Sunday, October 5, 2014

Crane, Oregon: Crystal Crane Hot Springs

We'd never heard of Crane, Oregon, until we started looking for someplace to camp east of Bend.  Crystal Crane Hot Springs -- 25 miles south of Burns, 3 miles north of Crane, and in Oregon's southeastern corner -- fit the mileage, so we booked a spot for two nights.

Their web site made it sound and look cool, but we had no idea what it would really be like other than it was probably small and definitely out in the middle of nowhere.

Turns out we were right on both those counts. It was also charming with a handful of full hook up RV spots, a lot of dry camping spaces, some small cabins, a few private hot tubs, plus its centerpiece: a good-sized pond heated by hot springs, .

We're not talking fancy, although I read on line that you can arrange for a massage (we weren't offered that service; I'm not sure if massages are still available or we just don't look like massage types.)  Instead, we're talking hot water coming out of plastic pipes into a pond.  Unfortunately, there is a boarded-up, beat-up-small-motel-looking place near the office, and our site's view included a storage yard.  But for the most part it's rustic rather than junky.

During our weekend at Crystal Crane, we saw couples with kids, singles, guys who looked like hunters, people just passing through and a few folks on obvious romantic getaways.  We met a woman whose husband had dropped her off while he went motorcycling; she told us she was reading, soaking, napping and having a great time. That's what we did too (minus the nap but adding TV football watching) with the same result.  
Sunrise view of our campsite, which was on a small hill overlooking the heated pond and the dry camp area.  The rest of the full hook up sites were in a row off the gravel entrance road.  We think we lucked out on the spot.  Cost for full hook-ups:  $25 a night with a two night minimum, plus $3 a night for Cooper.
Day time view of our campsite from a different angle.  Few dry campers were here, so we almost had our area to ourselves. This would be a great place to do something contemplative, like write a book.
The heated pond.  Per the campground, the water contains calcium, sodium, magnesium, silica, iron, and potassium, which is absorbed into the skin during a soak and good for you.  I don't know about that, but sitting in it is pretty nice. I took two early morning dips; Jim took one.
I climbed the ladder on the back of our rig to take this shot of the heated pond and the tiny, cedar-covered cabins that rent for $54 a night.  You can also see a tee pee that has a private hot tub and rents for $55.  We peaked inside and it looks like it's BYO air mattress and sleeping bag.
Jim and the beautiful desolation near Crystal Crane Hot Springs.
After soaking in the "hot pond" and watching the first half of the Ohio State-Maryland game, we decided to visit the nearby town of Crane.  When we got back from the tour, the fourth quarter of the same football game had just started.  In other words, Crane is very small.
View of Crane, Oregon, from an adjoining road. According to the website, Crane's heyday was the early 1900s when the railroad came through.  Back then, Crane had "five restaurants, four hotels, two general merchandise stores, a dance hall, a newspaper, a bank and a movie theater." But a series of fires -- the last in 1938 -- devastated the town.  Today, says the website, there is post office, service station, cafe, tavern, and a local realtor. We saw signs of all of those except the gas station. We also saw small homes, several churches, a rodeo corral, horses, cattle, and farm equipment.
A very cool thing about Crane is its high school, which serves a 7,500 square mile district and includes dorms for kids who live a minimum of 20 miles away.  The school's 100 students come from as far away as 150 miles. 

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