My first encounter with clothing optional entertainment occurred in February ‘15 at Willett’s hot springs in the Sespe condor sanctuary wilderness area. After a joyful 10-mile hike, I ended up at the amazing tub filled with perfect 105-degrees F, perched high on a cliff side in a dense tree lined canyon. There were 3 naked individuals, so I felt inspired, took off all my clothes and enjoyed my first hidden natural healing hot springs in California.
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Hidden Natural Hot Springs Etiquette
It was truly an amazing experience, and I forever fell in love with naturally hot water. Besides relieving the aching muscles and joints, the water seemed to hold special properties that enhanced its attractive nature.
Willett’s hot springs water had a different feeling on the skin and a bluish turquoise glow because of the rich mineral content; also smelled slightly of cooked eggs because of the sulfur.
After that backpacking trip, hidden natural healing hot springs in California have continued to call my name. Since then, I have visited over 20 hot springs from privately owned resorts to wild natural pools.
NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center lists 1661 hot springs in the United States alone. Search the online database or view on a map. I look forward to getting out and exploring more, but so far these hidden natural healing hot springs in California are my favorite.
I love sharing them with people who enjoy the natural health benefits and healing properties of the water. Please continue to show respect for the land so that these spaces can remain open for all to enjoy.
Hot Spring Nudity
The vast majority of hidden natural healing hot springs in California are clothing optional. There are instances where a private property owner or regulatory authority posts a “NO NUDITY ALLOWED” signs.
Obey all signs or risk a citation!
If a group of bathers mutually agrees to be nude, there shouldn’t be any problems. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many people are willing to agree to the clothing optional policy.
As a result, don’t let nudity create disagreements. If asked by fellow bathers to put on a bathing suit, its best not to create tension, just show off your hot bikini body instead!
Hot Spring Water
Hot springs originate from heat deep below the earth’s crust, and occur naturally. The water can be scalding hot, sometimes at or near the boiling point of 100 degrees C or 212 degrees F.
Test the water before jumping in. If you didn’t bring a thermometer, than at least test with your finger or hand first. The water on the surface level may be fine, but deeper water may scald you. Furthermore, mud can trap very hot water underneath, be careful!
When in doubt, stay out!
The rocks in which the geothermal system passes through control the chemical composition of the water. Nearly all of the hidden natural healing hot springs in California contains different mineral concentrations.
In addition, a variety of microorganisms live in the hot water. The amoeba naegleria fowleri is perhaps one of most lethal dangers present in certain hot springs. To be safe, don’t put your head under the water, or let the water enter your nose, eyes or mouth.
Most things that are fun in life come with certain risks, these hidden natural healing hot springs in California are without exception. Put on your favorite pair of clean flip-flops and take a walk on the wild side.
Common Sense and Safety Tips
- It’s hot: Always check the water temperature before jumping in.
- Heads up: Because many known bacteria live in the hot water, its recommended by many to always keep you head above the water.
- Ask around: If there is a ranger station or visitor center in the local area, inquire about weather conditions, backcountry permits, maps or guidance for necessary gear and supplies.
- Off-road conditions: Make sure your vehicle is prepared for the dirt road conditions. Furthermore, roads to many hot springs are primitive or non-existent, which means hiking in. In addition, sometimes it’s necessary to cross-rivers with flowing water. Cross at a shallow spot, be careful on slippery rocks and logs, and also use a stick to increase stability.
- The crew: Have consideration for other soakers. If the pool is full, ask when someone is leaving or if you may be able to join in. Furthermore, if you’re the first to arrive, invite others to join you. As a result, you would be amazed by how many fantastic conversations I have had while soaking with strangers. In addition, if others are waiting patiently for their turn to soak, exit in a timely manner and share the space for others to enjoy. Take a short break and I’m sure you will be able to get right back in.
- Where the wild things are: Dogs go with owners, and kids go with parents. As an adult, take care of you children and pets. Dogs do not belong in the hot springs and loud barking in intrusive on others’ quiet time. In the wilderness, respect the 200 feet from water bathroom rule, and clean up after your pets. Furthermore, bring a leash and use it if necessary. Introducing children to hidden natural healing hot springs in California can be an enriching wilderness adventure. Be careful with children and hot water, and maintain close supervision. It can be a wonderful experience to teach children respect for nature and other people too.
- Big no-no’s: No sex and no glass!
- Only for soaking: Hot springs are not the place to wash yourself, clothes or even cooking utensils. Soap, shampoo, detergent and toothpaste should not be used around the water.
- Land access: Some hot springs are on private property and others require you to cross over private land before arriving successfully. Be courteous and respect these lands. Remain on the trails or roads, leave it cleaner than you found it, and if stated ask for permission before entering. Act responsibly so that these springs remain open.
7 Principle of Leave No Trace
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Leave no trace is a non-profit dedicated to encouraging responsible outdoor recreation by teaching and endorsing minimal impact practices. Check out LNT.org for more info on how to better protect and preserve our lands.
Hidden Natural Hot Springs In Northern California
Enough with the cautions and rules, grab your Instagram-worthy swimsuit and let’s jump in! Here are directions to the best hidden natural healing hot springs in norther California!
Wild Willy’s Hot Spring – Mammoth Lakes, Ca
Source: Ashley B.
Natural mineral water flows out of a spring and down a small creek filling a large soaking pool able to hold about thirty people. The water temperature remains around 104 degrees F.
There is a secondary pool about 50 feet away that is filled by a separate spring. Enjoy both pools, but don’t expect much privacy because these are very well known in the local Mammoth Lakes community.
With the amount of traffic headed towards Mammoth Lakes year round, surprisingly this hot spring in norther California is well maintained. I have been to this spring a number of times and find its best to visit in the early morning just before the sun rises. If you don’t mind the crowds and want to meet other like minded party goers, visit for sunset and stay into the late evening, The party gets wild!
Directions to Wild Willy’s Hot Spring
From Mammoth Lakes head south down US 395. Turn left (east) on Benton Crossing Rd at a large green church. Travel 3 miles until you cross over the second cattle guard where you will find a dirt road on the right. Follow this dirt road for about 1.5 miles until you reach a large parking area. Park there and locate the wooden boardwalk that leads you directly to the hot springs.
Shepard Hot Spring – Mammoth Lakes, Ca
Directions to Shepard Hot Spring
From Mammoth Lakes head south down US 395. Turn east on Benton Crossing Rd at the green church. There is half a dozen more Northern California hot springs in the Mammoth Lakes area along with a magnificent geothermal site. I would equally recommend checking out the Shepard hot spring as well.
Iva Bell Hot Springs – Devils Postpile National Monument, Ca
This backcountry campground features an enjoyable cluster of a half dozen volunteer-built pools with spectacular views of the vast wilderness. These remote hidden natural healing hot springs in norther California are a little more difficult to get to because of the high altitude elevation.
The 13-mile trail is fairly challenging but can be done year-round. As a result, consider taking your snowmobile or cross-country skies during the winter!
Directions to Iva Bell Hot Springs
From the town of Mammoth Lakes, take CA 203 west towards Devils Postpile National Monument and Red’s Meadow Campground. From there take the Rainbow Falls trail for 8-miles to Fish Creek Valley. Cross the bridge and continue upstream for 4-miles until you make a left turn at Fish Valley.
Jordan Hot Springs – Golden Trout Wilderness, Ca
Hot water springs have been dammed off to form small pools off the Ninemile Creek in the southern Golden Trout Wilderness. This hike can be done in a day, but why when you could certainly backpack with no difficulties?
Volunteers have constructed multiple pools allowing for numerous soaking opportunities. Pick your temperature and soak until you prune! Another great hidden natural healing hot springs in northern California with a fantastic wilderness view.
Directions to Jordan Hot Springs
The best-paved road access is from US 395 just south of Little Lake. The trail starts at the Blackrock Station and heads straight down a deep canyon with a steep elevation change of 3,000 vertical feet.
Kern Hot Spring – Sequoia, Ca
A small concrete tub offering a magnificent view is positioned on the waters edge of the upper Kern River. This is an extremely remote location and definitely remains one of the most hidden natural healing hot springs in California.
The hot spring is located in the vast wilderness area in the Sequoia National Park off of the 70-mile long High Sierra Trail. My husband and I backpacked the first 20-miles of the trail before turning around and heading back to our car. We plan to make the entire journey over the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Directions to Kern Hot Spring
This is a rigorous backcountry journey. As previously mentioned, the spring is halfway along the High Sierra Trail, which spans across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Located about 32-miles west of Whitney Portal and 37-miles east of Crescent Meadows in a one-mile deep canyon. Enjoy the journey!
Hidden Natural Healing Hot Springs In Southern California
Don’t think that all of the best hot springs are located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. There are also some amazing hidden natural healing hot springs in southern California! Have fun exploring these natural wonders!
Sespe Hot Springs – Sespe Wilderness, Ca
A remote, pristine hot river boils out of the side of a desert mountain. Located within the designated Sespe condor sanctuary wilderness area, this site is a must see hidden natural healing hot springs in southern California.
The hot water flows from the source down a rocky channel until it cools to bath able temperatures about .5-mile away. We have backpacked in 3 separate times already and are planning our next visit shortly. The location provides rare peace and quite because of its remote location.
Directions to Sespe Hot Springs
These trails are fairly difficult day hikes, and it’s recommended to consider at least spending one night in the backcountry. There are 2 routes that we have taken.
One trail starts at Piedra Blanca Trailhead outside of Ojai. The trail is about 18 miles each way and passes by Willett’s Hot Springs, which is another must see site along the way.
The second trail begins at Mutau Flats Trailhead outside of Frazier Park. The Johnson Ridge trail takes a steep 8-mile decent down an exposed ridgeline towards the hot spring canyon.
Remember, what goes down, must go back up. Both are strenuous, but well worth the journey!
Willett’s Hot Spring – Sespe Wilderness, Ca
Directions to Willet Hot Spring
If you’re taking the journey from Piedra Blanca Trailhead, I highly recommend you stop by Willett’s Hot Spring. Rumor has it that this gigantic tub was hoisted up onto the cliffs edge by a helicopter. It’s a worthwhile stop along the route to the Sespe hot springs.
Deep Creek – Hesperia, Ca
Source: Ly L.
These are beautiful, remote, year-round hot springs on the southern bank of Deep Creek. Water flows from several rock fissures into a few volunteer-built rock and sandbag pools. The pool temperatures vary based on how much creek water is let in at that time.
Clothing is optional, but because of its remote location, I recall a large majority of nude bathers. We visited during our honeymoon, and still reminisce about the majestic beauty of the location.
Directions to Deep Creek Hot Springs
There are 2 routes to drive towards the hot springs, both requiring a hike. We entered Deep Creek from Bowen Ranch, which is a privately owned ranch that charges for access to park and camp overnight.
To reach the ranch, take the Hesperia exit off I-15. Continue for 8-miles and bear left at Rock Spring Rd. Drive for 4-miles and this road will eventually turn into Roundup, the last 1.5 miles are unpaved. Turn right (south) on the unpaved Bowen Ranch Rd. and drive for 5-miles to the ranch. Pay the entrance fee and park there. The hike down to the creek is 2-miles. During the spring runoff, the creek crossing is dangerous and is not recommended!
To reach the year-round trail take the same Hesperia exit off I-15 toward Deep Creek Rd. Turn right (south) for 5-miles until the pavement ends. Cross the open space and park next to the earthen dam on the southeast end of the overflow ramp. Follow the paved service road and look for the rusty tin sign marking the trailhead. The trail hugs the side of the mountain for 6-miles until you reach the hot springs. There is no dangerous river crossing, so this trail is much safer!
In addition, the hot springs are located off the Pacific Crest Trail if you’re looking for a challenge.
Tecopa Mud Baths – Tecopa, Ca
A collection of springs feed this large pond in the middle of the open desert. The pond contains a rich clay-mud bottom and sides in which some visitors enjoy lathering over their skin. The pond is murky because of the mineral sediments found in the clay-mud.
Considering the amount of traffic that passes from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, this hot spring is not as busy as it could be. I’ve visited a number of times and this could be one of my favorite hidden natural healing hot springs in southern California.
We celebrated New Years Eve in 2018 by watching the sun set over the vast desert at the same time the full moon was rising. Furthermore, we started the New Year by soaking early in the morning as the full moon was setting and the sun rose above the horizon. We are so blessed and absolutely love this life!
Directions to Tecopa Mud Baths
Locate the small town of Tecopa south east of Death Valley. The mud baths are 1 mile north of the town on Tecopa Hot Springs Rd. Park off to the side of the road and locate the short trail leading to the mud baths.
Saline Valley Hot Springs – Death Valley, Ca
Crowded on major holidays and three-day weekends, this spring-fed oasis is in the remote desert of Death Valley National Park. Open year-round, but access to the springs may be impassable due to heavy rains or snowstorms. Make sure to bring extra water, supplies and car repair tools if necessary.
Volunteers have built rock and cement pools for multiple soaking temperatures options. The Park Service installed vault toilets, and overnight camping is permitted; the camping limit is thirty days per year for the entire park.
Wintertime can yield flash flooding across the access roads, and summertime temperatures can exceed 110-degrees F. The best time to visit is spring and fall.
Directions to Saline Valley Hot Springs
The roads are quite rough, 4-wheel drive high-clearance vehicles are recommended. From the town Big Pine on US 395, head southeast for 15-miles on Death Valley Road. Turn right onto Waucoba-Saline Rd and drive 32-miles to a fork in the road. Turn left and head another 7-miles to the first group of hot springs.
The hot springs are 55-miles from Big Pine and 85-miles from Olancha and Lone Pine. Expect it to be over 3-hours each direction to the main highway; definitely a top-secret hidden natural healing hot springs in southern California. Prepare ahead and fully stock with necessary supplies for the long journey.
Little Caliente Hot Springs – Santa Barbra, Ca
A handful of volunteer-built pools have been constructed in a rocky canyon alongside an unpaved Forest Service road. The tubs are positioned on a hillside and overflow into the lower pools, which allows for cooler temperatures.
Directions to Little Caliente Hot Springs
Keep in mind that the hot springs are located over 25-miles from all services. There are over 15-miles of wooded, winding and unpaved roads. Make sure your vehicle is tip-top shape before making the bumpy off-road journey. Before leaving, check for backcountry road closures with the Los Padres National Forest Ranger Station.
From Hwy 101 in Santa Barbra, head east on Milpas St. and drive through a residential neighborhood for 6-miles to the end. Turn left onto Stanwood Dr. for 1-mile to El Cielito Rd. Continue for 1-mile and then turn right and follow Gibraltar for about 6.5-miles to the end. Turn right onto the very windy at El Camino Cielo, a paved for 7 miles, then becomes a dirt road. Follow the road to Juncal Campground and turn left on 5N15 and continue for 3 miles until the road forks.
From this split in the road, take the left fork for 5-miles to reach Little Caliente and the right fork for 3-miles to reach Big Caliente.
Big Caliente Hot Spring – Santa Barbra, Ca
Directions to Big Caliente Hot Spring
If you made the off-road trek this far, might as well make it over to visit Big Caliente hot spring. Only a few miles away, it’s worth stopping by for a quick dip underneath the cottonwood trees and lunch at the picnic table. While you’re at it, take a soak in the cold creek, which contains a few small waterfalls and several small sunning beaches if the warm weather is on your side.
Hidden natural healing hot springs in California changed my perspective on life and drastically opened me up to many more powers greater than myself. I have met very interesting people at all of the locations and the natural beauty continues to amaze me!
There are plenty of more sites to be explored, but not all of them make it on this hidden natural healing hot springs in California bucket list. I have visited almost all of the hot springs on this short list, and plan trips to the others in the very near future.
A majority of the hidden natural healing hot springs in California are in remote areas, and require all day road trips, 4-wheel drive vehicles, snow mobiles or many miles of hiking and backpacking. Take all necessary precautions and also be safe out there.
Enjoy all of these hidden natural healing hot springs in California with tremendous respect towards the powers of Mother Nature. Please remember to leave no trace and pack out what you bring along. It’s important to leave the sites cleaner than we found them so that they may continue to be shared with others in the future.
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