Getting Away from Everything at Ritter Hot Springs

July 31, 2009 at 10:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

ritter hotel and poolOne place that gets me through the dawg days of summer is the little Ghost Town Get-a-way of Ritter Hot Springs. It’s a little spot where time has literally stood still. A room with a bed in the old hotel will run you $30 per night, or you can simply pitch a tent on the cool green lawn for $11 per night, with the dips in the hot springs and pool included. You can also call ahead and reserve a private cabin, 541-421-3846. To start your little vacation you just slide your dues into a coffee can in the abandoned little store, and maybe even purchase a popsicle or ice for the summer evening.

camping on the lawn

I fell in love my first trip there last summer. The stars were aligned, and everything was just so divine. I have since realized that you should always sign the Guest Book when you visit a place, that way you can verify that all those fond memories you have created in your mind truly did take place. I was in love with life, in love with my boyfriend at the time, and in love with finding such a little gem tucked away along the Middle Fork of the John Day River. Somewhere in between Long Creek and Ukiah off Hwy 395 you take a left for roughly 10 miles and leave your everyday life and chores behind.

ritter store

One year later, life is still great, the work seems to have gotten longer, the love life a little sparser, but hey, Ritter Hot Springs is still there! I packed the dogs in the car a few nights ago and drove along the windy roads to this little pet friendly oasis. I stopped at the Thomas Orchards in Kimberly along the way, a destination in itself. Open from 8am to 6pm daily during the summer. You can pick Peaches, Plums, Pears, Nectarines, and Cherries right off the trees, or purchase fresh fruits, preserves, and homemade slices of pie right out of the little country store. The prices at Kimberly are most reasonable, a must stop indeed.

swinging bridget The swimming pool at Ritter is a great place to grab a complimentary water noodle, lay back and float until the stars come out and twinkle in the summer night sky. If you want a more private and rustic experience, then you simply take a hop over the swinging bridge and meander up the hill to soak in 1 of 4 old tubs. The tubs are built of turquoise painted cement blocks and remind me of old ruins in Greece, and while I have never been to Greece, I image there is a little out of the way place there that looks very similar. At tuqouiseRitter, there is also a one of a kind shower, which must truly be experienced. You simply step into this little outdoor stall, yank down on this big isolation valve, and let the hot water come pouring down over your head. I doubt there is a shower on this planet that pumps out more gallons per minute of hot water to wash your cares down the drain. 

 If you are lucky, the owner may share with you a true ghost story or two while you heat up you cup of coffee and breakfast at a picnic table on the lawn or enjoy a soak in the pool. Before you head that way, I should mention, Ritter Hot Springs is open to the public Sunday through Thursday, closed on Fridays & Saturdays. It’s also seasonal, open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, which makes this place even more of a special get-a-way. Check out: You will also need to pack in your own meals, and my best advice is to pick up some fresh fruit at Kimberly along the way up the John Day!

 old hotel

Country Cupboard Bean Dip

I came up with this little recipe after a recent visit with some friends who brought out all sorts of yummy foods from town. I don’t think I had had bean dip in over a year, and quickly decided I was missing out. Here is what I threw together and gosh darn it if it didn’t taste better than the store bought stuff.

1 can pinto beans, drained

Juice from 1 lime

A couple home grown hot peppers

Fresh Herbs from the Garden: cilantro, basil, mint, etc.

Cupboard Spices: salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika

I think a few cloves of garlic would also make a nice addition. Puree it all together in a food processor. Serve with tortilla chips.

*as published in the August Issue of The Horesefly



  1. The Great Northeast Oregon Hot Springs Tour « Galwith750acres's Weblog said,

  2. Victor Maritnez said,

    I love this place. Is so nice and quiet. The owner is such a nice person. The water temperature is perfect. The only thing I don’t like is that the place is closed from 9 pm Friday to 9 pm Saturday. I spent hours and hours swimming and soaking. I had such a blast. I highly recommend it.

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