Breitenbush Frequently Asked Questions

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These are the questions we often hear from guests. We’re happy to help clarify or to answer other questions, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, please email us or call Laurie at 206-250-8087.

For information about Pacific Northwest School of Massage classes or business other than the Breitenbush retreat, use the PNWSM main contact form.

Who Can Attend

Q. I’m a massage therapist. Can I bring friends and family who are not therapists?

A. Yes! We’d love to have them. Continuing education classes are for licensed massage therapists only. All other activities are open to therapists and non-therapists.

Q. Is it OK to bring kids?

A. Yes, we typically have quite a few young guests, ranging from babies to teenagers, and they love it. There’s a nice lawn for playing Frisbee, kicking a soccer ball and such in front of the lodge, with a swingset/playset. Breitenbush requires that children under 12 be accompanied at all times by a responsible adult. There are hazards, like areas where very hot water comes out of the ground. No childcare is provided.

Kids get discounted lodging. When you register them for the retreat, choose “Child Lodging” and select the right age range, number of nights and quantity of kids.

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Prices, Payment & Refunds

Q. Is the price per person, or is it for the whole cabin (or tent)?

A. It’s per person, and it includes lodging as well as meals, use of all the facilities and access to many events (see next question for details about what’s included). There is a 2-night minimum for each person.

For example:

  • If a cabin is listed as “from $280,” this means each adult pays $280 for a 2-night stay.

  • If you register 2 adults for 2 nights, the total is $560.

During checkout, where you’re asked for a quantity, you’re being asked for the number of people you are registering (not the number of cabins, platform tents or tent sites).

Kids get discounted lodging — see the “Child Lodging” option, listed in our store along with the cabins, platform tents, etc.

Q. What’s included in the price of lodging?

A. The price of lodging includes:

  • Your individual spot in your cabin, platform tent or camping site

  • Three delicious vegetarian meals a day, served in the lodge (starting with dinner on your first day and ending with lunch on your last day)

  • Round-the-clock access to the hydrotherapy facilities:

    • Two sets of soaking pools fed by natural hot springs — the three Meadow Pools and the four Spiral Tubs plus a cold plunge behind the lodge (may be closed briefly during meals for cleaning and refilling)

    • Sauna/steam hut

    • Breitenbush River

  • Yoga classes (typically held once or twice a day)

  • Party with music in the lodge on Saturday night

  • Bonfire on the flood plain on Sunday night

  • Use of other spaces throughout the grounds, such as the labyrinth, the Sanctuary (a quiet space, good for meditating or doing yoga or resting) and the library in the lodge

  • Unlimited hiking on forest trails accessible from the Breitenbush grounds

  • Any other special activities labeled “free” (typically something like a self-care mini-class for massage therapists)

What’s not included in the price:

Q. What is the refund policy?

A. One night’s lodging is non-refundable and non-transferrable. Remaining nights are non-refundable, but may be transferred to another guest attending the same year’s PNWSM Breitenbush retreat with 10 days’ notice prior to the event. It is the guest’s responsibility to find a replacement for himself or herself and the replacement must be approved by PNWSM. 

Deposits for classes are non-refundable and non-transferrable.  The balance due for class tuition is collected the day of the class, and is payable by cash, check, or money order only.

Q. How and when do I pay my balance?

A. If you registered for continuing education or activities, you paid only a deposit to register. Your balance is due at the start of class. Pay the instructor directly by cash or check. Credit cards are not accepted on site.

Q. What if I want to sign up for classes or activities after I arrive?

A. Guests who are already registered for the retreat may sign up for classes and activities after arrival, if space is available. Bring cash or checks — credit cards are not accepted on site.

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Facilities at Breitenbush

Q. What are the grounds and facilities like?

A. Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat & Conference Center is set in the woods, along the Breitenbush River. It has a main lodge (with large decks, classroom, dining room and library), two sets of soaking pools of differing temperatures (fed by natural hot springs), a sauna/steam hut, additional event spaces (Forest Shelter and River Yurt), spaces for personal quiet time (Sanctuary and Buddha’s Playhouse), rustic cabins (some with bathrooms), platform tents, tent camping sites, vehicle camping sites, men’s and women’s bathhouses, sweat lodge, labyrinth, gift shop, wading access to the river, and hiking trails.

The entire retreat center is off the grid, generating its own electricity from the river and heating the buildings geothermally with hot-water radiators. There are no cooking facilities for guests. There is no cell phone or Internet service.

Clothing is required everywhere on the grounds except the soaking areas (which includes the river) and the sauna/steam hut, where clothing is optional. In these areas, you may choose whichever option is most comfortable for you.

If you have questions about mobility/accessibility or if you will need to use or recharge any electrically powered medical equipment (such as a CPAP machine), please contact us before making your reservation so we can talk about a plan to meet your needs. Three cabins (and the lodge) have ramps for access. Other cabins as well as platform tents are accessed by stairs. Cabins with ramps are:


Q. What will be in my cabin/platform tent?

A. There are a couple of different sizes and styles of cabins.

All cabins have beds, typically two or three beds. Most have a combination of double beds and single beds. Some have double beds and bunk beds. (If you would like a particular configuration of beds, please email us or call Laurie at 206-250-8087 to talk about your circumstances, and we will accommodate your request if we can.) Dorm cabins have two sets of bunk beds. All beds have mattresses with only fitted sheets (you bring the rest of your bedding).

All cabins are heated by radiators. All cabins have electrical outlets and electric lighting, although there is not enough power for high-voltage items, like hairdryers or coffee pots. Most cabins also have a desk, a chair and shelves. Cabins do not have locks. Most cabins do not have plumbing (see next question).

Platform tents are large camping tents (adults can stand up inside), sitting on wooden platforms, with a tarp overhead. They have two foam pads (one per person).

There is no power supply at platform tents, meadow tent sites or personal vehicle camping sites. Generators are not permitted.

Q. Will my cabin have a bathroom?

A. The only cabins that have bathrooms are those called “Cabin with Sink & Toilet.” These cabins have a sink in the main room and a toilet in a separate small room (no shower, no bathtub). The other cabin types (“Cabin Without Plumbing” and “Dorm Cabin Without Plumbing”) do not have sinks or toilets. Showers (as well as toilets, sinks and a bathtub) are available in the men’s and women’s bathhouses. 

Q. If I’m not in a “Cabin With Sink & Toilet,” where do I use the bathroom & shower?

A. In the cabin area, there are two small bathrooms, for men and women. Each has a sink and toilet stalls. As you’re leaving the cabin & platform tent area, going toward the lodge, there are men’s and women’s bathhouses. These have showers, toilet stalls, sinks and a bathtub. In the lodge, there are men’s and women’s bathrooms with a sink and toilets. In the River Yurt, there’s a bathroom. There are also porta-potties around the grounds.

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What to Bring (or Not)

Q. What should I bring?

A. Please bring these items:

  • Clothing — Make sure it’s appropriate for the expected weather. It’s typically hot (often in the 80s) and dry in early to mid-July, although it is sometimes quite cold at night—bring layers. We could also get rain showers or thunderstorms. Check the forecast before you leave home. Swimsuits are optional in soaking areas (nudity is not permitted anywhere else on the grounds). Most people do not wear swimsuits; do what is comfortable for you. For watsu (aquatic bodywork) sessions, swimsuits are required.

  • Bedding and pillow — See next question for more detail.

  • Towels — Since most guests spend a good amount of time in and out of the hot springs and the river, we suggest you bring two or three towels (better chance of having one dry towel when you want one). Towels can be rented from Breitenbush during office hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

  • Personal toiletries — The bathrooms and showers are stocked with soap (typically Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap). If you would like anything else (shampoo, conditioner, different soap), bring it. Breitenbush requests biodegradable products only.

  • Insect repellent — Mosquitoes and such may come out in the evening. Bugs are not usually a problem during the day.

  • Sunscreen — It may be intensely sunny. (There are many places to relax in the shade if you want.)

  • Low-intensity flashlight or headlamp — There’s very little artificial light outdoors on the grounds at night. The walking paths are dirt/gravel and may be a little uneven in places.

  • Non-glass water bottle (not bottled water) — The water from all the bathroom faucets is potable. There’s also a drinking fountain in the lodge and a spigot on the lodge deck by the front door where you can refill.

  • Walking shoes — Something suitable for dirt/gravel paths. Many people like to have flip-flops or Crocs-type clogs for soaking areas and showers.

  • Snacks, if you want for between meals — Nonperishables can be kept in your cabin or tent in critter-proof containers (critter = chipmunk, mouse, etc.). Perishables can be kept in the refrigerator in the dining room; meat is not allowed in the refrigerator.

  • Clock, if you want one — There are none in the cabins.

  • Caffeinated beverages, if you want them — Hot water is available in the dining room for coffee and tea. Paper filters and plastic cones for coffee are available in the dining room. (Bring cream, if you want it, to keep in the frig.)

  • Musical instruments — for the Sunday-night bonfire, if you want.

  • Cash and/or checks — if you have CE balances due or you might want to sign up for classes or activities on site. Credit cards are not accepted.

Q. Do I need to bring bedding?

A. Yes. If you are in a cabin (which has beds) or a platform tent (which has foam pads on the floor) bring a top sheet (bottom sheet is provided) and a blanket (it can get quite cool at night, even in July) or a sleeping bag. Bring a pillow & pillowcase.

  • Bring single sheets if you registered for a dorm cabin or platform tent.

  • Bring double sheets if you registered for any other type of cabin. This way you’ll be safe: Your lodging may have a combination of double and single beds.

  • If you are in “meadow tent,” you bring your own tent as well as whatever bedding you like.

If reserved in advance by July 10, bedding can be rented from Breitenbush. Availability is limited. The price is $21/individual or $28/couple per stay. Includes: sheets, blanket, pillow, pillowcase and towel. Reserve your rental bedding.

Q. Is there anything I should NOT bring?

A. Please do not bring:

  • Pets

  • Alcohol or recreational drugs

  • Candles, incense, camp stoves or other burnables or fire sources

  • Electric appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, coffee makers, etc.) or generators

  • Glass containers

  • Valuables (cabins have no locks)

  • Perfume or other scented items

  • Firearms

Q. I reserved a meadow tent. Will a tent be provided for me?

A. No. “Meadow tent” means you have a designated campsite in the meadow. Bring your own tent. And whatever bedding and supplies you like. There is no power supply in the camping area.

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Meals & Food

Q. What meals are included?

A. The price of lodging includes three plentiful, mostly organic, vegetarian meals a day with herb tea, served in the lodge — starting with dinner on your first day and ending with lunch on your last day.

Q. When are meals?

A. The day at Breitenbush flows around the three meals. Bells signal the time of the next meal. The first bell sounds 15 minutes before the meal (a half-hour before breakfast for those who sleep in). The second bell rings at the beginning of the meal.

  • Breakfast is 8-9 a.m.

  • Lunch is 1-2 p.m.

  • Dinner is 6-7 p.m. (till 7:30 on Fridays).

Your first meal is dinner on your first day. Your last meal is lunch on your last day.

If you would like a sack lunch to take with you on a hike, order it from the kitchen the day before.

Q. What’s the food like?

A. Meals are served buffet style, and the food is always vegetarian, mostly organic, plentiful and filling. The Breitenbush staff knows that our group tends to favor protein-rich choices.

  • A typical breakfast selection might be miso soup, oatmeal or frittata, sliced fruit, and yogurt with optional toppings (granola, dried cranberries, etc.) or dry cereal with milk. 

  • Lunch and dinner always include salad bar along with a main dish, such as lasagna or hearty soup with bread.

  • Herbal tea (usually hot options and a cold option) as well as water are available to drink. Hot water is also available for you to make your own drinks. Caffeinated beverages are not provided; you can bring your own. (Paper filters and plastic cones for coffee are available in the dining room. Bring cream, if you want it.)

  • No snacks are served between meals, although some treats are available for sale in the gift shop. We recommend you bring your own favorite snacks.

  • Nonperishables can be kept in your cabin in critter-proof containers (critter = chipmunk, mouse, etc.) Perishables (except meat) can be kept in the refrigerator in the dining room. 

  • Meat and fish are not allowed in the refrigerator (nor are they allowed in the dining room or on the deck).

Q. How do I arrange gluten-free/egg-free/dairy-free/other special meals?

A. We automatically arrange for a percentage of the food items at each meal to be a "special diet" option to cover our guests’ needs. (If the “regular diet” option works for you, we ask you to take that food, leaving the “special diet” items for guests who need them.)

"Special diet" is gluten-free, egg-free and dairy-free but may contain trace amounts of gluten. Breitenbush says: "This is the extent of our ability to meet our guests’ dietary restrictions."

Also, please be aware that Breitenbush advises: "In addition to the three ingredients above, we routinely cook with soy, corn, nuts, mushrooms, nightshades, sugar, yeast, garlic and onion in our kitchen.  If you have a very strong sensitivity to any of these allergens, you can check the ingredients for each meal listed in a folder in the dining room. However, if you have strong sensitivities do not rely on this list and only consume foods that you are certain have no allergens. To supplement your meals during your stay, feel free to bring your own food."    

Q. Can I bring my own food?

Yes. If you would like any particular food items on hand for your personal use:

  • You can keep nonperishables in your cabin in critter-proof containers (we’re talking about little critters, like chipmunks and mice, not bears).

  • You can keep perishables, except meat or fish, in the refrigerator in the dining room. Space is limited. Label your items with your name and date of departure. Take your items with you when you leave.

  • You can bring a cooler to keep in your cabin or tent. There is a freezer in the lodge lobby to refreeze your ice. (The freezer is not for food storage.)

  • Breitenbush is a vegetarian retreat center. Meat and fish are not allowed in the refrigerator or dining room or on the deck. The staff wishes to remind us that many vegetarians count on knowing that none of the cookware and serving ware has been used with meat, so please bring your own utensils and plates as needed for eating meat. 

Q. Can I cook my own food? Can I use a camp stove or build a cooking fire?

A. No. There are no facilities for guests to do their own cooking. Do not bring a camp stove or any other cooking device. Fires are not allowed anywhere on the grounds (except for our scheduled bonfire on Sunday night). Fire danger is significant in the Breitenbush area all summer, and fire prevention is essential. Do not bring burnables of any kind. (Smoking is allowed only in the designated smoking area near the parking lot.)

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Check-in & Check-out

Q. What’s the earliest time I can arrive?

A. You can arrive at or after the official check-in time on your first day.

  • Check-in on Friday is at 3:30 p.m. or later. Lodging will be ready for move-in at 4 p.m. (Do not move in sooner; the staff will be completing cleaning.)

  • Check-in on Saturday is at 2 p.m. or later. Lodging will be ready for move-in at 2 p.m.

Do not arrive before check-in time on your first day. If there is an extraordinary or emergency circumstance, email us or call Laurie at 206-250-8087 to talk about your particular circumstances — in advance of the retreat. (Do not simply show up early. If you do, you will be turned back at the gate.)

  • To attend a Saturday-morning CE class that starts at 9 a.m., you must register for Friday lodging. (New guests may not arrive on site on Saturday morning in order to attend a morning class.) 

  • To attend a Saturday-afternoon CE class that starts at 1 p.m., your first night can be either Friday or Saturday. If it's Saturday, you must pre-arrange with us to arrive on site shortly before 2 p.m. (The first meal included with your lodging is dinner that night, not lunch.) 

Q. How do I check in?

A. Drive to the parking lot.

On Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., Brian and/or Laurie will be at a table in the parking lot under an awning; stop there to check in. If you arrive later, park at the Breitenbush office, which is on the right as you enter the parking lot, and go inside. 

Give your name. We’ll confirm your cabin or tent number and give you a map of the grounds. 

Park your car in the lot (no vehicles in the cabin or tent areas), get a cart from the cart house, load the cart with your belongings, head to your cabin or tent, unload, return the cart immediately for other guests to use, and begin enjoying your retreat!

Late arrivals: If you arrive after the parking-lot office closes, find your name and cabin or tent number on the cabin chart posted on the door of the office. Go ahead and get settled into your spot.

Q. What’s the latest time I can leave?

A. It depends on which day you are leaving.

  • If you are leaving on Sunday, leave before dinner. Dinner on your last day is not included. If you want to stay for dinner, we can arrange this for you for an extra meal charge. This must be arranged in advance of the retreat, not once you are on site. Please email us at or call Laurie at 206-250-8087.

  • If you are leaving on Monday, by 1 p.m. your belongings must be out of your cabin, platform tent or meadow tent site. (This means before you go to lunch.) Breitenbush charges $20 per guest who stays in a cabin or tent site beyond 1 p.m. You can stay on the grounds until 3 p.m. (Do not stay later.)

Q. How do I check out?

A. You do not need to let anyone know when you’re leaving. (However, if you must leave a day early for some reason, we appreciate you letting Brian or Laurie know.  We’ll both be at the retreat all weekend, and you can always find one or both of us at the lodge at mealtimes.) 

Get a cart from the cart house, load the cart with your belongings, take your belongings to your vehicle, and return the cart immediately for other guests to use. (Do not leave your cart parked somewhere, stacked with your belongings.)

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Contact, Directions & Rideshare

Q. Who can I contact with questions about the retreat?

A. Before the retreat, email Brian and Laurie or call Laurie at 206-250-8087. (For questions unrelated to the retreat, use our main contact form.)

  • The last time Brian will be available for questions is on Wednesday evening before the retreat.

  • The last time Laurie will be available for questions is on Thursday evening before the retreat.

After that, we’ll be on the road to Breitenbush and out of phone/email contact.

Brian and Laurie will be at the retreat from Friday afternoon through Monday afternoon. A reliable place and time to track us down is at the lodge at mealtimes.

Q. How can someone reach me (or vice versa) while I’m at the retreat?

A. They can’t, unless it is an emergency. There is no cell phone reception and no Internet service at Breitenbush. There is no public phone. Phones are available for emergencies only. If someone needs to reach you due to an emergency, they can call the Breitenbush office at (503) 854-3320; the office is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. If you need to be in contact by cell phone, you can most likely get reception in Detroit, Oregon, about 12 miles away.

Q. How do I drive to Breitenbush? (print PDF version)

A. Please check current road conditions before you set out in case your route is affected by construction, wildfires or other factors.

The Breitenbush staff advises: Do NOT follow Mapquest, Google Maps, or GPS directions! They are not always reliable.

Breitenbush directions map.gif

Main route from Western Washington, Oregon and California: 

Take I-5 to Salem. Take exit 253, and head east toward Detroit Lake and Bend on Hwy 22. After crossing the Detroit bridge, turn left onto Hwy 46 at the only gas station in Detroit, and head north. Drive about 10 miles; just past Cleator Bend Campground, take a right onto the single-lane Cleator Bend Bridge. The road is gravel after the bridge and has three forks in its 1.5 miles. Take a left at every fork to reach the parking lot.

Alternate route (the “back way”) from Washington: 

We highly recommend this route, as I-5 traffic on the south side of Portland can get quite congested. Take I-5 toward Portland. Before you reach the Washington/Oregon border, take exit 7, and head south on I-205. After entering Oregon, take exit 12A toward Damascus, via east SR-212 & SR-224, and follow signs to Estacada. Stay in the right lane. In about 3 miles, when SR-212 and SR-224 separate, take east SR-224 to Carver/Estacada, and head to Estacada.

* If you need gas, fill up in Estacada. There are no services and no cell phone reception from Estacada to Detroit. *

Continue on SR-224 for about 59 miles, following signs toward Detroit. (SR-224 is also known as Forest Service Road #26 and #46.) Pass the sign for Breitenbush Campground, and continue for about 0.7 miles. Coming up quickly around a turn, take a sharp left onto the Cleator Bend Bridge. The road is gravel after the bridge and has three forks in its 1.5 miles. Take a left at every fork to reach the parking lot.

Print a PDF version of these directions & map

Q. How can I arrange a rideshare?

A. There are many great reasons to ride share, from reducing greenhouse gasses and saving money to meeting new people. Breitenbush has a ride-share website, intended for Breitenbush guests and staff. Email us, and we’ll send you the link and login information.

Q. How do I fly in from another state?

The closest major airport is Portland, about 2.5 hours away by car. The Salem airport is closer, about 1 hour away, but it may be less convenient to get flights in and out of there. To get from the airport to Breitenbush, you will need to rent a car — or you will need to arrange your own rideshare in advance (see the question above this one) with someone who is traveling from (or through) Portland or Salem.

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