Winter at Belknap Hot Springs Lodge and Gardens

A view of the cold and raging McKenzie River in Winter
A view of the cold, raging McKenzie River in Winter

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A quick overview

Belknap Hot Springs is a beautiful lodge with rooms for rent, cabins, RV sites (many with full hook-ups) and tent sites. We have only ever stayed in an RV spot, and have favorite spots for when we are there alone and when we are glamping with our friends, the Boals’. The sites are well-maintained and easy to get in and out of. Not to mention the gorgeous garden landscaping and friendly, helpful staff. The lodge has a small but well-stocked store with firewood, ice, some very common grocery items and keepsakes. I picked up a pamphlet about the history of Belknap that was very fascinating!

An advertisement from the 
Oregon State Journal, June 20, 1874 as reprinted in the Belknap resort and Hot Springs Historical Guide
An advertisement from the
Oregon State Journal, June 20, 1874

Setting up “Glamp”

Norman and I arrived in the evening on Friday. It was great to see all the holiday lights and decorations up at the lodge – we don’t get to see that in the Spring! It is still 2020, and we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, so in the interest of maintaining social distancing guidelines, we were required to sign up for our hot pool sessions to ensure a very limited number of people in the pool at any one time. Once that was done, we pulled in to our site and while Norman got everything connected, I got busy with the most important part of camp set up – the cocktails! After dinner we had our evening hot pool soak. It was raining heavily but I didn’t mind at all in the warm pool. After pool time, I beat Norm at a few rounds of Cribbage. Let me gloat – that never happens.

Japanese Gardens and Camp fire Cocktails

On this adventure it was just Norman and I until our travelling companions, Kim and Aaron arrived the following evening. We left the dogs at home with our daughter who is visiting from college for Winter Break. It was strange opening the RV door without having to brace for a dog escape, I missed them. On Saturday the rain let up to just a drizzle when it rained at all. We took a walk through the Japanese gardens to admire all of the improvements that have been done since we were there last. We made a campfire and enjoyed a couple drinks before it started raining again. I found a pretty silver charm embossed with paisleys next tor fire pit-if no one claims it I suppose I will add it to my so far nonexistent walking stick I plan to make. Hopefully it doesn’t have a ghost attached!

Another photo of my feet in front of the camp fire.
Obligatory toasty toes photo

Kim and Aaron arrived just in time to enjoy fajita dinner with us, then it was pool time again. Who showed up at the pool with umbrellas? Kim and Aaron. They were smart enough to think of it. We’ve been going to Belknap for YEARS in the rain and snow and it never once occurred to me to use an umbrella in the pool. Brilliant. I did find that holding the umbrella made it difficult to float casually around and difficult open and drink from my water bottle.

After our Saturday night soak, we taught Kim and Aaron how to play Texas Hold’em. I was having such a great time watching Kim laughing and betting on everything. It is always fun to watch someone that has never played. And since we weren’t playing for money it really was all in good fun.

The flooded Secret Garden at Belknap
The flooded Secret Garden at Belknap

The Secret Garden

Sunday was a little cooler and a lot wetter, but that didn’t stop us from hiking over to the secret gardens. I wanted to see if there had been equally impressive improvements there, but it was flooded. Where there is normally a small waterfall, there was rapid river water gushing in. It was still lovely. There is an old powerhouse along the trail to the Secret Gardens, that has always reminded me of some raider shelter from a post-apocalyptic video game. It has had some improvements done and it now looks similar to a pretty pagoda perched above the creek. You can go up into it and see the old gears and machinery.

Heading Home

We had decided to check out Monday, even though we had reserved until Tuesday. I was awaiting some important calls and emails that I couldn’t receive up there. There is limited cell service for other carriers and none for AT&T. They have wi-fi at the lodge but it is slow and unreliable at best, so I wasn’t upset when Norman started hinting that he was ready to head home during our morning soak. You know what happens next- Norman insists I take my time, enjoy, we’ll stay as long as I want, while he is packing everything up to go! So I begin preparing to head home too-
I miss my puppies anyway, and we are already planning our trip back for Spring Break! Until then, Happy Glamping!

Norman and I modeling the hands-free umbrellas we got for Christmas.
Hands-free umbrellas? Best invention ever!


Kim and Aaron got us these hands-free umbrellas for Christmas! Now, Norman can use his umbrella and avoid his head being pelted by ice cold rain, and I can casually float around with my umbrella AND my hands free!

If you would like to read about our last trip to Belknap, see my post: Belknap Hot Springs

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