Mike and Tamarah Rysavy met at Bagby Hot Springs in 2001. Both had an adventurous spirit and a love for hot springs. After volunteering for several years at Bagby Hot Springs and visiting more than 150 Hot Springs in the Northwest, they came across the chance to purchase their own property with hot springs. In 2013 they purchased Grande Hot Springs Resort (formerly Eagles Hot Lake RV Resort).
Union County approved the development of the Hot Lake Recreational Vehicle Resort in 1985 as part of a redevelopment plan for the Hot Lake property. Plans included the RV Resort, an 18 hole Golf Course, and a Geothermal Water Park. Although there were no plans to restore the dilapidated Hotel and the Golf Course and Water Park never got off the ground, the RV Resort was built in 1988.
By the mid-1990’s the Hot Lake property was once again near bankruptcy & foreclosure. In 1994 the Hot Lake property was split into several parcels. Since that time the RV Resort has had different owners from the other neighboring Hot Lake properties.
The RV Resort has water rights to the hot springs water from Hot Lake and it is used to heat all the buildings on the property, as well as all the domestic water for showers, and for the Mineral Soaking Pools. Soaking in the 170 degree hot springs water requires it be mixed with our 77 degree geothermal mineral well water to reach the perfect soaking temperature!
The famous 1906 brick hotel was once called the “Mayo Clinic of the West” and attracted visitors and patients from around the world. Hot Lake’s heyday lasted into the mid-1930s until a devastating fire in 1934 destroyed all wooden structures, but the 1906 brick building survived.
On May 7, 1934, a fire destroyed the majority of the building’s right side, completely demolishing the wooden structures of the hotel, but the brick portion of the building survived. The building had contained nearly 300 rooms and dining areas for over 1,000 guests prior to the fire. From then on, business at the hotel declined, and eventually, the hospital area on the third floor was the only functioning business.
A flight school and nurse’s training center was established at the hotel during World War II, and U.S. Route 30 was later built, with Oregon Route 203 branching off of it and running right by the front of the hotel grounds. The attraction of the complex declined in later years, and its use as a resort came to a halt in 1953 when it was converted solely to a nursing home. By 1975, ownership of the building had changed, and a short-lived restaurant and nightclub was opened, which only ran for two years. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Lyle Griffith purchased the property and used one corner of the hotel as a bath house; within a few years the bath house closed down, and the hotel was abandoned, falling prey to local vandals and the elements.
The building sat abandoned and decrepit for over fifteen years. In 2003, the building, which was literally falling apart, was purchased from Charles and Louise Rhea by David Manuel. Restoration began soon after; the building was greatly dilapidated, with all 368 windows broken and/or missing, and a sparsely remaining roof. After two years of construction, it was opened to the public for tours in 2005, while individual guest rooms were still being sponsored and renovated. In 2008, the west wing of the building collapsed. In 2010, the building functioned as a bed and breakfast, with dozens of restored rooms, a spa, restaurant, bronze foundry, and a museum. By 2019 the harsh Eastern Oregon elements had begun to undo years of hard work by the Manuel family.
The owners of Grande Hot Springs RV Resort next door to Hot Lake Springs took over management in Spring 2020. Restoration is underway and will include many historic preservation projects, including the Grand Entry Porch, Veranda, Balustrade, and Historic Spring House. Current amenities include a new hot springs soaking area, updated rooms, and beer, wine, and cider sales on-site. A 2nd run movie theater with food/beer service, multiple pubs, conference space, restaurant, concert venue, and spa are currently in the works.
Visit HotLakeLodge.com for more details! Books on the history of the Hot Lake Hotel are available in our office from author Dick Roth.
Located at the foot of Craig Mountain in the Grande Ronde Valley, Grande Hot Springs Resort is bordered by legendary Hot Lake. More than 2 million gallons of 186 degree water flow from the ground daily.
The hot springs themselves rest at the foot of a large bluff, and were often used by Native Americans or it’s medicinal powers before settlement and colonization occurred in the area; the lake was named “Ea-Kesh-Pa” by the Nez Perce. Later it became a popular stop for weary travelers on the Oregon Trail.