California is a state blessed with amazing soakable hot springs. There are various regions around this long state that feature these natural mineral waters. Some offer resort experiences, such as a spa, or even dining and hotel accommodations, while others are much more primitive (and free). Either way, happy soaking!
8 Best Hot Springs in California
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List of Natural Hot Springs in California
One of the meccas for hot spring vacations is Desert Hot Springs, CA, also known as California’s Spa City. It’s actually the world’s only destination with both hot and cold mineral spring aquifers. There are more than a dozen hot spring resorts in this town alone. Plus downtown Palm Springs is less than a 20-minute drive from nearly all of them.
Map of Natural Hot Springs in California
Local CA Hot Springs
From Northern to Southern Cali you can find some great local hot springs. Whether you’re staying in Los Angeles, Calistoga, Truckee, or somewhere in between, we’ve got you covered on the closest hot springs to town. Sometimes the best hot springs are the ones you can actually reach.
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Guide to California’s Natural Hot Springs
A state known for its diverse, multi-faceted geography and climate, California features a huge array of natural hot springs all throughout the state. These hot springs, which range from coastal pools to high mountain resorts, offer visitors the opportunity for unparalleled relaxation in natural, geothermally heated mineral water.
Home to dozens of these natural springs, California is sure to offer all types of visitors a meaningful, healing hot spring. From primitive pools in the vast California wilderness to whole towns dedicated to hot spring resorts like Desert Hot Springs, CA, or Calistoga, CA all manners of visitors can easily find a hot spring suited to their expectations in the state.
While a trip to one of California’s hot springs is sure to be great, there are a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of your visit. For all hot springs, visitors should be sure to bring a water bottle. It’s easy to forget to hydrate, and the hot mineral water can make it easy to become overheated and dehydrated if special care is not taken.
Types of Hot Springs in California
Before planning a visit to one of California’s many hot springs, it’s important to understand the different types of offerings throughout the state. Primarily, the state’s hot springs are divided into two categories: primitive hot springs and hot spring resorts.
Primitive Hot Springs
For those seeking a minimalist experience with a focus on solitude, one of California’s primitive, wilderness hot springs would be best. Generally characterized by their isolation and proximity to nature, these primitive hot springs are decidedly simple.
They’re often just composed of a basic concrete tub or natural riverside rock pool, and hot mineral water is normally pumped in from a nearby source. There are usually no amenities, and these springs can sometimes become overused and dirty during crowded seasons.
California’s primitive hot springs are not right for those looking for luxurious pools and accommodations, but these budget-friendly options are perfect for the adventurous soaker who values isolation over amenities. They may not be the fanciest option around, but soaking in a wilderness hot spring pool overlooking the Sierra Nevada Mountains is a clear path to relaxation and introspection for many.
For primitive hot springs, the most important thing to keep in mind is accessibility. Many of these pools require traversing dirt roads to access, so high-clearance vehicles are often recommended. Similarly, access can be limited during the winter months and during rain, so soakers should make sure to take precautions when preparing and planning for their visit.
Hot Spring Resorts
On the other hand, California is also home to a variety of posh hot spring resorts. Unlike their primitive counterparts, these resorts are often characterized by beautiful, luxurious pools and tubs, and they generally feature well-appointed accommodations that extend the relaxation of the springs into the guestrooms.
The hot springs resorts are often more crowded than primitive pools, but they’re perfect for those guests searching for a more traditional vacation in a developed area. These resorts usually offer a wide variety of soaking options, like large pools, individual tubs, and even communal bathhouses, and they’re often home to a variety of relaxing amenities like massage facilities and yoga classes.
At the various hot spring resorts that are throughout California, visitors should be sure to take advantage of the other amenities present on the property. These resorts usually feature world-class massage facilities, which is a perfect complement to the relaxing mineral waters found in the pools.
Similarly, guests who live near one of California’s hot spring resorts should consider purchasing day passes. Instead of booking a hotel room to gain access to the pools, most resorts offer some sort of day pass which grants access to the resort’s pools and facilities for a much lower cost. This provides guests with most of the benefits of the resort without the high prices that often accompany hotel rooms.
Camping nearby hot springs
To best enjoy most of California’s primitive springs, soakers should consider camping nearby. Besides the benefits of being in the beautiful wilderness, this provides visitors with the unique opportunity to soak later into the night and during the early morning hours, thus helping to ensure a more private soaking experience.
However, potential campers should keep in mind the lack of amenities at most of the sites, and they must be prepared to be self-sufficient. Resorts will typically have more amenities while primitive dispersed campsites will provide nothing but a place to park, you pack in the rest.
3 of Cali’s Favorite Hot Springs
California is rich in public and private hot springs, attracting many travelers around the year. Some of these natural geothermal springs are accessible via simple or challenging hiking trails, whereas others are managed by hotel and spa services, also offering numerous accommodation options for overnight stays.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular hot springs in California:
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs
Situated in Calistoga in the Napa Valley, this resort comprises several smaller springs that have varying temperature ranges. Since the 1900s, a spa has also operated in the area offering facilities such as general spa services, a wellness center, and mud baths. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs comprises four small mineral pools, and a large one referred to as the Roman Pool.
Each of the four smaller pools features a variety of pools. These include a whirlpool, a lap pool with multiple lanes, a soaking pool, and a wading pool for kids. Of the three adult pools, the lap pool has the lowest temperature at 80oF or 26oC, the soaking pool has a temperature of 100oF or 37oC, and the whirlpool has the greatest temperature, regulated at 104oF or 40oC.
Patios with day beds, sun loungers, and barbecue pits have been set up around the pool area.
Crowley Hot Springs
The Crowley Hot Springs in California, often referred to as the Wild Willy’s, is situated in the Mammoth Lakes area, close to the Hot Creek Geothermal Area. The springs can be accessed after hiking up a 2-mile path.
The site boasts two pools set in lush green plains and is surrounded by breathtaking views of the mountains. The first pool is around 10 feet wide and has a depth of around 3 feet, offering a warm and relaxing temperature. The second pool is slightly bigger in size and is hotter as well. The waters are an intense blue, and rich in minerals, perfect for a dip to refresh your body and mind.
Deep Creek Hot Springs
The Deep Creek Hot Springs flow out from the Mojave River in the northern part of the Mojave Desert at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountain Range. They can be accessed via the Pacific Crest Trail or the Freedom Trail.
Under the management of the San Bernardino National Forest, the area features a number of pools, filled with both hot and cold waters. The soaking area is surrounded by exotic views of the woodlands and the conifer forests.
These visitors simply want to enjoy the therapeutic and healing powers of the mineral-rich waters. So which of these hot springs in California are you planning to visit next? We’re sure your Golden State road trip will be an enjoyable one!
Nearby States with Natural Springs
Learn more about what makes California famous on our sister site, La Vida Nomad.