12 Best Hot Springs in California

California, known for its diverse landscapes and natural wonders, also boasts an impressive collection of hot springs. These geothermal gems offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in soothing, mineral-rich waters while surrounded by the beauty of the Golden State. We’ve researched and curated a list of the best hot springs in California that you absolutely must explore.

Let’s embark on a journey to discover some of California’s finest hot springs. Each of these springs offers a unique experience, with varying temperatures, settings, and activities to enjoy. Let’s dive in:

1. Deep Creek Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @hellocalifornia

Deep Creek Hot Springs, located in the San Bernardino National Forest, offers a picturesque escape. Nestled along the Pacific Crest Trail, the springs are a series of natural pools overlooking the Mojave Desert. With temperatures ranging from 100 to 105°F, this hot spring is ideal for relaxation and stunning views.

  • Location: San Bernardino National Forest, California
  • Temperature: 100-105°F
  • Things to do: Enjoy the natural pools, hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, and soak in breathtaking desert landscapes.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but early mornings and weekdays are less crowded.
  • Cost: A small access fee required.

2. Travertine Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @globe.trotter.travel

Travertine Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierra region offer a rustic and rejuvenating experience. These springs are renowned for their beautifully constructed rock tubs, providing a unique blend of comfort and natural beauty. With temperatures around 100-105°F, you can unwind while gazing at the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

  • Location: Bridgeport, California
  • Temperature: 100-105°F
  • Things to do: Relax in the rock tubs, take in scenic mountain views, and stargaze in the clear Eastern Sierra skies.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Cost: Free

3. Mono Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @coco5_O

Nestled in the Sierra National Forest, Mono Hot Springs is a remote gem with a range of natural spring pools. The varying temperatures of these pools make them perfect for everyone, from those seeking relaxation to those wanting a warmer soak. Surrounded by lush forests and the South Fork of the San Joaquin River, it’s a tranquil haven.

  • Location: Sierra National Forest, California
  • Temperature: Varies (ranging from hot to cooler pools)
  • Things to do: Soak in the pools, hike the nearby trails, and enjoy the serene mountain environment.
  • Best time to visit: Summer and early fall
  • Cost: A resort fee applies for pool access.

4. Willett Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @lahikes

Willett Hot Springs offers a backcountry adventure in the Los Padres National Forest. Accessible via a hike along the Sespe Creek Trail, these springs are a hidden treasure in Southern California. The temperature of the main pool hovers around 100-105°F, providing a serene and remote escape.

  • Location: Los Padres National Forest, California
  • Temperature: 100-105°F
  • Things to do: Hike along Sespe Creek Trail, enjoy a secluded soak, and relish the wilderness.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but be prepared for a challenging hike.
  • Cost: Free

5. Harbin Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @visitlakecountyca

Harbin Hot Springs, nestled in the Napa Valley, offers a serene and unique retreat. Known for its clothing-optional policy, these springs have a range of pools and tubs with temperatures between 95-110°F. The tranquil surroundings add to the overall relaxation experience.

  • Location: Middletown, California
  • Temperature: 95-110°F
  • Things to do: Explore the beautifully landscaped pools, take yoga classes, and unwind in a clothing-optional environment.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but check for seasonal availability.
  • Cost: A day-use fee is required.

6. Orr Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @avalancheranch

Orr Hot Springs is a peaceful and rustic destination located in the rolling hills of Mendocino County. These springs feature temperature-regulated soaking tubs ranging from 105-107°F. The tranquil environment and beautiful gardens make it an ideal spot for relaxation.

  • Location: Ukiah, California
  • Temperature: 105-107°F
  • Things to do: Relax in temperature-controlled soaking tubs, explore the beautiful gardens, and enjoy a calming escape.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round
  • Cost: By reservation only.

7. Glen Ivy Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @glenivy_spa

Glen Ivy Hot Springs, situated in the Temescal Valley, provides a luxurious and therapeutic hot spring experience. With various pools, including a red clay mud bath, saline pool, and hot and cold plunges, you can enjoy temperatures ranging from 92-104°F.

  • Location: Temescal Valley, California
  • Temperature: 92-104°F
  • Things to do: Experience a variety of pools, mud baths, spa treatments, and relaxation in a beautifully landscaped setting.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but reservations are recommended for weekends.
  • Cost: Day passes and spa services available for a fee.

8. Esalen Hot Springs


Photo Courtesy: @mariejoelleparent

Esalen Hot Springs, located on the scenic Big Sur coast, is known for its stunning oceanfront pools. With temperatures around 100-104°F, these springs offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Access to the hot springs is primarily through workshops, overnight stays, or limited day-use reservations.

  • Location: Big Sur, California
  • Temperature: 100-104°F
  • Things to do: Soak in the oceanfront pools, participate in workshops, and enjoy the serene coastal environment.
  • Best time to visit: By reservation or workshop attendance.
  • Cost: Fees vary based on reservations and workshops.

9. Saline Valley Warm Springs


Photo Courtesy: @campoutwest

Saline Valley Warm Springs, located in Death Valley National Park, offers a remote and unique experience. The hot springs are in the high desert, with temperatures around 100-105°F. The springs provide stunning stargazing opportunities due to their isolated location.

  • Location: Death Valley National Park, California
  • Temperature: 100-105°F
  • Things to do: Enjoy the natural pools, experience excellent stargazing, and explore the surrounding desert landscape.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but be prepared for the remote location.
  • Cost: Free

10. Tassajara Zen Mountain Center


Photo Courtesy: @littlemissychronicles

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, in the Los Padres National Forest, is known for its Zen Buddhism and natural hot springs. The springs feature temperature-controlled tubs with temperatures around 108-112°F. This location offers a peaceful and meditative environment.

  • Location: Los Padres National Forest, California
  • Temperature: 108-112°F
  • Things to do: Soak in the temperature-controlled tubs, experience Zen meditation, and enjoy the tranquility of the center.
  • Best time to visit: By reservation during their open season (usually spring to fall).
  • Cost: Costs vary, and reservations are typically required.

11. Warner Springs Ranch


Photo Courtesy: @warnerspringsranch

Warner Springs Ranch, located in San Diego County, is known for its rich history and revitalizing mineral waters. The resort offers several pools and tubs with temperatures ranging from 98-104°F, surrounded by scenic landscapes.

  • Location: San Diego County, California
  • Temperature: 98-104°F
  • Things to do: Relax in the pools and tubs, explore the resort’s amenities, and enjoy the historical setting.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but check for resort availability and hours.
  • Cost: Costs vary based on amenities and services. Day use fees may apply.

12. Agua Caliente County Park


Photo Courtesy: @aguacalienteindians

Agua Caliente County Park, situated in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, offers hot springs in a family-friendly setting. The pools maintain temperatures around 102-105°F, making it an excellent destination for a day trip or camping.

  • Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
  • Temperature: 102-105°F
  • Things to do: Enjoy the hot spring pools, explore the state park, and camp in the desert environment.
  • Best time to visit: Year-round, but be prepared for desert conditions.
  • Cost: Day use fees apply, and additional camping fees may apply for overnight stays.

Conclusion
California’s hot springs offer a diverse range of experiences, from backcountry adventures to luxurious escapes. These geothermal wonders provide relaxation, healing, and a connection with nature. Before you visit, be sure to consider factors like temperature, health concerns, and reservation requirements to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. California’s hot springs promise a holistic approach to well-being, surrounded by the state’s stunning landscapes and serene environments. Whether you’re seeking relief for aching muscles, skin treatments, or simply a tranquil escape, California’s hot springs have something to offer every traveler. Enjoy your journey through the diverse geothermal treasures of the Golden State.

Hot Spring Etiquette: Tips for a Respectful Soak

Visiting hot springs can be a deeply relaxing and rejuvenating experience, but it’s important to do so with respect for the environment, other visitors, and the cultural significance of these natural wonders. To ensure a harmonious and enjoyable hot spring experience, here are some essential hot spring etiquette guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Respect the Rules: Each hot spring location may have specific rules and regulations. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with these rules and adhere to them. Rules may include clothing-optional policies, quiet hours, and bans on alcohol or glass containers.
  1. Leave No Trace: The beauty of hot springs often lies in their pristine natural settings. Do not bring or use soap, shampoos, or any other chemicals in the water, as these can harm the environment. Follow designated paths, stay on established trails, and avoid trampling on sensitive vegetation.
  1. Quiet Enjoyment: Hot springs are places of relaxation and serenity. Keep noise levels to a minimum to ensure that other visitors can enjoy the tranquility. Avoid loud music, conversations, or other disturbances.
  1. Clothing Etiquette: Some hot springs have clothing-optional policies, while others require swimsuits. Always respect the designated dress code of the particular hot spring you are visiting. If it’s a clothing-optional location, be comfortable with the choice that others may make regarding clothing.
  1. Alcohol and Drugs: Many hot springs prohibit alcohol or drugs. Consumption of these substances can be dangerous when combined with the hot water, and they may lead to disruptive behavior. Respect the rules and refrain from using such substances during your visit.
  1. Water Conservation: In areas where water is limited, be mindful of excessive water usage. Do not waste or contaminate the hot spring water. Remember that these waters are valuable natural resources.
  1. Health and Hygiene: Ensure you are in good health and not experiencing any contagious conditions before visiting a hot spring. This helps protect other visitors from potential illness. It’s also a good idea to shower before entering the hot spring.
  1. Limit Your Stay: To allow others the opportunity to enjoy the hot spring, be mindful of how long you soak. Extended stays can prevent other visitors from experiencing the hot spring. If the hot spring is crowded, consider limiting your soak to a reasonable duration.
  1. Crowded Times: If you prefer a more private soak, consider visiting during off-peak times. Early mornings and weekdays are typically less busy than weekends and evenings. Be respectful of the space and privacy of others.
  1. Photography and Technology: Refrain from taking photos or using electronic devices in and around the hot spring. These actions can disturb the natural ambiance and the privacy of other visitors.
  1. Local Communities: When visiting hot springs in or near local communities, be mindful of the local culture and respect private property. Follow parking and access guidelines to avoid inconveniencing residents.
  2. Safety First: Be cautious when entering hot springs, as water temperatures can vary. Test the water with your hand or foot before fully immersing yourself. Avoid submerging your head for extended periods, as water temperatures can fluctuate and pose risks.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Exploring Hot Springs in California

Hot springs in California offer a unique and rejuvenating experience, but it’s common to have questions before your visit. Here, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about enjoying these natural wonders:

Are hot springs open year-round?

Most hot springs in California are open year-round. However, accessibility may be affected by weather conditions, and some may have seasonal variations in water levels.

Can I bring my children to hot springs?

It depends on the specific hot spring. Some hot springs are family-friendly and suitable for children, while others may have age restrictions. Always check the rules of the hot spring you plan to visit.

Do hot springs have changing facilities and restrooms?

Facilities vary by location. Some hot springs have changing rooms and restrooms, while others may be more rustic with minimal amenities. Be prepared by checking in advance.

What should I wear when visiting hot springs?

The dress code can vary. Some hot springs require swimsuits, while others have clothing-optional policies. Research the specific hot spring’s policy and adhere to it.

Are pets allowed at hot springs?

Pets are generally not allowed at hot springs due to hygiene and environmental considerations. Check the rules of the hot spring for any exceptions.

Can I camp near hot springs?

Some hot springs have nearby campgrounds, while others prohibit camping in the immediate vicinity. Research camping options and whether permits are required.

Is alcohol allowed at hot springs?

Many hot springs have policies against alcohol to ensure safety and a peaceful atmosphere. Always respect the rules and regulations of the hot spring.

Are hot springs safe for people with health conditions?

Hot springs can affect individuals with certain health conditions. People with heart problems, respiratory issues, skin sensitivities, or pregnant individuals should consult with a medical professional before visiting. Always listen to your body and avoid overheating.

Are there natural hazards to be aware of at hot springs?

While hot springs are generally safe, natural hazards like uneven terrain, slippery rocks, and changing water temperatures can pose risks. Use caution when entering and exiting the springs.

How crowded are hot springs, and when is the best time to visit?

Crowds can vary greatly depending on the hot spring and the time of day or year. To avoid crowds, consider visiting during off-peak times, such as early mornings or weekdays.

Are there hot springs that require reservations or have admission fees?

Some hot springs, especially those associated with resorts or privately managed locations, may require reservations and charge admission fees. Always check in advance.

How can I contribute to preserving hot springs and their surroundings?

Contribute to the preservation of hot springs by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, respecting local communities, and following all rules and regulations.

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