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Hot springs getaways

Popular destinations on the Olympic peninsula

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is more swimming pool than a natural place to soak. Photo Credit:

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Widely sought after as a relaxing getaway as well as for possible healing properties, natural hot springs are popular vacation destinations worldwide. Hot springs are a natural phenomenon beginning deep underground as fresh water seeps past the heated rocks of the Earth's mantle. When the heated water breaks the surface of the earth, pools form, and a hot spring is born. The Olympic Peninsula is home to two very different hot springs getaways providing a little something for anyone looking to enjoy the benefits of a warm soak.

Located in the beautiful Olympic National Park just outside of Port Angeles, Olympic Hot Springs is a nature lover's dream. This series of hot spring seeps near Boulder Creek are accessible only by foot. Visitors looking for this primitive, outdoors hot springs experience will begin their journey with a two and a half mile hike up Appleton Pass Trail beginning at Olympic Hot Springs Road. As you near your destination, you'll likely smell the springs before you see them as a sulfurous smell signals their location. Upon arriving you will find seven natural mud and rock bottom hot springs with an average depth of about one foot. The average temperature of the Olympic Hot Springs ranges from 85 to 105 degrees.

It's important to note that Olympic Hot Springs are true primitive hot springs and are not maintained or monitored by the Olympic National Park. Visitors are asked to enjoy the springs at their own risk.

If a slightly less outdoorsy experience is what you are looking for, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort may be a better choice. Open to the public seven days a week from late March to mid-October each year, the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers the same relaxing warm waters of the primitive Olympic Hot Springs in a more resort-like atmosphere. The resort boasts three mineral-soaking pools and one freshwater pool to choose from with depths ranging from six to eight inches in the wading pool to around three feet in the two larger mineral pools. Each of the mineral pools range from about 99 to 105 degrees at all times while the freshwater pool temperature will vary seasonally from 50 to 85 degrees.

Though an onsite stay isn't necessary to enjoy the mineral-soaking pools at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, various accommodations are offered including cabin rentals, RV parking, and the luxurious River Suite, which boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen and dining area and sleeps ten. Also on site you will find a restaurant, poolside-deli, and convenience store. Military discounts are available for pool use.

Why do so many vacationers visit hot springs each year? Primarily hot springs are seen as a source of relaxation and stress reduction. Soaking in the hot spring waters provides a warm, soothing sensation to tired and achy muscles and joints. However, many people believe that hot springs can provide real medical benefits as well. Depending on the water's mineral content and temperature some hot springs enthusiasts tout benefits such as enhanced circulation and digestion, nasal decongestion, and improvement of various skin conditions. While few formal studies have been done to confirm any factual medical benefits, hot springs therapy is an accepted popular treatment for various medical conditions, like high blood pressure and eczema, is some areas of Europe and Japan.

Whatever the reason for your hot springs getaway and whether you prefer soaking in the great outdoors or poolside in a resort, Olympic Peninsula has you covered.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, open seven days a week (March  27 to Oct. 18), 12076 Sol Duc Hot Springs Road, Port Angeles 1.866.4SOLDUC

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