Hot Springs History and Geology

History of the Land and Mineral Springs

The Indigenous people:

The Mineral Springs at Summer Lake have been flowing for thousands of years, traveling up a natural fault to the surface from nearly a mile beneath the earth, unknown until hundreds of feet of lake water receded, revealing the hot springs.  The first inhabitants lived in this big lake basin 14,000 yrs ago.  Archeologists from the University of Oregon recently made international news when they discovered human DNA in a local cave. This finding is considered to be the oldest record of humans in North and South America and shows the rich history this area provides.

Summer Lake was a migratory place where hunting, fishing and harvesting a wild grain provided an abundance of resources for all to share.  Indigenous people lived amongst camel and mammoths in a lush surrounding, rather than the desert environment that exists today. 

The land was called Medicine Springs by natives and became common ground, an agreed upon place of peace between tribes.  The healing waters continue to provide a sense of oneness with the earth and an opening up, healing and letting go, as our ancestors have experienced for thousands of years. 

The Explorers:

In 1843, John Freemont, while mapping the region, broke out of the timbered land at the top of Winter Ridge and looked down upon this beautiful lake, naming it Summer Lake.  He was quoted as saying “the hot springs was some of the best water he had ever come across.”  His team stayed for several days, taking in the healing benefits of the hot springs before continuing on the rest of their journey. In years past, settlers reported taking wagons of people out to the pool house, propounding healing attributes from the minerals in the water.

Past History:

There have been numerous owners of the land since the early 1900’s. In 1958 Jeff and Glenda McDaniel bought the land and made many improvements, such as adding the barns, houses and RV sites.  They ran a small family RV park at the springs for years and then their son took over around 1985. The current owner, Duane Graham, purchased Summer Lake Hot Springs in 1997.  His intention then, as it is today, was to create a small eco-friendly resort by building structures with geothermally heated floors, group areas for workshops, massage/healing arts and ultimately a restaurant with locally grown food.

The Bathhouse:

The timber frame and corrugated metal structure was built in 1928 surrounding the large hot mineral pool, providing year round comfort for soaking and healing.  The 106 - 113 degree spring fills the pool through a 4-inch pipe, which many find therapeutic to stand underneath, allowing the hot mineral water to fall upon necks and shoulders, melting away tension for a deep therapeutic healing. 

The Journey of the Water


Traveling from an aquifer nearly one mile below the surface, fresh water is heated by volcanic conditions and through pressure the now hot water is forced upward along the Slide Mountain fault line.  On its journey the water absorbs various minerals before it comes out of the ground at 106 to 113 degrees. This water is then channeled to the large soaking pool, various outdoor rock pools and geothermal floor heating.  It is high in silica and you will notice a silky and soft feeling on your skin soon upon entering in the water. 


Mineral Content of the Water (ppm):

Boran 1.0
Borate 1.0
Calcium 1.4
Chloride 285
Flouride 2.2
Magnesium .4
Potassium 374
Silica 96.
Sodium 399
Sulfate 111

Summer Lake is one of the most remarkable sacred sites and, as our ancestors did, we come together to merge with nature in ways not found many places around the world. It is a place of extreme beauty and silence, a place where body and mind rediscover a connection and common ground between the Water, Earth and Sky.

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