods alone, which leads you to suspect that maybe the Breitenbush purists are on to something after all.