If you want to travel off the beaten path and find some of the most beautiful mineral waters within Death Valley National Park, head to Saline Valley Hot Springs, also referred to as the “Warm Springs.” The area boasts three clothing-optional hot spring pools with exquisite desert and mountain views.
Saline Valley Warm Springs began in the early 1950s when recreational users developed the tubs and crafted art illustrations around the area. From there, it became a treasure trove for hippies during the 60s – so much so that it was visited by the infamous Charles Manson. Since 1994, the area has been managed by NPS after the California Desert Protection Act.
While it’s been deemed relatively challenging to find, any travel will state that it’s well worth the hunt. Not only will you be greeted with manufactured and natural hot spring pools, but you might be lucky enough to spot a burro, coyote, or other species of wildlife roaming around the barren lands.
Clothing-Optional Hot Spring Pools
There are three soaking options for travelers, offering plenty of escapes to suit your needs. Temperatures can range from 95-107°F, depending on the season.
The first two options are known as the “Lower Spring” and “Palm Spring Hot Springs.” These manmade hot spring tubs are developed with lovely rock detailing and showers to rinse off before you bathe.
If you prefer undeveloped hot springs in a bid to become one with nature, the “Upper Hot Springs” is the best option. This all-natural hot spring is approximately two miles from the Lower Spring and Palm Spring.
Regardless of which hot spring pool you decide to indulge in, you will be met with some exotic views of the prestigious desert and an enthralling mountain range on the horizon.
In 1994, the three pools at Saline Valley Hot Springs became a part of Death Valley National Park. That said, the pools are open to everyone, and clothing is 100% optional.
Keeping the area clean is a must. For one, soakers need to respect and preserve the site. Not only that but burros and coyotes are regular visitors to the area, especially if there’s trash left out for rummaging.
Sun Valley Campground
With a jaw-dropping landscape and three premier hot spring pools to relax in, it can be hard to depart the wondrous Saline Valley Hot Springs. If you simply can’t seem to pull yourself away, you’ll be glad to know that camping is allowed for up to 30 days.
There is no camping fee to enjoy the Saline Valley Campground, yet there are also no amenities. Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of source springs though. A 4wd vehicle is recommended to reach this campground, which is on mountain dirt roads. Cell phone service is likely non-existent.
The biggest highlights are the vast open skies, the inviting hot spring pools, and a community fire pit to unwind with friends and family (bring your own firewood!)
The Saline Valley Hot Springs are a mystical desert oasis that is superiorly remote. That said, you’ll need to travel anywhere from two to four hours on a dirt road to reach them. It’s located more than 30 miles from the closest paved road.
While you may be able to reach the springs on a regular 2WD vehicle, vehicles with a high clearance or 4WD are highly recommended. You’ll need to take one of two high alpine routes: North Pass (7,300′) or South Pass (5,997′), which can become problematic and closed during winter storms.
Keep in mind that the road conditions may be brutal during the rainy and snowy seasons.
Address: South Warm Springs Road, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, California 92328