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Cougar Hot Springs

When dreary clouds and drizzling rain bring shivers to your spine, it's not a time to bundle up and wait for next spring. Those with adventurous bones head for the woods and settle themselves into a sizzling-hot geothermal spring.

This time of year, it's best to choose a location that is least likely to leave you trapped by unexpected wintry weather.

Cougar Hot Springs, officially known as Terwilliger, could be the best choice for those living on the west side of the Cascades. Steaming at an altitude of 1,800 feet, the likelihood of getting snowed-in at these popular hot springs is very low.

Operated by the U.S. Forest Service through a private contractor and watched over by the Friends of the Cougar Spring, Cougar is an area where you can feel safe. Fees apply and rules of conduct are strictly enforced. The uninitiated should be aware that most people choose to enjoy these hot springs in the nude.

Open year-round, Cougar Hot Springs usually maintains a steady 102 to 104 degrees throughout most of the winter. Because of its natural beauty and accessibility, it's considered one of Oregon's best hot springs.

For daily updates on water conditions and driving directions, visit the Friends of Cougar Web site at www.friendsofcougar.com; or the Willamette National Forest, www.fs.fed.us/r6/willamette/recreation/tripplanning/dayuse/terwilliger_hot_springs.html.

Cougar Hot Springs