Ritter Hot Springs + Ghost Town

When was the last time you soaked at a natural hot springs in the middle of an old Ghost Town?

So far there are 2 places I have done this and treasure both of them, one is Ritter Hot Springs, in Ritter, OR, and the other is one we snowmobiled 22 miles to this past winter, Burgdorf Hot Springs, near McCall Idaho. If you been to another mineral rich hot springs ghost town, please do tell! I am sure there have to be more out there that I just don’t know about yet! And I would also love to hear about any of your favorite hot springs, please comment below!

Mineral Water fed Swimming Pool at Ritter Hot Springs

Last week 8 wonderful ladies (+3 husbands, + 7 kids) joined me at Ritter Hot Springs for a Raw Food Retreat!! We soaked in the hot mineral springs water, relaxed in the sunshine, and swam until the stars came out. We also prepared a rawsome dinner, breakfast and lunch together!

Betty Rawker Raw Food Retreat at Ritter Hot Springs

One of the most enjoyed recipes on the trip was the Raw Key Lime Pie we made (recipe here), after a full on Raw Taco Fiesta Dinner with Raw Pasta and Wilted Kale Salad. Another favorite recipe was the Raw Donut Holes (recipe) we enjoyed for breakfast with our Fresh Fruit Cereal & Chia Pudding, and Dandy Blend lattes. For lunch we enjoyed Raw Thai Style Salad Rolls and Zucchini Pasta with my Favorite Toasted Sesame Sauce. We truly enjoyed a bounty of fresh produce!

Ritter has always been one of my top favorite hot springs get-aways. It truly is like taking a step back in time when you visit. The old hotel rooms rent for $30 a night, and are as rustic as the old wild west. I love the bare bones charm of the rooms, and the fact that when you check in, you just put your money in an old coffee can in the old building that used to house the Ritter Post Office and General Store.

Old Post Office and Store at Ritter Hot Springs

There are now 2 cabins you can rent for just $81 a night, (sleeps 7 people, 2 private rooms downstairs, 3 twin beds in the open loft upstairs) that are really quite nice! Below is a picture of the one I rented to host the raw food workshop in. There is a nice full kitchen with a fridge, oven, sink, dining table, and all the utensils, plates, and serving ware you need to fix a dinner for 8 to 10 people. I am already looking forward to renting this cabin again in the near future for some more rest & relaxation! (The retreat guests all stayed in their own private motel rooms around the corner)

Cabin you can rent at Ritter Hot Springs

And important note for anyone planning in visiting Ritter Hot Springs, the quaint little resort is only open Sunday through Thursday evening. You cannot soak on Fridays or Saturdays. They are also only open in the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You can phone ahead for reservations by calling 541-421-3846 or visit their website here: http://ritterhotsprings.com/

In addition to the warm springs swimming pool, there are also 4 old cement hot tubs up on the side of the hill across the middle fork of the John Day River, a short walk over this old swinging bridge. And be sure to check out the old shower stall situated to the left of this bridge, where you will find the most amazing outdoor shower in all of the world! Just crank over the industrial isolation valve, and hot water will come gushing out of a full pipe above your head, giving your back the ultimate hot water massage. A feeling of euphoria will wash over you in this shower. I call it “bathing in bliss”!

Swinging Bridge over the Middle Fork John Day River

Ritter is a good 5.5 hour drive east of Portland, and since we were already headed that way, my husband and I decided to make a full weekend out of the trip. The first night we staid in a nice big lodge style B&B near Imnaha, in the remote NE corner of Oregon, near Hell’s Canyon and the Snake River which divides Oregon from Idaho. The we took the “summer only” route around the Wallowas, also known as the “Swiss Alps of Oregon” and spent the night in Halfway at the cutest and most classic B&B ever, the Clear Creek Bed and Breakfast. I will do a post soon on all the wild berries and ghost towns we found in this region, along with the details on the fire lookout tower, we staid in for the 4th night of our trip! #summervacation

From here we had to cross over Baker City and head back west to Ritter where I was leading the raw food retreat.

Can you guess where this desert road leads too!?

dirt road

 Since we were already out here in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, I did some serious google searching to try and find some local and organic produce. The owners of Val’s Veggies, near Baker City, invited us over their farm early Sunday morning, well outside of normal business hours, to pick fresh produce right from the ground for the retreat! And what a cool experience that was, but I will tell you, as we drove around on remote dirt roads trying to find their farm on Sunday morning (they normally sell their veggies at a produce stand in Baker City on weekdays) I was growing quite skeptical if we were going to find their farm! The picture above was taken on the road to their farm. Um, are you sure there is the kale growing out here….

We finally found the farm, and boy did I strike the gold mine! Fresh organic zucchini, lettuces, kale, mint, basil, and I also purchased sweet onions, organic cherries, and peaches from them, that were grown on other farms in the region. I really owe Val’s Veggies a huge thankful for providing such great produce for this retreat!! Below is one of the farmers at Val’s Veggies picking fresh zucchini for me!

When I asked if they get many rattlesnakes in their gardens, he said, “Well, yes, and no.” So thankful for our farmers, they really do work hard for us, rattle snakes and all. Hug a farmer, seriously!


 So do tell, what are your favorite hot springs to visit!!? Please comment below, I would love to hear about them!

Photo by Here and Gone Media at Ritter Hot SpringsAbove photo by Here and Gone Media

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