California is one of the best places to explore and enjoy natural hot springs. Explore with me as I travel throughout the Golden State to find the best natural hot springs across the state. Whether you are looking for a place to unwind and relax or have an adventure of a lifetime, in this guide, you will be sure to find the perfect hot springs resort in California.
Hot springs are formed by geothermal heat which forms when groundwater is heated. Geothermal means that the natural heat is produced within a layer of the earth. California’s active landscape pushes mineral-based springs to the earth’s surface, which creates the hot water in the steaming pools.
Alright – enough with the geography lesson, let’s get on to the good stuff!
Here is the guide to all the best natural hot springs in California:
Travertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport, CA
If you are looking for hot springs with amazing mountain views, be sure to check out Travertine Hot Springs. The thermal springs are accessible by a dirt road which is only a few miles from Highway 395. You can drive right on into the first pools. Afterwards, make sure you walk a short distance to take in the epic views of the jagged Sawtooth Ridge as you enjoy and relax in the thermic bliss.
These pools range in temperature but the hottest one is right next to the parking area. When I say hot, the water is extremely hot. You could literally have a cup of boiling water ready for tea.
Make sure you test it out before jumping right in.
There are plenty of hot tubs to relax in, though. If you find the first few already occupied, head east through the maze of travertine rock and you will stumble upon 4 small pools in grassy meadow.
One of the best perks of these pools is that the bottom of the natural springs is mud, which can boost blood circulation and relieve pain. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the hot mineral springs.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
TIP: Because the land surrounding the hot springs is Forest Service Land, you can legally camp for free in this area in any of the pullouts along the back roads. Be aware that it is primitive camping with no facilities so be prepared to bring in everything, including plenty of water for your stay.
LEAVE NO TRACE: Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Explore responsibly 🙂
Vichy Springs Resort, Ukiah, CA
The Vichy Hot Springs is located right off Route 101 and set on 700 acres of private land, this resort with hot springs was established in 1854. It is less than 8 miles from Lake Mendocino and 23 miles from South Cow Mountain Recreation Area.
Being only 2 hours north of San Francisco, this resort is the perfect place to escape for a weekend getaway. Besides the in-ground hot spring pool, there is an Olympic-size pool to enjoy as well. You can really unwind with a wonderful massage and facial available at the spa.
If you prefer to just come to Vichy Springs for the day, there are day-use packages available as well. Day use includes use of the famous Vichy Mineral Baths, Olympic swimming pool (when in season), the hot pool and over 700-acres of walking and hiking trails.
Calistoga Spa Hot Springs, Calistoga, CA
If you are looking for a luxury experience, consider going to Calistoga Hot Springs. Located at the northern tip in Napa Valley at the foot of Mount St. Helena, this beautiful hotel with mineral pools is only a 3-minute walk from downtown Calistoga and numerous wineries and tasting rooms.
There are a total of 4 geothermal mineral pools, with temperatures ranging from 84 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a lap pool, a children’s pool and a soaking pool. The spa also offers 8 massage rooms, volcanic ash mineral tubs and steam rooms that can accommodate small groups and individuals.
After a nice soak in the hot tubs, enjoy a walk downtown to one of the many restaurants and art galleries in the area. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs is surrounded by lush greenery and vineyards and the Palisade Mountains. There is so much to explore in the surrounding areas of the hot pools.
Be sure to check out the Calistoga Inn Restaurant & Brewery for a bite to eat as you explore the area.
Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, CA
Located just 2 hours northeast of San Francisco, Harbin Hot Springs is one of the oldest hot springs in California. It is a non-profit and is owned by Heart Consciousness Church, which operates Harbin as a spiritual retreat center.
Harbin has over 1700 acres of meadows, canyons, hills and creeks for you to explore and is only a 30-minute drive from the Napa Valley wine region. Harbin is a peaceful and relaxing place to embrace nature and to become in tune with oneself.
Keep in mind that Harbin is a clothing-optional resort. Reservations are required for all lodging at the cottages or caravans and for over 6-hour visits for weekends.
PLEASE NOTE: Masks are mandatory at all times while visiting Harbin, even while soaking. Masks are not required while swimming in the swimming pool but masks must be worn in all public spaces at all times unless you are eating. Masks must also be worn while soaking and sitting socially distanced at poolside.
Orr Hot Springs, Ukiah, CA
Set on over 27 acres of parkland, this clothing-optional resort is a small, tranquil place nestled deep in the hills of the Mendocino Coastal Range, equipped with cabins, camping and yurts. If you are looking for a secluded and peaceful hot springs experience, consider visiting Orr Hot Springs.
Nestled between Mendocino and Ukiah, Orr Hot Springs sits on 27 acres at the headwaters of Big River. The lodge and some of the cabins were constructed in the 1930’s, so you are a part of a historical and tranquil place at Orr Hot Springs.
NOTE: There are a maximum of 20 guests on the property at one time in order to keep guests safe. All high-traffic areas are sanitized every 1-2 hours for peace of mind and safety.
Mono Hot Springs, Lakeshore, CA
If you are seeking adventure and outdoor activities, you definitely want to check out Mono Hot Springs. It truly is a unique experience to enjoy the wilderness and experience epic hiking, trout fishing, swimming, horseback riding, boating and relaxation in the hot springs.
Located in central California in Fresno County within the Sierra National Forest, Mono Hot Springs is 6 hours northeast of Los Angeles and 6 hours southeast of San Francisco.
Not only can you enjoy the sierra hot springs at Mono Hot Springs but you can also enjoy spectacular hiking opportunities in the Sierra Nevada deep in the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness. Within the resort, you can enjoy mineral hot springs, spa treatments, massages and even WiFi in the historic cabin accommodations in an overnight stay at the resort.
NOTE: Mono Hot Springs is open from Memorial Day weekend in May and runs through October, closing November 1st. It is advised to call ahead for reservations.
Sespe Hot Springs, Ojai, CA
If you are looking for a spectacular hiking experience, be sure to check out Sespe Hot Springs. Keep in mind that it is only accessible via a 17-mile hike located in southern California near Ojai that features local hot springs and wildlife along the trail. The hike to Sespe Hot Springs is rated as difficult but the trail offers a lot of activity options.
Located in the Los Padres National Forest, the spring months are considered the best time to visit as the temperatures can climb upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The hike to Sespe Hot Springs crosses over 7 rivers, should you decide to take Highway 33 to Rose Valley Road to the Piedra Blanca Trailhead.
Another route is to take Alder Creek Trail, which is considered a moderately difficult hike. At the trailhead you enter the Sespe Wilderness, and you would hike north 2.5 miles to the first trail junction and then turn left towards Alder Creek.
NOTE: In the summer months, water is very low and the temperatures are hot and there is not much shade on this hike towards the hot springs. Make sure you bring plenty of water and stay hydrated on your way to the springs.
Gaviota Hot Springs, Goleta, CA
Venture up the highway from Gaviota State Beach and Camprground to explore the soaking pool of Gaviota Hot Springs. The hike up to the springs is about a half-mile up from the trailhead and can be found at the end of a short side trail that branches right off the trail that ascends to Gaviota Peak. The elevation gain is about 400 feet to the soaking pool.
Gaviota Hot Springs are also known as Las Cruces Hot Springs after the small town that once existed along the intersection of Highway 1 and Highway 101. You will find 2 stone mud-bottomed pools. The springs are warm, with temperatures at about 96 degrees Fahrenheit, which can fit roughly 8 people at a time.
NOTE: Though the surroundings are peaceful and serene, the trail can get crowded. The springs are great for soaking but the water does have a strong sulfur smell that you can typically smell before you reach the pools. There is also a reasonable amount of poison oak along this trail. Make sure you wear pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Also, pets are not allowed.
Indian Springs Resort, Calistoga, CA
If you are looking for a beautiful and relaxing getaway, consider escaping to the luxury resort of Indian Springs Resort, which is a historic hotel in Napa Valley with mineral pools, lush gardens and luxury amenities and accommodations.
With over 17 acres of rolling hills, olive trees and ponds, you can explore the lavender and rose gardens that surround the property. Stay in one of the breathtaking cottages along the property – each with their own spectacular view.
Relax in one of the mineral pools and immerse yourself in the mud baths for a truly relaxing experience. There are 2 pools on the property to enjoy – one for adults only and one for guests of all ages. The highly mineralized water is from the resorts very own geysers, which provide health benefits for all to enjoy.
The adult pool is smaller and more intimate so you can relax in privacy and enjoy the benefits of the mineralized pool in a quieter setting.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, Sonoma, CA
If the ultimate luxury experience is on your bucket list, then the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is your destination for relaxation. Rated as one of the top 25 spas by Travel + Leisure, Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is one of Wine Country’s exclusive destination resorts. Whether you are staying as a guest or for day spa services, this resort offers relaxation and rejuvenation unlike any other.
Historically admired by Native Americans for its healing power, this Spanish-style inn boasts the perfect location as it sits atop an ancient geothermal mineral spring, flowing from 1,100 feet below the surface.
CALL AHEAD: The bathhouse and bathing ritual remain closed in accordance with the Sonoma County guidelines. Be sure to call for more information regarding the bathhouse facilities.
Pine Ridge Trail, Big Sur, CA
Known as one of the most popular hiking trails in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, this 19.5 mile trail goes from the Ventana Wilderness all the way to Big Sur.
Sykes Hot Springs is located within a 12-mile stretch of trail from Big Sur to Redwood Camp. This is a strenuous hike with considerable elevation gain and loss. Trees are known to fall often on the path making it difficult. Once you access the pools, the springs are about 8 feet across with temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the weather.
Be prepared to cross streams and always use caution – especially during the winter and spring months due to high, swift water.
Sykes Camp is an extremely popular campground and destination and it is better enjoyed during the week instead of the weekends when it can get extremely crowded.
PLAN AHEAD: Check with the US Forest Service for the Los Padres National Forest or call (831) 385-5434 for current fire restrictions and more information. Please note that this hike will take approximately 6 hours of hiking time to get from Big Sur Station to Sykes Camp.
Wilbur Hot Springs, Williams, CA
Wilbur Hot Springs is a sanctuary where you can enjoy the benefits of natural hot mineral spring water. With remarkable healing properties, the rare and unique healing properties in the water set Wilbur Hot Springs apart from other hot springs and resorts. The therapeutic waters heal the body and make you feel at ease.
The natural hot springs in the flumes are enhanced with an outdoor mineral flume and a dry sauna. The flumes of the hot springs are spring-fed by a swimming pool, which provide for a relaxing and serene experience.
The sulfur mineral springs at Wilbur provide many health benefits, including relieving pain, easing depression and detoxifying the skin. If you want a relaxing spa experience, Wilbur is an amazing sanctuary.
Like this post? Share it and Pin It for later!