What could be better than a relaxing spa day for some well-earned you-time? For many folks, it is visiting bonafide natural hot springs and taking a dip in soothing, healing waters that may be thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years old!
Hot springs are very special places. Particular hot springs may be noted for specific beneficial or curative properties. California happens to be one place where natural hot springs are particularly prevalent.
In fact, there are so many natural hot springs in California it can be a challenge to decide which ones to visit, which is precisely what this article can help you with!
The Best Natural Hot Springs In California
1. Vichy Springs (Ukiah, CA)
First on our list of the best natural hot springs in California is Vichy Springs.
If you’ve ever fantasized about soaking in warm, bubbly champagne, this is the hot springs for you! The mineral baths at Vichy Springs in the small Northern California town of Ukiah, CA, are naturally “carbonated” and rich with naturally occurring minerals that leave your hair and skin looking feeling soft, supple, and youthful.
The water stays at a constant 90°F (32°C) as it flows upwards from its source 30,000 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The waters are said to help relieve skin conditions, joint conditions like rheumatism and arthritis, gout, and stomach ulcers among other ailments.
You can go for the day and enjoy the other pools and hiking as well or stay at the Vichy Springs Resort overnight.
2. Wilbur Hot Springs (Williams, CA)
This Northern California hot springs destination features a series of natural hot springs channeled into three pools using ancient Japanese water channeling art called a “Flumenarium.” One pool is 98°F (36.66°C). One pool is 105°F (40.55°C). And one pool is 109°F (42.77°C). So you can pick the pool that is right for your health and relaxation needs.
You can go for the day or spend the night at the nearby resort. Be aware that clothing is optional here! In addition to the hot springs, enjoy a dry sauna, massage, and a nearby nature preserve.
3. Calistoga Springs (Calistoga, CA)
If you are headed to California’s famed wine country, you won’t want to pay a visit to the many natural hot springs in the region, which are concentrated in the lovely little spa town of Calistoga at the Calistoga Springs Resort.
These hot springs offer something few other hot springs in the region can match – natural mud baths rich with volcanic ash that purifies and detoxifies while relaxing your muscles and joints and leaving you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Calistoga also offers lots of other fun amenities, including bicycles for rent, access to nearby wine tours, sweet boutiques, and eateries.
4. Avila Hot Springs (San Luis Obispo, CA)
If you are headed towards the central California coastline and you fancy more of an outdoorsy, do-it-yourself hot springs adventure, you won’t find better than Avila Hot Springs. This is a favorite hot spring soaking spot for locals and tourists alike and the vibe is very family-friendly, down-to-earth, and low-key for all.
This natural artesian mineral springs pool was first discovered in 1907 by a band of prospectors who were hoping to find oil! While the prospectors left disappointed, thousands of visitors are delighted annually by the opportunity to visit the rustic little town, enjoy dry camping or local accommodations and take a dip in the hot springs.
5. Tecopa Hot Springs (Tecopa, CA)
This Southern California hot spring is termed “special” by its many fans and visitors. Located in the small homey town of Tecopa, CA, the hot springs are known for their soothing properties for aching muscles and joints.
The day-use rate is quite affordable or you can use the soaking tubs for free when you stay for the night in the nearby Tecopa Inn. The waters stay between 101°F and 104°F (38.33°C and 40°C). The mineral content is posted on the resort website. On-site and local spa services are also available.
6. Beverly Hot Springs (Los Angeles, CA)
For those heading into the big city on business or pleasure, you will be thrilled to know you have natural hot springs located inside the city limits! The Beverly Hot Springs owes its existence to yet another team of wildcatters who happened upon it while drilling for a different quarry – oil.
Today, the hot springs draw visitors from around the city and country to its natural hot springs waters, which remain between 95°F and 105°F (35°C and 40.55°C) all year round. The water is naturally carbonated, so some guests say it feels like soaking in therapeutic champagne!
The spa also offers a wide assortment of skin and spa services, including massage, facials, body treatments, dry saunas, a unique eucalyptus steam room, and a cold plunge pool.
7. Glen Ivy Hot Springs (Corona, CA)
If you are heading south out of Los Angeles, you won’t want to miss taking a trip to Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which fans have nicknamed “Club Mud.” The nickname arises from this famed day spa’s red clay mud, which visitors are welcome to smear all over their bodies as part of their experience.
There is another unique feature called The Grotto which features a seaweed/aloe vera moisturizing treatment. The spa boasts 19 different pools, plus steam rooms and saunas, and lots of treatments and classes.
8. Mercey Springs (Firebaugh, CA)
Mercey Springs is located at a halfway point just off Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles, CA. As such, it tends to attract a lot of travelers and has become a popular stopping-off point.
The lovely location also attracts birdwatching enthusiasts from around the world. In addition to the mineral-rich hot springs, enjoy a sauna, yoga, hiking, easy access to nearby natural areas, mountain biking, and stargazing.
9. Grover Hot Springs State Park (Markleeville, CA)
Grover Hot Springs State Park is tucked away inside the literal back-to-back network of famous natural areas ranging from Yosemite National Park up to Tahoe Natural Forest. Located just outside of the popular South Lake Tahoe recreational area, the hot springs have attracted visitors for more than a century.
One unusually interesting feature of these hot springs is that the mineral deposits can make the hot springs look green when viewed from particular angles.
In addition to soaking in the hot springs, you can enjoy all of the amenities of this historic state park, including hiking, swimming, fishing (the trout stream is another popular draw to visitors), geocaching, stargazing, and camping.
10. Esalen Hot Springs (Big Sur, CA)
You won’t find any other California hot springs experience like this one. Esalen is a famed site for a spiritual retreat that has hosted some of the most famous names in the entertainment and self-help industries. The Esselen Indians, a tribe that dates back 6,000 years, give the Esalen Hot Springs and Institute its name.
Esalen’s hot springs are just one facet of its worldwide appeal, which includes the breathtaking views of the Big Sur coastline. The Esalen Institute offers a vast array of classes and workshops as well as nearby hiking, wildlife watching, biking, and stargazing.
You can enjoy day or night bathing in the natural hot springs. Night bathing is by reservation only and typically happens between 1 am and 3 am nightly. The waters have developed a reputation for easing physical aches and pains such as that caused by arthritis.
11. Sierra Hot Springs (Sierraville, CA)
The Sierra Hot Springs is located in far northern California near the Nevada border. These hot springs offer a perfect, quiet little getaway after enjoying the nightlife and neon of the nearby casinos in Lake Tahoe, CA, and Reno, Nevada.
The site itself is maintained by a non-profit organization as both a resort and a retreat center. You can enjoy a variety of pools of varying temperatures, including the Meditation Pool, the Warm Pool, the Phoenix Baths, the famous Temple Dome Hot Pool, and a dry sauna. Some pools are seasonal so be sure to check before you arrive. The pools are also closed periodically for cleaning.
This clothing-optional hot springs site also permits children during certain hours. You can enjoy more than 700 acres of protected natural land which offers hiking, biking, seasonal cross-country skiing, wildlife watching, stargazing, and more.
Wrapping Up The Best Natural Hot Springs in California
Well, that’s it – our list of the 11 best natural hot springs located throughout California! We’ve included options all across this vast state so you can pick the hot springs that are convenient for your travel plans. Which hot springs will you visit first?