Hot Springs in California

Kurt Norris
Last Updated: July 19th, 2023

With over 300 known hot springs, California is home to the second largest concentration of thermal pools in the U.S. and only features fewer hot springs than its neighbor, Nevada. Still, with such an extensive list of hot springs, each offering its own unique experiences, visitors are sure to find a natural heated reserve perfect for them.

However, before beginning their journey into the remarkable healing properties of California hot springs, visitors should first understand the different varieties and regions of the state’s thermal pools.

From tucked-away primitive pools to full-service luxurious thermal spas, this is everything you need to know about hot springs in California.

California Hot Spring Regions

California hot springs can be found throughout the entirety of the state. Even so, the variety of thermal pools is divided into four specific regions, each offering a unique experience.

Northern California

Spanning from California’s northern border with Washington down to San Francisco, the Northern California region is famous for its abundant variety of hot spring resorts. The region is primarily renowned for its springs in Wine Country, particularly Napa Valley’s Calistoga.

  • Eagleville Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Hunt Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Kosk Creek Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • West Valley Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Feather River Hot Springs (Primitive)

Southern California

Another of California’s most abundant hot spring regions, Southern California is home to beautiful landscapes and dramatic coastlines.

Still, this region south of Los Angeles is also a fantastic spot for sampling diverse thermal pools and features several primitive pools, community springs, and hot spring resorts.

Heart-Shaped-Hot-Springs
  • Big Caliente Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Deep Creek Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Little Caliente Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Deer Creek Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Gaviota State Park Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Five Palms Oasis (Primitive)
  • Miracle Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Pyramid Hot Spring (Primitive)
  • Remington Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • San Juan Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Agua Caliente Hot Springs (Community)
  • Beverly Hot Springs (Community)
  • Desert Hot Springs (Community)
  • Holtville Hot Springs (Community)
  • Shoshone Inn Hot Springs (Community)

Central California Coast

Offering the greatest concentration of community springs in the state, the region lining the central California coast is the best destination for visitors seeking an authentic thermal pool experience while admiring some of the most breathtaking views of the iconic shorelines.

Julia-Pfeiffer-State-Park
  • Franklin Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Sespe Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Avila Hot Springs (Community)
  • Esalen Hot Springs (Community
  • Mono Hot Springs (Community)
  • Morton Warm Springs (Community)
  • River Oaks Hot Springs Spa (Community)
  • Sykes Hot Springs (Community)
  • Tassajara Hot Springs (Community)

Eastern California

Featuring the majority of the state’s primitive hot springs, Eastern California is the best destination for adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts to submerge in the healing waters of a thermal bath. This region lining the state’s eastern border promises plenty of tucked-away hot springs surrounded by the natural beauty of the state’s interior landscapes.

  • Steamboat Healing Center and Spa (Resort)
  • Benton Hot Springs (Community)
  • Grover Hot Springs (Community)
  • Bishop Hot Springs (Community)
  • Whitmore Pool (Community)
  • Carson Hot Springs (Community)
  • Alkali Lake Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Buckeye Hot Spring (Primitive)
  • Carson River Hot Spring (Primitive)
  • Crab Cooker Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Crowley Hot Spring (Primitive)
  • Dirt Sock Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Fales Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Hilltop Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Keough’s Hot Springs Ditch (Primitive)
  • Little Hot Creek Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Mammoth Hot Creek (Primitive)
  • Owens Valley Warm Springs (Primitive)
  • Rock Tub Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Travertine Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Saline Valley Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Shepherd Hot Springs (Primitive)
  • Fish Lake Valley Hot Well (Primitive)
  • Ash Meadows (Primitive)

The Most Popular Hot Springs in California

Deep Creek Hot Springs

Located near Apple Valley just outside of Los Angeles in Southern California, Deep Creek Hot Springs is one of the most beautiful primitive springs in the state and is tucked away in one of the region’s most natural corners.

Deep-Creek
Deep Creek Hot Springs​ via Q Brickell

There are two ways for visitors to access the springs. The first is through a 2.5-mile hike along a trail accessed through Bowen Ranch Road. However, the most rewarding way to experience the springs is after a rigorous 6-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Regardless of your route, both trails lead to the Mojave River’s Deep Creek fork, home to three natural thermal pools reaching temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperatures are too warm, the Mojave River provides easy access to its cool waters.

Esalen Hot Springs

Offering one of the most unique hot spring experiences in the state, the Esalen Hot Springs is a non-profit retreat center that invites guests to submerge in its calming thermal baths while admiring unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean.

Esalen-Hot-Springs
esalen hot springs via nate bolt

Located in Big Sur along the Central California coast, Esalen Hot Springs features its eponymous hot spring pools, yoga workshops, massage facilities, and an onsite farm that serves as a sustainable food source.

Additionally, the Esalen Hot Springs is a community within itself and provides visitors with an enhanced disconnected experience by restricting cellphone reception and internet access.

Esalen Hot Springs, better known as Esalen Institute, has a large focus on new-age courses and group activities that focus on spiritual healing through yoga, meditation, and exploring healing rituals from around the world.

It provides the perfect setting for reconnecting with nature while enjoying the mineral waters of the spring and the calming sea air of the California Coast.

Vichy Springs Resort

Believed to have been formed approximately five million years ago, the Vichy Springs are some of the oldest and most celebrated in the state. The current resort that services the springs first opened in 1852. However, the springs themselves have been frequented by the indigenous Pomo tribes in the area for at least 5,000 years prior.

Today, the springs continue to serve as a destination of healing and relaxation but are now accompanied by the added luxury of a full-service resort, including accommodations and other onsite amenities.

The biggest draw to the Vichy Springs Resort is the facility’s unique mineral baths which feature naturally carbonated waters. This unique experience, combined with the added comforts of the resort, makes the Vichy Springs one of the best thermal pools in California.

Types of Hot Springs in California

With over 300 unique hot springs, California’s thermal baths offer experiences as varied and colorful as the state’s picturesque landscapes. While there are many differences between each region’s thermal destinations, all of California’s hot springs can typically be classified as one of three varieties— a primitive pool, a community spring, or a hot spring resort.

Primitive Hot Springs

Primitive hot springs are the most natural occurrence of the thermal bath phenomenon. However, they are typically undeveloped destinations and lack additional comforts of onsite services or amenities.

Travertine-Hot-Spring

While these pool varieties are the most rustic of California’s hot spring offerings, they are also the most rewarding as they often require lengthy and rigorous hikes to reach. Additionally, since they lack any maintenance or regulation from any formal body, primitive hot springs are also free to access, making them the most economically-friendly way to explore the state’s geothermal pools.

Community Hot Springs and Spas

Featuring slightly more amenities than the primitive pools, community hot springs are small facilities maintained as a local business. These facilities often include base amenities such as changing rooms, bathrooms, and maintained pools, but they can also feature luxurious additions that include onsite spa services.

Mono-Hot-Springs
Mono Hot Springs via Tim Olson

These comfortable soaking destinations can be found throughout the state, including in all of California’s major cities. However, for an authentic hot springs experience, the community springs in the state’s small towns offer the optimal setting and provide a tranquil soak overlooking California’s picturesque countryside.

Hot Spring Resorts

Hot spring resorts can be found throughout California and offer visitors the greatest convenience and comfort for submerging in the state’s natural thermal waters. These luxurious facilities often include onsite lodging and provide a full-service stay that promises relaxation and ambient tranquility.

Springs-Resort
Indian Springs Resort & Spa via Kent Kanouse

When staying at a hot spring resort, visitors receive a heightened experience as they engage the facility’s opulent services and amenities, which often include restaurants, spa treatments, and plenty of offsite excursion opportunities.

When seeking a wellness retreat or a planned itinerary that combines an exploration of the countryside with the soothing powers of a hot spring soak, booking a room at one of the state’s hot spring resorts is the best way to engage the relaxing nature of these thermal pools.

About The Author

Kurt Norris

A Canada-based freelance writer, Kurt acquired his bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Windsor. He began his professional writing career while in school as a sports journalist. Upon graduating, Kurt left the courtside media desk behind and began venturing the globe. Throughout his journeys, Kurt enjoys partaking in slow travel and loves to explore the histories and cultures of each destination, which he shares with others through his writing.

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