Error message

  • Lingotek profile ID 4 not found.
  • Lingotek profile ID 3 not found.
8 California Hot Springs vc_hotsprings_travertinehotsprings_st_rf_457954117_1280x640
Kris Wiktor/Shutterstock

8 California Hot Springs

8 California Hot Springs
Take a soak in these thermal baths, mineral pools and private tubs

Need to unwind? Chill out with a dip in geothermally heated waters. California’s geologically active landscape pushes mineral-laden springs to the earth’s surface, creating a liquid nirvana in steaming pools. Immerse your body and evaporate your stress in these soak-worthy springs, which are just a sampling of California’s abundant collection.

Vichy Springs Resort, Ukiah

Located two hours north of San Francisco, the bubbly springs at the nearly 165-year-old Vichy Springs Resort have the same carbon dioxide rich make-up as the famous carbonated waters of Vichy, France. Book an overnight stay in one of the cottages, then spend your time in the 40°C hot pool, Olympic-size swimming pool, or the 32°C carbonated mineral baths. A half-hour walk leads to Chemisal Falls, where you can plunge into the creek’s chilly pool. Famous Vichy Springs soakers have included Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Jack London.

Sierra Hot Springs Resort & Retreat Center, Sierraville

At the 700-acre Sierra Hot Springs resort in an alpine valley north of Truckee, hot mineral water flows into pools and private tubs ranging in temperature from 29.5°C to 43°C. The hottest pool is enclosed in a large geodesic dome with stained glass and skylights and the sand-bottomed 'meditation pool' is perfect for stargazing. Summer is the most popular season, but soaking on a crisp winter's day is glorious. Therapists offer various types of massage, including Watsu water massage. Pitch your tent on the property or book a room at the historic 1870s' lodge.

Wilbur Hot Springs, Williams

East of Clearlake, Wilbur Hot Springs is an 1,800-acre nature reserve with naturally occurring hot mineral springs that were used by Native Americans for thousands of years. The water emerges at approximately 63°C where it’s channelled into a Japanese-style 'flumarium' — three long flumes with temperatures that average between 37°C and 43°C. Water flows continually through the flumes, so there’s no need for chemicals. Reserve a cabin, hotel room or bunk room, and cherish the fact that you can’t get mobile reception here. A highlight is waiting for the gurgling Fountain of Life geyser to erupt, which it does every 45 minutes.

Indian Springs Resort and Spa, Calistoga

Visitors have been 'taking the waters' at this down-to-earth Napa Valley town since its founding in the mid-19th century. One of Calistoga’s oldest mineral water emporiums, Indian Springs has been delivering detoxifying treatments since 1861. The signature mud bath has you submerged up to the neck in warm mud made from volcanic ash and then left to bake. If that doesn’t appeal to you, opt for a few laps in the Olympic-size mineral-water pool, constantly refilled by on-site geysers. Sam’s Social Club Restaurant serves classic wine-country cuisine indoors and on its patio, and you can spend the night in a cottage, bungalow or 1930s'-era lodge room.

Travertine Hot Spring, Bridgeport

In an alkali-encrusted meadow just off US 395, a handful of mineral pools offer a postcard view of the jagged surrounding mountains. The rustic site’s thermally heated water is scalding at its source, but cools to a comfortable temperature as it flows down travertine rock formations to the pools. Bring your own towels and drinking water, and expect a crowd at weekends. To get there, drive south of Bridgeport on US 395 and then turn east onto unpaved Jack Sawyer Road (by the ranger station) for about one mile.

The Inn at Benton Hot Springs, Benton

At this sagebrush-covered desert oasis east of Mammoth Lakes, soothe your aches and pains in the shade of cottonwood trees. Nine outdoor tubs, some redwood, some fibreglass and one made of stone are equipped with hot and cold taps so you can control the temperature. Campers should book in advance to secure a pitch with a private tub. B&B rooms are also available. Benton is an old mining outpost, but the region turned out to be much richer in mineral water than silver.

Beverly Hot Springs, Los Angeles

At LA’s only natural mineral spring spa, the 40.5 °C artesian water was discovered by accident in the 1920s by drillers looking for oil. What they found was sodium-bicarbonate-rich H2O, ideal for drinking and bathing. Start by immersing yourself in the large hot pool and then move on to the cold plunge, sauna or steam bath. The bamboo fusion massage is a worthy indulgence, enjoy as your therapist kneads away your stresses with heated bamboo sticks. Leave your phone in the car; the 'no talking' rule is strictly enforced.

The Spring Resort and Spa, Desert Hot Springs

In this unpretentious Coachella Valley town, crystal-clear waters rise from underground at 77°C, filling The Spring’s three sparkling mineral pools with smooth-as-silk aqua pura. Visit for a day of watery bliss or spend the whole weekend at this intimate, palm-tree-lined resort (book in advance to grab one of nine rooms by the pool). It’s tempting to soak all day, but allow time for the Finnish sauna or a full-body salt scrub and you can kiss your impurities goodbye.

8 California Hot Springs Pillars_Outdoor_OR_RD_50003619_1280x640

California: Outdoor


Explore California's Outdoor Playgrounds
A path in the Redwood National Park
Discover the North Coast

Hugging California’s north-western edge, a spectacular network of parks protecting nearly half of the world’s coast redwoods, the world’s tallest living things, which grow...

8 California Hot Springs VCW_D_Yosemite_Hero_20140503_Yosemite_hero_1280x642_1
Discover the High Sierra

Famous for its plunging waterfalls and massive granite faces, this unparalleled parkland, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, attracts 4 million visitors...

8 California Hot Springs VCW_D_DE_T1__DE_DeathValley_Flippen_1280x642_sized
Discover the Deserts

The largest national park outside Alaska, Death Valley is an almost unfathomable place. The park’s 3.3 million acres encompass mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-...

From Gold Rush history to 8th wonders of the world, visit these favorites

If there was ever a box of chocolates—and all of them delicious—it’s the rich collection of natural treasures, fascinating...

8 California Hot Springs McWayFalls_JPB_SP_preview_686x885
Amy Meredith/Flickr