A jewel in the high desert.
In one of the two series of pools, clear warm water was gushing out by itself.
Southeastern Oregon is an almost uninhabited high desert region, and anyone who travels all the way to this area is likely to have more than a passing interest in hot springs.
Willow Creek Hot Springs can be reached via Whitehorse Ranch Lane, which connects the small communities of Basque and Fields, both in Oregon.
It is a dirt road in good condition and can be reached by ordinary passenger vehicles if it is not raining.
From Whitehorse Ranch Ln, take the dirt road branching off to the south toward the hot springs.
White Horse Ranch was founded in 1869 by John S. Devine, a well-known 19th-century cattle baron.
It is a historic ranch that has been consistently in the cattle business since and has grazing rights on 63,222 acres of owned land and 287,205 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.
Willow Creek Hot Springs is a wild hot spring on the public lands.
The surrounding area is a BLM campground, and camping is free as long as you stay at least 100 feet from the water.
However, the only available facility is a single pit toilet, making it for advanced campers.
The area had been inhabited by Native Americans (Northern Paiute) before Devine’s settlement.
It was easy to imagine that the hot springs were an important source of water.
The pools appeared along the dirt road and seemed sudden because of the lack of vegetation.
They were characterized by two rows of pools, separated by a concrete wall between them.
I noticed that the water in the smaller pool was extremely clear.
Rocks were lying on the bottom and soft sand was visible near the center.
Thermal water was gushing out on its own, creating ripples on the surface of the water.
On the half side, the larger pool was located at a lower level and was muddy.
The smaller one had a comfortable water temp of 109 degrees F.
The water was almost tasteless and odorless, and it was mysterious to see it spring up from the ground.
The overflowing water fell into the larger one, and there seemed to be no gush of geothermal water there.
It was a great soaking environment for a little development and not overdevelopment.