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20 Best Northern California Hot Springs

20 Best Northern California Hot Springs

Northern California is home to an abundance of serene and soothing hot springs. You can bathe in open air natural hot springs surrounded by snow capped mountains, or relax in elegant commercialized mineral pools found within wellness and spa retreats.

But which pools and springs should you visit?

This is exactly what we will show you in this comprehensive guide to the most sought after hot springs in northern California.

We will cover:

  • The different types of hot springs
  • The 20 best northern California hot springs
  • Where to find each northern California hot spring
  • Specific details about each individual hot spring
  • What you can expect when you visit
  • Hot spring etiquette

Let’s explore the very best northern California hot springs!

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Table of Contents show

What Are The Different Types Of Hot Springs?

There are three main types of hot springs ranging from natural springs to man-made mineral pools. Some hot springs are very remote while some hot springs offer a more commercialized large pool experience.

But each hot spring is unique and there is no right or wrong way to enjoy a hot spring. It all just comes down to personal preference.

  • Natural Hot Spring – This is our favorite kind of hot spring because it is naturally occuring. These natural springs are basically hot holes in the ground. They are rustic, raw, very rural and the best part is they are usually free.
  • Hot Spring Tubs – A hot spring tub is typically a small wooden or concrete tub which is fed by the naturally occuring hot spring. These tubs can be considered a hybrid model because they are partially man-made.
  • Mineral Pools – Many of the resorts discussed later on this list are man-made mineral pools. These large pools are typically found within a hotel setting and often require a hefty entrance fee.

After visiting many hot springs throughout the world including an Onsen in Japan, we tend to prefer natural hot springs. We love the primitive setting and discovered this is where we can truly relax.

Natural hot springs are generally found outdoors with an epic view to pair with it. Sometimes natural hot springs require a long hike, are usually clothing optional and often free of charge.

view of road with mountains in background

Where Are The Hot Springs In Northern California?

The best region of California to find natural hot springs is east of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. Here, you will find many primitive hot springs with breathtaking views of surrounding landscapes.

However, the entire state of California is a hot spot for hot springs (pun intended)! While northern California boasts the majority of the natural hot springs, southern California showcases more developed hot springs.

But let’s take a look at California’s geography quickly so you know exactly where we are talking about.

Where Is Northern California?

Northern California, or NorCal, is home to the 48 counties in the northernmost section of the Golden State. This northern region includes cities such as San Francisco Bay, Sacramento and Fresno.

But northern California also includes epic topography such as the Redwood Forests, Mount Shasta, the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite Valley, sections of Lake Tahoe and some of the Central Valley.

It should come as no surprise the stunning landscapes listed above are home to California’s beautiful and natural hot springs. These hot springs are warmed with geothermal heat from the earth’s interior.

Where Is Southern California?

Southern California, or SoCal, is divided into ten counties. These counties include Los Angeles, Imperial, Kern, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Ventura.

SoCal is a built up urban area stretching from the Pacific Coast of the United States through Los Angeles down to San Diego. The hot springs in Southern California are typically more of the developed mineral pool type.

Northern California Hot Springs Map

Our Northern California hot spring guide will focus on the hot springs in the northern regions of California. Here is a link to our Northern California hot springs map for exact locations.

When we first set out to bath in as many northern California hot springs as possible, we didn’t know how many beautiful hot springs California actually had.

This blog post will be a work in progress as we continue to re-visit California and check more of these gorgeous hot springs off our bucket list.

woman bathing in wild willy's hot spring

20 Best Hot Springs In Northern California (Separated By Area)

Unless you are driving a multi-week California road trip, these hot springs will be difficult to visit all in one go.

However, the good news is these hot springs are clustered in a handful of areas so you can easily incorporate certain groups of springs into your vacation to California.

We have broken down our Northern California hot spring list by area:

  • Bridgeport Hot Springs
  • Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs
  • Carmel Valley and Big Sur Hot Springs
  • Calistoga Hot Springs
  • Hot Springs Northwest of Sacramento
  • Hot Springs North of Lake Tahoe

You can even check off a few hot springs if you are driving from Las Vegas to Death Valley and then on to Yosemite National Park, as you will pass by Mammoth Lakes.

Bridgeport Northern California Hot Springs

Bridgeport California features the back bone of the Sawtooth Sierra Mountain range making it a popular recreational playground. It lies north of Mammoth Lakes and south of Lake Tahoe.

Bridgeport is a great area for outdoor adventurers and hikers. It provides access to the Sierra canyons, peaks, lakes and of course, hot springs.

1. Travertine Hot Springs – Bridgeport, CA

woman in robe and hat at Travertine hot spring in northern california
  • Type: Natural hot spring with some man-made portions
  • Location: About 2.0 miles southeast of Bridgeport (off Jack Sawyer Road)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Many different pools, closest hot springs to Yosemite National Park
  • Services: Drop toilet
  • Temperature: Varies depending on pool

Travertine hot springs is a primitive natural hot spring located close to Yosemite National Park near the town of Bridgeport. It features both rustic natural pools and one ADA-accessible tub located very close to the parking lot.

As you sit in the pools at Travertine hot springs, you are treated to an epic view of the eastern Sierra Nevada’s. Unfortunately, Travertine hot springs can get very busy because this location is easily accessible.

Read our complete guide to visiting Travertine Hot Springs for more information.

2. Buckeye Hot Springs – Bridgeport, CA

buckeye hot spring in northern california

Photo credit: Tripadvisor

  • Type: Natural hot spring
  • Location: About 10.0 miles southwest of Bridgeport (off Buckeye Road)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: 6 pools, thermal water cascade, camping nearby
  • Services: Drop toilet
  • Temperature: Varies based on pool, usually between 90°F-110°F

A visit to Buckeye hot springs will require a short hike down a fairly steep hill. As you climb down, you will find two natural hot tubs known as the Upper Pools. These are the warmest tubs in the area and both offer stunning views.

If you continue to down the path to Buckeye Creek, there are 4 more semi-natural pools created with man-made walls to contain the hot water.

Mammoth Lakes Northern California Hot Springs

Mammoth Lakes is located along scenic Highway 395 which connects Death Valley, Yosemite National Park, the Alabama Hills and even Lake Tahoe. It is a beautiful drive we can not recommend enough.

The closest airport is Mammoth Yosemite Airport, but this is a very small hub. You could fly into larger airports such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or Las Vegas.

Each of these larger cities would be about a 5 to 6 hour drive to the Mammoth Lakes hot springs depending on your starting point.

The hot springs in Mammoth Lakes all feature extremely impressive mountain views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada range. These springs are treasured by both locals and tourists so they can get very busy.

Most of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes are man made tubs, with the exception of Wild Willy’s which is a collection of many natural hot springs.

3. Shepard Hot Springs – Mammoth Lakes, CA

shepard hot spring in northern california
  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: Off Whitmore Tubs Road (about 15 mi east of Mammoth Lakes)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Single tub, fits 4 people
  • Services: None
  • Temperature: Controlled by a valve, variable but about 100°F

Shepard Springs is a lone cement pool which is built very close to the warm water source. An pipe directs hot water from the source directly into the tub and the temperature can be adjusted accordingly from the valve on the pipe.

This hot spring is usually one of the busiest in Mammoth Lakes because it is easy to find. Unlike the other hot springs in the area which require some searching on unmarked dirt roads, Shepard Springs is located right next to the dirt parking lot.

4. Crab Cooker Hot Spring – Mammoth Lakes, CA

Drone shot of woman bathing in crab cooker hot spring
  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: Off Benton Crossing Rd (about 15 mi east of Mammoth Lakes)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Fits up to 6 people, very hot
  • Services: None
  • Temperature: Controlled by a valve, 100°F – 110°F (but usually more on the hotter side)

Crab cooker hot spring is named appropriately because this one is hot! Similar to many of the springs in mammoth lakes, this hot spring is fed with a pipe from the original source. The temperature can then be adjusted with a valve.

When we first arrived to crab cooker hot spring, the water was so hot we could not comfortably get into the tub. We had to let the temperature of the water cool before we could even get a toe in!

So in conclusion, be very careful with the crab cooker!

Read our complete guide to visiting Crab Cooker Hot Spring for more details.

5. Hilltop Hot Spring (Pulky’s Pool) – Mammoth Lakes, CA

woman bathing in hilltop hot spring in northern california
  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: Off Benton Crossing Road (about 15 mi east of Mammoth Lakes)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Fits about 4-6 people, man-made
  • Services: None
  • Temperature: Controlled by a valve, 100°F – 110°F (usually a bit on the cooler side)

Hilltop hot spring is sometimes known as Pulky’s Pool. This tub is located very close to the parking lot off Benton Crossings Road. But unfortunately this hot spring can also be very crowded because of its easy access.

A small half mile hike is required to reach Hilltop hot spring from the parking lot. But this one is easily our favorite because of the views. Soaking in hilltop hot spring is pretty much postcard perfect.

Read our complete guide to visiting Hilltop Hot Springs for more details.

6. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (Crowley Hot Spring) – Mammoth Lakes, CA

man walking down boardwalk with mountains in background
  • Type: Natural hot spring
  • Location: Off Benton Crossing Road (15 mi east of Mammoth Lakes)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Fits 20+ people in 4 pools
  • Services: Drop toilets
  • Temperature: Variable depending on the pool, 100°F +

Wild Willy’s hot spring is the most unique hot spring near Mammoth Lakes in our option. All hot springs here are natural pools with incredible views of the Sierra Nevadas.

There is a parking lot at the end of the dirt road with dump toilets. From here, you will have a short 0.25 mi hike down a boardwalk to reach the hot springs.

At the end of the boardwalk, there is a tiered hot stream with two different pools. There are two further pools to the left in the distance if you really want to get away from the crowds.

Read our complete guide to visiting Wild Willy’s Hot Spring for all the details.

Where To Stay In Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is a gorgeous ski resort town with traditional Alpine lodges. We have stayed in Mammoth Lakes several times now and have always enjoyed our visit.

We would recommend staying in this cute town if you are driving to Yosemite from Las Vegas, Death Valley or anywhere else Southeast of the park.

Here are the best hotels by guest rating, price and location in Mammoth Lakes:

Carmel Valley and Big Sur Northern California Hot Springs

Big Sur is an extremely beautiful section of California coastline stretching from Carmel to San Simeon. This is certainly one of the most popular sections along the California Pacific Coast Highway.

It is even sometimes referred to as the longest and most undeveloped coastline in the United States. So there is no wonder why this area is a treasure trove for gorgeous hiking trails and hidden hot springs.

7. Tassajara Zen Mountain Center – Carmel Valley, CA

Japanese hot springs in northern California

Photo credit: Monterey Herald

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: 14 miles up a winding one lane dirt road off Tassajara Road (two hours southeast of Carmel)
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Day use rate $35 for adults & $15 for children
  • Open: Guests in summer only (Apr-Sep)
  • Clothing: Optional in the bathhouse but appropriate attire required in public
  • Features: Traditional Japanese-style bathhouse
  • Services: Bathhouse, mediation, hiking trails, vegetarian meals, yoga, Buddhism retreats, accommodation

The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is located in an extremely remote section of the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest inland from Big Sur. It is the first Soto Zen Monastery established outside of Asia.

From April to September, outside guests can reserve day and/or overnight use. This includes access to natural hot springs, vegetarian meals, yoga retreats, hiking trails and so much more.

For more information, visit the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center website.

8. Esalen Institute – Big Sur, CA

Photo credit: San Francisco Chronicle

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: about 15 miles south of Big Sur
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Accommodation or volunteer only (see below)
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Seven man-made tubs
  • Services: Mineral baths, whale watching, massage, bookstore, yoga, accommodation

Esalen was founded in 1962 as a spiritual retreat. This 27-acre institute enhances the stunning cliffs of Big Sur while promoting integrations of the body, mind, spirit, heart and community.

Unfortunately Esalen does not currently offer day use for hot springs and the night bathing program has been suspended due to covid-19.

Access to the mineral baths is only available through the volunteer program or by booking accommodation.

For more information, visit the Esalen Institute website.

9. Skyes Hot Spring – Big Sur, CA

Photo credit: Natural Atlas

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: Nestled in the Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Free
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: 10 mile hike one-way, 4 river crossings, small tub that fits about 2 people
  • Services: Camping

If you are up for a challenge, this is the hot spring for you! Sykes hot spring requires a 20 mile strenuous out and back hike with about 4,000 ft of elevation gain. It is one of the most popular backcountry northern California hot springs.

After reopening in April 2021, this hot spring had been closed for about 5 years due to over capacity and natural disasters. While there are 7 campsites located by Sykes hot spring, space may be extremely limited.

Calistoga Northern California Hot Springs

Calistoga has put itself on the map as a wellness retreat filled with hot springs, mineral pools, mud baths and wineries. It is situated at the north end of Napa Valley. These hot springs are catered to resort types.

The hot springs in Calistoga, CA are often referred to as mineral springs because this town sits on a geothermal mineral field. Extinct volcanoes located in northern California feed the hot springs in the area which are said to have natural healing properties.

10. Calistoga Spa Hot Spring – Calistoga, CA

Photo credit: calistogaspa.com

  • Type: Mineral pool
  • Location: Calistoga along Lincoln Ave
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Varies based on service
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Required in public areas
  • Features: Mineral pools and mud baths
  • Services: Massage, yoga, accommodation
  • Temperature: 4 mineral pools ranging from 80°F – 104°F

Calistoga spa hot springs offers four geothermal mineral pools ranging in temperature from 80°F to 104°F. However, additional services include massages, volcanic ash mud baths, steam rooms and accomodation.

The large 80°F lap pool is a perfect place to take in the beautiful mountain views while the 104°F whirlpool is a great option after a massage or volcanic mud bath.

For more information, visit the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs website.

11. Roman Spa Hot Spring Resort – Calistoga, CA

Photo credit: visitnapavalley.com

  • Type: Mineral pool
  • Location: Calistoga along Lincoln Ave
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Varies based on service
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Required in public areas
  • Features: Mineral pools and mud baths
  • Services: Massage, yoga, accomodation, relaxation room
  • Temperature: 3 mineral pools ranging from 92°F – 104°F

Roman Spa hot spring offers 3 different mineral pools with ranging temperatures of 92°F to 104°F. Additional services include a complete spa menu with aromatherapy and mud baths said to offer natural healing properties.

The resort features Tuscan-style accommodation with beautiful flowering mediterranean gardens, private patios and splashing fountains. Private suites include Roman spa-like bathrooms decorated in stone and mosaic tile.

For more information, visit the Roman Spa Hot Spring Resort website.

12. Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Spring – Calistoga, CA

Photo credit: hotspringsofamerica.com

  • Type: Mineral pool
  • Location: Calistoga along Lincoln Ave
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Varies based on service
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Required in public areas
  • Features: Mineral pools and mud baths
  • Services: Body services, hydrotherapy, massages, yoga, accomodation
  • Temperature: 3 mineral pools ranging from 75°F – 104°F

Dr, Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Spring features a funky retro style with minimalist modern upgrades. They offer 3 mineral pools ranging in temperature along with a complete menu of spa services.

There are two outdoor minterl pools, a hot tub filled with mineral water, a sundeck, steam rooms and mud baths. Additional amenities include weekend brunch and wine night.

For more information, visit Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort and Mineral Spring website.

13. Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa – Calistoga, CA

Photo credit: Hotels.com

  • Type: Mineral pool
  • Location: Calistoga along Lincoln Ave
  • Parking: Google map location
  • Price: Varies based on service
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Required in public areas
  • Features: Mineral pools, wading pool and relaxation rooms
  • Services: Massages, dining, accomodation

Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa stands out on this list with it chic 1950’s vibe. It features an outdoor lap pool, a wading pool and an indoor whirlpool each fed by the natural mineral spring.

Another highlight of the property is the MoonAcre Bath. This bath features geothermal water, a beautiful contemporary design, lavish spa garden and indoor relaxation rooms.

For more information, visit Calistoga Motor Lodge and Spa.

Northern California Hot Springs Northwest Of Sacramento

14. Harbin Hot Spring – Middletown, CA

Photo credit: harbin.org

  • Type: Mineral pool
  • Location: About 4.0 mi from Middletown down Harbin Springs Rd (about 2 hrs northwest of Sacramento)
  • Parking: Google Map location
  • Price: 6 hour day visit $33 per adult (mon-thu), $45 (fri-sun) with additional services available
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Mainside pool with eight additional pools
  • Services: Sundeck, sauna, changing area, showers, restroom
  • Temperature: Varying from cold plunge pool to hot pools

The main attraction at Harbin Hot Springs is the variation of hot, warm and cold mineral pools. Each individual pool is fed by a different spring located directly on the property.

Numerous pools with varying temperatures make Harbin’s the perfect hot spring experience for the entire family. Popular pools include a warm pool, hot pool and a cold plunge pool. The mainside pool is ADA-accessible.

Are you looking to try something new? Try the Trellis hot or cold plunge. Or take a dip in the heart pool or health services pool.

For more information, visit the Harbin Hot Springs website.

15. Wilbur Hot Springs – Williams, CA

Photo credit: wilburhotsprings.com

  • Type: Mineral pool and hot spring tubs
  • Location: About 30 mi west of Williams (1 hr 30 mins northwest of Sacramento)
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: Day use $59 on weekdays and $65 on weekends, additional services available
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional in baths but required in public
  • Features: Japanese onsen-style Fluminarium
  • Services: Community kitchen, massage, accomodation, dry sauna
  • Temperature: 3 long flumes ranging from 100°F – 109°F

This highlight of Wilbur’s hot springs is the natural mineral spring water. The hot springs are historically rumoured to hold healing properties which has made Wilbur’s popular for centuries.

Three long flumes with an average temperature of 100°F, 105°F and 109°F are the main attractions. However, Wilbur’s also offers a spring-fed swimming pool, an outdoor mineral flume, a dry sauna and a cold plunge pool.

The large swimming pool is a popular feature. In the summer, this pool is chlorinated and kept at a cooler temperature. In the winter, this pool is non-chlorinated and heated with geothermal water.

For more information, visit the Wilbur Hot Spring website.

16. Vichy Springs Resort and Inn – Ukiah, CA

Photo credit: latimes.com

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: 5.0 mi from Ukiah (2 hrs 40 mins norwest of Sacramento)
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: $35/2 hrs, $50/3 hrs, $75/person all day (Oct-Apr)
  • Open: Year-round with limited hours depending on the time of year
  • Clothing: Required
  • Features: Mineral baths, hot pool, plunge pool, Chemisal Falls pool (30 min hike to waterfall)
  • Services: Accomodation, hiking trails, meeting spaces
  • Temperature: Pool and baths ranging from 90°F – 104°F

Vichy Springs was established in 1854 making this the most historic northern California hot spring on our list. This property is a hot spring resort combined with a country inn featuring several rooms and cottages.

The naturally carbonated Vichy mineral baths have been in use for over 150 years. The water flows into the baths from 30,000 ft below from the adjacent spring source. Fourteen Vichy tubs are available with 4 located outside and 10 inside.

An olympic sized heated swimming pool is open seasonally from May to October. It is a non-chlorinated pool using hot pool ozone technology and bromine.

For more information, visit the Vichy Springs website.

17. Orr Hot Springs Resort – Ukiah, CA

Photo credit: orrhotsprings.com

  • Type: Mineral pool and hot spring tub
  • Location: 30 mi from Ukiah (3 hrs northwest of Sacramento)
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: Day use is $50/person and reservations are required
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Covered tub, outdoor tub, pool and trilby spring
  • Services: Communal kitchen, hiking, accomodation, dry sauna, steam room, massages

Orr Hot Spring resort is a natural mineral hot spring located on 27 beautiful acres in Mendocino County. It is situated very close to the Montgomery Woods State Reserve.

This hot spring resort offers everything you need for a very relaxing stay including a communal kitchen and massages. Don’t miss the numerous soaking pools and sun deck.

For more information, visit the Orr Hot Spring website.

Northern California Hot Springs North Of Lake Tahoe

18. Sierra Hot Springs Resort & Retreat Center – Sierraville, CA

Photo credit: sierrahotsprings.org

  • Type: Mineral pool and hot spring tub
  • Location: 1 hr north of Incline Village
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: Day use $30/person (thurs-sun)
  • Open: Wednesday-sunday year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Hot pool, warm pool and mediation pool
  • Services: Mineral pools, hiking, biking, workshops, dry sauna, sun deck
  • Temperature: Multiple pools ranging from 98°F – 100°F

Sierra Hot Spring has been a popular hot spring resort for almost 150 years. It borders 700 acres of National Forest land giving you immediate access to enchanted forests and gorgeous alpine valley views.

The Temple Dome contains the main pool area enclosed in a large geodesic dome featuring stained glass, skylights and two plunge pools. Outside the large warm pool offers guests a sundeck and a dry sauna.

For more information, visit the Sierra Hot Springs Resort website.

19. Feather River Hot Spring – Twain, CA

Photo credit: featherriverhotsprings.com

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: About 3.0 miles east of Twain (2 hrs north of Incline Village)
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: $20/person for 2 hr soak (non-member)
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Required during daylight hours
  • Features: 2 natural sulfur hot springs
  • Services: None currently but cabins and camping available nearby
  • Temperature: 99°F – 104°F

Since the late 1930’s, Feather River Hot Springs has been welcoming people to enjoy the healing waters. Two cement tubs sit very close to the Feather River for the ultimate natural hot spring experience.

Feather River does not allow drop-ins and reservations are required. Three cabins available for rent along with nearby camping options.

20. Surprise Valley Hot Spring – Cedarville, CA

Photo credit: sierranevadageotourism.com

  • Type: Hot spring tub
  • Location: About 5.0 mi east of Cedarville (1 hr north of Incline Village)
  • Parking: Google maps location
  • Price: Varies as all accomodation features your own private hot spring tub
  • Open: Year-round
  • Clothing: Optional
  • Features: Private hot spring tub
  • Services: Standard rooms, deluxe rooms and suites available

Surprise Valley Hot Springs offers you an opportunity to soak in your own private hot springs tub. It is nestled in the remote high valley desert bordered by the Warner Mountains and Nevada’s Hays Range.

Each room has a standard kitchenette with everything you need for a relaxing intimate getaway. Keep in mind, this resort is only 21 years and older with no internet so plan accordingly.

Are The Northern California Hot Springs Worth Visiting?

Yes, the Northern California Hot Springs are worth visiting! These natural hot springs make for one of the most beautiful settings on the West Coast.

When we visited the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes, we decided to make an entire day out of it. We put on our swimsuits and robes, and spent the entire day visiting hot springs along our route.

To this day, it has been one of our most memorable days road tripping around the United States.

Hilltop hot spring with woman bathing

Natural Hot Spring Etiquette

It is your responsibility to care for these precious resources any time you visit a hot spring. Here are a few etiquette tips to keep in mind for your visit.

  • Dispose of waste properly. Anything you pack in, you must pack back out. There is no garbage service in most of these natural locations. Please leave each hot spring in better condition than you found it.
  • Be considerate of other visitors. Hot springs are meant to be a relaxing experience. No one wants to share their soak with rowdy crowds and loud music.
  • Respect wildlife. Never feed or handle wildlife. The best way to keep wildlife protected is to secure food and trash properly. Dog owners are responsible for picking up after their pet.
  • Be welcoming and share. Hot springs are popular and everyone has a right to enjoy them. Be willing to share and be mindful if others are waiting for a spot to soak. Sharing is caring.
  • Plan ahead and prepare. Some of these hot springs require hikes and may be dangerous in certain weather conditions. Be sure to check fire, weather and trail conditions before heading out.
  • Respect privacy and modesty. Many of these hot springs are clothing optional. Cameras and photographs are not permitted in the bathing areas in most resorts and spas.

When Should You Visit The Northern California Hot Springs?

The best time to visit the northern California hot springs is in the Spring and Fall when temperatures are perfect for enjoying the warm water.

Access to many of these hot springs requires driving on unmaintained roads. These roads can become dangerous in the Winter with snow and ice, and excessive heat can cause car issues in Summer.

More California Guides

We hope this guide helps you find the best Northern California Hot Springs!

Please let us know if you have any questions about northern California Hot Springs or California in general in the comments below.

Happy Bathing,

Mark and Kristen

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