Snively Hot Springs in Eastern Oregon


Snively Hot Springs in Oregon

Just inside the canyon near the north end of Lake Owyhee you'll find the Snively Hot Springs Recreation site. This BLM day use only site typically features 1 or 2 pools that submerge during spring runoff. Their condition depends upon how they are rebuilt after runoff. I have seen a wide variety of pool types; some with designs much more successful than others.

02.06.08 Trip Report

After navigating the maze of not-quite grid roads near Parma and Adel I was able to locate Owyhee Canyon road. I once again found myself entering the high desert canyon after a 2 year absence. The lack of snow, abundance of birds and occasional splash of green grass were a quiet reminder of the high desert prelude to spring.

The cold air temperature revealed the steam from the often elusive Deer Butte Hot Springs from the road. A quick check affirmed my suspicion; despite the existence of water hot enough for soaking, this hot springs still lacks the proper flow required for a healthy soak. That would explain why the remnants were of a concrete pool that would only support a solo soak.

A few minutes later, the pullout for Snively was in sight. Nighttime closure? Unfortunately, yes, it is still posted. No overnight camping, no fires. You can, however, camp either up or down the road. Plus, the recreation site for Snively has a pit toilet.... deluxe accommodations indeed for a hot springs in the semi-remote high desert of eastern Oregon.

Sunburst at Snively

In 1998 the BLM finally decided to close the Snively Hot Spring Recreational Site from sundown to sunrise. The nighttime closure was actually due to assaults, physical fights, minors consuming alcohol and drug usage... not because of the trashed grounds, according to a BLM document I was able to review online.

A friend of IDHS (ARGUS) informed me that a couple years ago there was a particular fight that resulted in the Malhuer County Sheriff Dept. patrolling this area on a regular basis. Apparently a group of 4 or 5 people fought with and killed an individual at or near Snively.

This was my 4th visit to Snively since December of 2002, and I have yet to encounter any form of disorderly conduct at the recreation site or hot springs. There is something I have run into every visit here, TRASH. Tons of it. The levels have gone down over the years, but this is sadly still one of the most trashed hot springs I've come across. What goes on here anyway? The only people I have witnessed are fishermen, bird hunters and families. My experience leads me to reasoning that expose all 3 groups as culprits.

Snively Source

The source of Snively registered 137° on my digital thermometer. The river pool closest to the bank at 119°, the adjacent pool between 107° - 110° and the smallest pool at 103°. I've seen the pool formation change with each visit and this time was no exception. This time, the pools were deep; 3-4 feet in some places. And - hot!! The rock wall developers did a great job. I would have preferred temperatures a tad cooler, but the freezing 30 mph wind did a good job of tempering the exceptionally hot water.

To be honest, I didn't even plan on soaking. I was going to check out the hot springs while hiking in the area, but quickly decided it was just too good of a pool to not soak in. Once in the pool, I expected the hot water to churn with the cold river water to provide continual blasts of hot and cold. Thankfully, this was not the case because the pool depth kept the water a consistent temperature. Thus, an excellent soak was had.

Nick @ Snively

Soon, Spring will bring more visitors back into the canyon along with lush colors and spring runoff, which submerges the pools at Snively. I witnessed only one other vehicle in the area the entire day, a truck pulling 2 ORVs coming from the direction of Lake Owyhee.

Rating: A- (trash deduction)

View additional pictures, trip reports, video clips of Snively Hot Springs


Anonymous said...

Those photos are pretty awesome. Never been in that part of the country but I definitely want to visit now.


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