7 Must-Visit Hot Springs In California: An Abundance Of Minerals Amidst Diverse Landscapes

California is home to many hidden gems and treasures. It also happens to be a state with hot springs aplenty. It accommodates some of the best hot springs in the country: whether you’re looking for quaint or intimate, commercialized or free, you’ll find it all here. 

Our picks for the best hot springs in California include a diverse range to fit all personal interests and preferences. 

At this point, all you need to do is plan and use our article as your starting point. 

Most enthusiasts don’t need to be told twice; however, if you’re a first-timer, these are the hot springs that – we think – are most worthy of a visit.

1. Travertine Hot Springs

Californians already know the deal but if you’re a newbie, we’re delighted to be the first ones to introduce you to one of the biggest thermal treasures of the state known as Travertine Hot Springs.  

What To Expect

A collection of four thermal pools situated on an open valley, lined with mud and travertine. The springs are divided by round rocky walls and tucked around a small ridge which the thermal water flows along and then straight into the pools. All this creates a stunning picture. 

Travertine Hot Springs can reach a scalding 115-156°F, so be careful if visiting in sunny months.

Don’t Miss

The hidden pools scattered around the area only a short walk away from Travertine. These pools can serve as a great alternative if you find Travertine Hot Springs crowded.

Good To Know

To this day, Travertine Hot Springs serves as a spot for spiritual reminiscence for Indigenous Americans. 

The springs are clothing optional. 

They are extremely easy to reach. With its easy access comes popularity, and with that comes some potential inconveniences that visitors had better be mindful of, such as lack of privacy, nudity and sometimes even negligence towards hygiene etiquette. All this warrants stricter attention to the etiquette guidelines on the visitor’s part.  

You can find tips on how to avoid crowds here.

Address: Bridgeport, California, 93517, USA

Stunning picture of Travertine Hot Springs taken by Charles Whittaker on Flickr.

2. Slates (Esalen) Hot Springs

Imagine having a soak in thermal pools perched on a cliff and overlooking the mighty pacific ocean crashing into the rocky shores. That’s exactly what your visual will be at Slates Hot Springs, otherwise known as Esalen Institute.

What To Expect

You should expect a holistic, eco-friendly retreat with numerous soaking options hovering between 98-110°F. As mentioned, the amenity that steals the show is the layout of the springs, which creates some of the most picturesque views ever. You can partake in the institute’s self-help programs and workshops in order to fully reach your spiritual potential and detox from all things digital. Accommodation options are available.

Don’t Miss

The establishment has many additional amenities that you can take advantage of, such as an on-site restaurant, quiet and silent areas, hot tubs, an art farm and more.

Good To Know

If you decide to participate in the institute programs, you’ll be eligible for accommodation, three meals a day, and unrestricted access to the pools.

If you’re a non-member and wish to have a one-time visit to the springs, then you’ll have to visit at 1am-3am.

The establishment is clothing-optional and digital free.

Address: 55000 CA-1, Big Sur, California 93920

Beautiful layout of Slates Hot Springs captured by @vinyasaflowyoga on IG.

3. Buckeye Hot Springs

Buckeye is one of the most loved hot springs in eastern Cali, and offers a refreshing thermal dip among the beautiful landscapes of the Eastern Sierras.

What To Expect

You’ll find six pools of varying shapes and sizes with temperature ranging between 100-110°F, but don’t worry about the heat. Buckeye Creek flows alongside the pools so you can alternate between hot and cold soaks whenever the springs get too hot to handle. 

The main gem of Buckeye Hot Springs is its big grotto-like pool that creates a gorgeous environment to soak in: the water cascades along the algae covered boulder and then straight into the pool tucked at the base of said boulder.

Don’t Miss

Buckeye Hot Springs is also famous for the Buckeye Campground that’s located nearby and is one of the best camping sites in the area. It’s open from May to September and costs $20 a night.

Good To Know

Because of the Buckeye Campground the springs may get crowded from May-September.

Getting there requires a short hike (10-15 minutes). However, the trail is steep so be sure to wear appropriate footwear. 

This is a clothing-optional destination so expect nudity. 

Location: off the Buckeye road. 5.2 miles from Bridgeport, California.

Buckeye Hot Springs captured by @nicolasa77 on IG.

4. Harbin Hot Springs

Harbin Hot Springs is deemed to be one of the best hot springs in California for a reason. With its beautiful location (situated in the rich wine country) and totally stress-free environment, Harbin makes for a very memorable stay.

What To Expect

A lot of nudity. Let’s get it out of the way. This is the one thing you’ll find in almost every review or comment. Harbin Hot Springs represents a haven for anyone trying to rediscover their spirituality and connect with nature on a deeper level. That’s why a lot of people feel safe and confident in doing just that in their birthday suits. 

There you’ll find numerous soaking options, spa services and all necessary amenities fit for a commercialized resort. Overnight accommodation options are also available.

Don’t Miss

As the birthplace of this specific bodywork, be sure to check out Watsu – a type of bodywork that unites Shiatsu with Zen meditation.

You can also take advantage of their on-site café, different types of massages and yoga sessions.

Good To Know

This establishment is clothing-optional, eco-friendly and digital-free.

Address: 18424 Harbin Springs Rd, Middletown, CA 95461, USA

One of the outdoor soaking areas in Harbin Hot Springs. Source: harbin.org

5. Five Palms Hot Springs

Imagine a warm pool encircled by nearly two dozen palm trees located literally in the heart of the desert. Well, that image has a name and it’s Five Palms Hot Springs – an actual oasis in the Californian desert.

What To Expect

A spring consisting of one pool that boasts a solid 91°F, which is relatively cool for hot springs standards, making it a warm spring rather than a hot spring. The water consistently flows from a man-made pipe. The pool is knee-deep and can comfortably accommodate up to 4-5 people.

Don’t Miss

Five Palms is located a few miles from the Calcite Mine Trailhead, so if you’re the adventurous type, Five Palms can be a great reward after a long day of hiking.

Good To Know

This is an underdeveloped destination so there are no amenities available. 

Road conditions may be tricky in certain seasons so always double-check during your prep. 

A 4WD is definitely recommended to get there.

Address: Borrego Salton Spring Way, Borrego Springs, California, 92004

Five Palms Hot Springs in the middle of the desert. Screen cap from a video. 

6. Ojai Hot Springs

Ojai Hot Springs is a commercialized thermal gem with an all-natural look located in the celebrity-frequented unincorporated town of Ojai.

What To Expect

A hot springs establishment on private property, nestled in beautiful Calfornian scenery that provides its guests with five pools of varying temperatures and appearances. They are situated along the Matilija river on a wide open rocky ground, giving the place an extremely picturesque appearance. The thermal water temperature ranges between 100-106℉.

Don’t Miss

While you’re there, be sure to explore Ecotopia’s Community Supported Agriculture that keeps the establishment afloat.

Good To Know

The facility is digital-free and clothing-optional.

Minimum $20 donation to CSA is required to enter the springs for 2 hours.

Always check weather and road conditions before visiting. Ojai Hot Springs is known to be temporarily shut down from time to time because of snow storms and other inconveniences. 

Address: 2566 Matilija Canyon Rd,  Ojai, CA 93023

Ojai Hot Springs captured by @unclecarl13 on IG.

7. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs

Wild Willy’s – otherwise known as Crawley Hot Springs – is one of the most accessible and therefore most frequented Hot Springs in Mono County, but with its scenic location in mountainous landscapes, we wouldn’t expect anything less.

What To Expect

Your visit to Wild Willy’s Hot Springs will be made up of two pools of 95-105℉. Both pools combined can accommodate around 20-25 people. The coolest thing about this hot springs destination is that one pool is shaped like a heart and attracts a lot of attention – as well as cameras, and rightfully so. 

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs is touched up ever-so-slightly by cement, but the waters are all natural.

Don’t Miss

If you’d like to get a proper outdoor experience be sure to pay a visit to Brown’s Campgrounds, located around 15 minutes from Wild Willy’s.

Good To Know

It comes as no surprise to anyone that with easy access comes popularity, which means that you should be ready to share these clothing-optional springs with many groups of people. 

Address: Benton Crossing Road, Benton Crossing, California 93546.

Beautiful capture of Wild Willy’s Hot Springs by @ernestfotography on IG.

Do’s And Don’ts

Every hot spring has its own quirks. They all have a set of rules that you need to follow regardless of what kind of spring you’re visiting. For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts” here. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are quite a few options for you to enjoy, and we’re fairly positive that these picks painted a good enough picture of what to expect. Now all you need to do is sit back, de-stress and immerse yourself in the best hot springs in California.


While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!

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