DIRECTIONS: Go east on State Route 126 to mile marker 45
and turn right on the small road near the Cougar Reservoir sign (not
the dam). Go past the bridge, turn right and go about three miles to the dam.
Bear right again and go about four miles until you see a small lake on your
right. You should also see a small waterfall. Park on the left side of the road
and look fro a trail-head on the north side of the lake. You then have a steep
quarter mile hike to the
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002
I just returned from a trip to the cougar
Yes there is a fee now, $3 it's not much, the money is used to help keep the place up and the pools are scrubbed out every Thursday morning. It is also closed from sunset to sunrise. Although, I have stopped there many times in the middle of the night for a couple hour soak and was never hassled. The rangers do stop in at the springs and check for passes and escort those who do not have them back to their cars and ask them to leave. They have been known to give $50 tickets, mainly if you hassle them.
This last trip, I arrived at the springs at about 4am. There were no passes to purchase at the "booth" in the parking area; but I decided that I would go any way. After about an hour soaking in total solitude, several others joined me, shortly after that the rangers showed up asking for our passes. A couple had the annual pass, but the rest of us were able to purchase a pass on the spot. The rangers (both women) were very kind and professional and wished us a great soak and were on their way.
If you go there this summer, you will notice that cougar reservoir is completely empty! They are trying to make it deeper to make it colder for the fish.......? Who knows?
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000
I really didn't like having to pay (nor the ranger watching over us) but loved the springs, loved the variety of pools and people.
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (-T.)
Had a few hours to run up to Cougar yesterday. Hadn't been since all of the hullabaloo over continuing the clothing optional tradition earlier this year. Yes, there is a $3 per person daily fee for using the hot spring. No, it didn't seem to slow down the Rainbow folk as predicted, they were well represented.
Daily permits can now be purchased on site (at the parking area) rather than
from some merchant on the main highway. Is it worth the 3 bucks? YES! Cougar
remains one of the best
While I was there the forest service folks were giving a tour to a whole bunch of clothed folk, seemed to be highlighting the improvements and such for the locals(?). Perhaps the recent controversey will have a positive outcome.
Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998
From: Rob Downer (email@example.com)
Just thought I would share a bad tale with you regarding Cougar Hot Springs
It was June 23rd 1998. I had only been to two
My expectation was that I would find a drop box, or even a more advanced electronic alternative (being that we were right next to a huge reservoir). There was nothing there, no booth, no place to get the passes. We decided to go anyway being that we only had about an hour before the sun went down. My anticipation had us out and hiking to the springs at a quick pace.
We arrived and found lots of folks there. It was one of the most ideal places I have ever seen. We wasted no time getting into one of the four pools.
Our soak was heavenly even though we only could stay an hour. We decided to head out to save ourselves from any fines. We drove about 15 minutes down the road to the camp sites near the highway. There we found the drop box for the campground. I was very good and made sure to pay for our night (even though I noticed 5 other campers there that did not pay).
The next morning I got up before the sunrise. Packed up camp with my friend and we drove up to the springs. Again, no booth, no drop box, nothing. We read the sign and noticed that we could drive back to a town about 20 - 30 minutes away and pay for a $3 pass. Seemed to me like an awful waste of time, fuel, and bad for the environment.
We decided to chance it. Upon our arrival we met one person soaking. It was a very comfortable place to be naked - but we were two men. I am sure it would be a little strange for women being that there was quite the strange riff raff there.
Both my friend and I were very much upset by the trash that we found strewn about the springs. Aluminum soda cans floating in the water, plastic, cigarette butts. There had been a lot going on the night before that we did not see.
After 30 minutes of cleaning things up we were able to hop in. We soaked for an about two hours when, as my eyes were closed and I was in a state of bliss and total deep meditation I was startled by an angry voice "GOOD MORNING this is the US Forest Service Law Enforcement, may I please see your passes".
It seemed as though this chap really got his kicks out of harassing naked people with long hair, beards, and such. I stood in front of him, unclothed. Steam rose from my body. I approached him slowly and calmly, standing very close I looked into his eyes and said "Officer, I am afraid I have no pass showing that I can soak in this here natural spring"
His reply was simply "Sir, if you would back away from me and slowly remove your identification from your bag please". His hand on his holstered fire arm, I stood there still naked and steaming.
He then began his grand ticket/citation writing abilities. I remain unclothed. We asked if we could buy passes from him and he then told us that it was too late for that. He asked me to get dressed and he would accompany us back to our vehicles.
We walked slowly down the trail, making it excruciating for this officer. I know he is doing his job but it seemed as though he was enjoying this a little too much.
At the vehicles he was making comments like "Because of sex crimes here we have had to charge fees"
He then said "People who don't pay are who we are trying to keep out, they are typically people like yourselves"
He passed judgement on us. He does not know who I am. Does he know that I
have been a firefighter for the State Of
So, never again will I return to Terwilliger Hot Springs much to my hearts anguish. I have not paid the US Government $50 for not wasting fuel and driving to a town where the store was closed at 6:30 a.m. anyway. Be careful there! Buy the pass at the store, go with a friend, and women be careful - these are sad things to be saying - no natural place should require you to shell out cash, to carry a pass, to watch out for predators...
From: "Scott Land" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998
I was at Cougar the Sunday of the Oregon Country Fair. I live in
It had been 8 years since my last visit so I was uncertain as to what to expect. Joyfully the springs were as beautiful as ever, as clothing optional as ever, and the people as great as ever.
It is however now a fee use area. People should know that they have to purchase a $3 daily use ticket or a seasonal pass (forget the price). This lead to the amusing scene of Rangers waiting while us nudies traipsed over to our clothes to retrieve our passes. The Rangers were very professional and pretended not to notice our nudity. We in turn pretended not to notice their clothes.
A Great experience.
Date: Fri, 10 Jul 1998
A friend and I went there on July 4 and 5, 1998. It was as gorgeous and clean as the last three years I've been there and it remains, despite the following very serious problems, my second favorite hot spring (after Travertine in Bridgeport, CA).
On the way to the springs, we had to stop at a booth in the middle of the road a couple of miles off 126 and had to pay $3 apiece. The 2 Rangers gave us pieces of paper they said we had to carry with us at all times while at the spring or the parking area. There were only a handful of people at the springs and a few cars in the small parking area both days, which surprised me because the last three years both areas were crowded with 25 or so people. There was also a Ranger in the parking area checking passes. There are 8 pools now, otherwise it's the same.
On Sunday, we went back at about 9:30 a.m. and there was no booth. At the
parking area we noticed a sign that said the booth was supposed to be open at 9
a.m., but there were other places, including the Ranger Station (which was
I was fed up with this BS harassment & left the springs. We had a long
conversation with the Rangers back at the parking area. They said the fees were
to compensate for the loss of federal funds to maintain the trail &
springs, to combat drug & alcohol use, drunk driving, other crimes &
rowdy locals at & within a couple of miles of the springs. I complained
that they don't follow their own regulations re the hours of the booth
(supposedly from 9 to 2), they should simply sell the passes at the parking
area by a Ranger or a drop box & that if locals are causing most of the
problems, they should be arrested & given increasingly stiffer sentences.
They didn't cite us & we split, two very unhappy campers. My friend swore
to never go back to