Take a Dip in These Northern California Hot Springs
Ahhhhh, it’s finally fall. And with fall comes cooler weather and the overwhelming inclination to cozy up. While snuggly blankets and hot tea are great, sometimes you just need to take it outdoors. And what’s more relaxing than a dip in a hot tub? A dip in a hot tub fed by natural spring water! The Sacramento area is surrounded by geothermal areas loaded with spots where you can bask in mineral-rich, geothermally heated spring water. Not only are these hot springs great at soothing muscles, they are also said to improve circulation, detoxify, and boost your immune system.
Loaded with naturally occurring minerals, geothermal water has been used for thousands of years to sooth the body and ease health conditions. From the communal onsen of Japan to the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, hot springs are popular the world over. Even our non-human counterparts use hot springs, including the “snow monkeys” of Northern Japan, who bathe in geothermal pools to reduce stress!
Closer to home, there are plenty of spots where you can take the waters. Some springs are located in pristine, natural areas, while others have entire resorts built around them for the ultimate in luxury! Many have pools of varying temperatures, and others offer private pools. Some even offer clothing-optional opportunities. Following are some of the most popular hot springs throughout Northern California.
Note: This post was updated in September, 2021. At the time of posting, all of the following facilities were open. However, many have implemented requirements with regards to Covid-19, including, but not limited to, reduced capacity, mask mandates, reservations, and proof of vaccination and/or negative test results. Check the individual websites for the latest information.
Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort | Calistoga
The city of Calistoga at the tip of the Napa Valley is a major hub for hot springs spas, including the luxurious and relaxing Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort. Thankfully, a stay at this resort means you’re within close proximity of all the amazing wineries and attractions in this region saturated with vineyards. The Calistoga area has been a hot springs destination for more than 150 years, as it was considered a place of healing called “Coo-lay-no-maock,” or “the oven place” by the local Wappo tribe. Golden Haven Hot Springs remains a place of healing to this day, as you can relax in the hot springs water in the spa sourced from the geothermal aquifer running underneath. The hot springs water emerges from the earth at approximately 150 degrees, is then cooled, and is distributed to their serene mineral pools and mud baths.
Sierra Hot Springs | Sierraville
Head to the enchanting town of Sierraville for a relaxing retreat at Sierra Hot Springs, a non-profit resort and retreat center. With several hot springs pool options available, this is the ultimate destination for rejuvenation, relaxation and restoration. One of the main attractions is “The Hot Pool,” located in an enclosed geodesic temple dome with stained glass and skylights. This 105–110 degree pool has sand on the bottom and mosaic tile along the sides. You’ll find the large “Warm Pool” outside the dome, in addition to a sundeck. Seasonal pools at Sierra Hot Springs include “The Meditation Pool,” an outdoor faux natural pool surrounded by rock tile, and the “Phoenix Baths” located inside private rooms. Whichever pool you visit, you’re sure to be swept away by your picturesque surroundings and the water’s healing abilities. Note: All pools are clothing optional.
Vichy Springs | Ukiah
Vichy Springs in Ukiah is a hot springs resort that’s founded in 1854, featuring mineral baths and Olympic-sized pools in a historic setting. Relax in a private room or cottage for an extended stay, unwind in one of their carbonated “Vichy” mineral baths, and explore the resort’s 700 private acres by foot. Along with various pool options, guests are drawn to the Vichy Baths, 90 degree-baths filled with water sourced from 30,000 feet below the earth’s surface. These 14 baths are said to have powerful healing abilities, as a 30-minute soak can leave your skin refreshed and your mind at ease.
Wilbur Hot Springs | Wilbur Springs
Wilbur Hot Springs is one of the best hot springs destinations in Northern California — and perhaps the entire country. This off-the-grid, solar-powered resort hosts naturally occurring hot mineral springs in the heart of an 1,800-acre nature preserve. The solitude and natural beauty of this location allows you to escape from reality as you experience the healing waters of their mineral pools. It’s the water in these pools that truly sets Wilbur Hot Springs apart, as the geothermal water contains three ounces of dissolved minerals per gallon and remains undiluted, untreated and unheated. The concentrated salt solution allows your skin to absorb the beneficial minerals, leaving your body silky smooth and full of life. There are also miles of hiking trails throughout the property. Note: All pools are clothing optional, and reservations are required.
Orr Hot Springs Resort | Ukiah
Orr Hot Springs Resort is a small and secluded resort offering an unparalleled hot springs experience in its breathtaking 27 acres of land at the headwaters of Big River. The lodge and several of the cabins were constructed in the early 1930s, adding an authentic and historic feel to this resort that beautifully preserves the charm of that period. You’ll find graceful rivers, cozy cottages and yurts, refreshing plant life, and lots of baths on the property. The bathhouse hosts seven Victorian porcelain tubs, five of which are in private rooms, and two of which are located on the bathhouse deck, called their “Stargazing” tubs. After soaking in these tubs, bathers travel to one of the two communal tubs under a covered roof or outside in the elements. These hot baths feature mineral waters at approximately 106 degrees, filled with naturally occurring minerals to create a healthy and rejuvenating experience. Note: this is a clothing optional resort.
Travertine Hot Springs | Bridgeport
Soaking in the hot waters of Travertine Hot Springs is a Northern California must-do, as the picturesque mountain surroundings, beautiful rock formations, and natural setting make the scene unforgettable. While this is a popular activity during the winter, be aware that access roads to the springs may be closed due to snowy conditions. Or consider visiting during the warmer months to ensure an uneventful road trip to this picturesque location. Visit the five rustic tubs with unique travertine mineral formations that are open to the public and accessible off Highway 395 near Bridgeport.
Benton Hot Springs | Benton
Nearby Benton Hot Springs is another Mono County hotspot. The Inn at Benton Hot Springs features 12 campsites, each with their own private hot tub beneath the stars! If camping isn’t your jam, no worries, you can dunk in the hot tubs at the inn itself. Located in a 1940s building, the inn has a western vibe, with quirky, eclectic decor. Semi-private hot tubs in a garden setting let you sooth away your stress, especially after a day of hiking, biking or exploring the old mining town.
Mercey Hot Springs | Firebaugh
Mercey Hot Springs is the perfect destination to experience tranquility and rest, with its abundance of geothermal hot tubs, an outdoor pool, and surrounding hiking trails. Spend the night at this comfortable and inviting resort, where you can stay in their facilities or choose to camp onsite. Mercey Hot Springs attracts those from all walks of life, including families with kids, couples, and younger and older folks alike. Escape from it all in this hot springs oasis tucked away in an idyllic natural setting.