This little town caught us completely by surprise. We’d been camping for a week and Lava was just off old Highway 30 AND, if you still read maps, the Historic Oregon Trail. Miles from the nearest interstate, and west beyond the Rockies. Welcome to the high prairie.
Time to get the campfire smoke out of our clothes and take a good soak in the hot springs. A perfect stop to catch up with any wi-fi (and laundry) that was available in this 50’s era motel so that we could get back on track or back “on the grid” before continuing west into Eastern Oregon.
Smack dab in the middle of a gap in the foothills of the Portneuf Mountains, a bit west of Yellowstone where the wagons of early settlers of the Oregon Trail carved ruts into the prairie. A certain stop for these weary travelers. And us.
What attracted us to Lava Hot Springs was the drive down main street which had the Old West charm you’ll only find off the beaten trail, on what was once the Oregon Trail. We showed up too early for the summer revelers in what locals refer to this time of year as “mud season”. Just in time for a full moon party in the 106° healing waters of the Portneuf River.
We showed up and that’s what counts. The slogan in this town is “Earn Your Soak “. With hiking trails in every direction we certainly earned ours. This was a two mile hike, one mile straight up, then back towards the hot springs, straight down. A 2000′ foot elevation gain to a summit of 7000′ feet in about an hour. First time I’ve ever felt a tingling in my 50 year-old knees. Yes, they earned this soak.
Couldn’t ask for a better night: the full moon, starry sky, sore knees, tumbling waters. Ready for the final leg of our journey back to Oregon where it all started two years ago. That’s historic!
Couldn’t ask for a better road trip. Covering 20,000 miles, crossing the Rockies twice, Thor is almost home. He’s earned his soak. This old wagon just needs a good parking spot in Portland.