Our Favorite Hot Spring Communities 

Sometimes It’s About More Than Just A Soak

Apart from its countless medicinal benefits, hot springs have been a place of spiritual reminiscence since the dawn of time. Furthermore, spiritual reminiscence has always stemmed from a foundation of togetherness and community. 

Even though hot springs have become more and more popular over time, especially for commercial use, that distinct sense of unity is still very much present. 

What do thermal springs communities have in common in the 21st century? It’s the determination to preserve our surrounding nature and engage with our individual spirit. 

This is the basis for all the moral codes with which they operate.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about the hot springs communities that are pretty much hidden from the spotlight, yet have the valiant job of protecting the environment and the human soul.

Tassajara Hot Springs

The main pool at Tassajara Hot Springs.

If you’re here as a hot springs enthusiast, you most probably know Tassajara Hot Springs as a place of lush thermal waters tucked into the Big Sur inland and surrounded by all things Japanese in style. But did you know that officially this place is known as Tassajara Zen Mountain Center?

Tassajara Hot Springs has always been a place of many names and purposes. For the Esselen Indigenous Tribes, it was the ‘place where meat is hung to dry’, one that they frequented for both spiritual and physical healing, and where they even prepared for battle. 

Fast forward to the 21st century, Tassajara Hot Springs is part of a Zen Center alongside a Buddhist Monastery that is home to priests, monks, and acolytes. It is one of the three Zen Centers that share one vision- spreading, embodying, and expressing the wisdom of Buddha. It is in a remote location and comes with the great bonus of mineral-rich hot springs. The community here is assembled by active practitioners. Some of them prefer to live on the premises whereas some prefer the opposite but are still considered active members of the spiritual society nonetheless. 

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center offers countless workshops and programs, lectures and classes, and gives you the chance to meditate daily or participate in regular monastic retreats. This is a great opportunity for anyone who’d like to learn more about Buddhism or the community’s mission to achieve ultimate spiritual restoration in a digital-free environment.

Slates (Esalen) Hot Springs

Aerial view of the Slates thermal pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Located on top of the mighty Big Sur and very close to Tassajara Hot Springs, you’ll find Slates (Esalen) Hot Springs. A collection of hot spring pools alongside Tassajara mineral pools was once frequented by Esselen Indigenous Tribes. 

If you want to connect with nature and test your potential to the fullest, Slates Hot Springs is the place to go. It is officially known as Esalen Educational Institute and Retreat Center which houses a community with a cause as ambitious as it gets. However, it is a cause that we can get behind with a lot of appreciation and respect. It is frequented by people from the corporate world to learn how to balance their digital workload with self-help workshops designed to reach deep into the human soul and find the answers to the questions that modern educational and religious institutions don’t possess.

This eco-friendly establishment has been a spiritual shelter for California locals for six decades. It centers around the ideas of self-reflection, love, harmony, holism, and spiritual transformation while educating people on how to connect with the simple beautiful things in life such as meditation, self-reflection, spending quality time with equally motivated people or merely having a good conversation with them.

They have a huge selection of workshops that visitors can choose from. Rest assured, anyone can find a program that speaks to them. 

Harbin Hot Springs

The outdoor area of Harbin Hot Springs.

Located in Middletown, CA is one of California’s oldest hot springs and the soaker’s dream known as Harbin Hot Springs. The community managing this facility takes the appreciation for spirituality and cleansing your mind from all things digital and corporate to another level. 

Harbin Hot Springs is a digital-free, unisex establishment, where nudity is required not only during thermal soaking but also during all sorts of physical activities such as yoga. The community actively supports the idea of freedom of spirit that in a way is reflected in naked bodies. People who love going to clothing-optional hot springs have even described this place as a ‘fairytale.’ 

However, the biggest attraction of Harbin is Water Shiatsu, otherwise known as Watsu Bodywork. It’s a technique that was actually born in Harbin Hot Springs. It’s practiced in water at all times, combining Shiatsu and Zen meditation. 

If you love soaking in your birthday suit and feeling as if you are completely untethered from any corporate responsibilities, Harbin Hot Springs is the place to go.

Breitenbush Hot Springs

One of the steamy meadow pools at Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Nestled deep in the wilderness only 10 miles from Detroit, OR, is Breitenbush Hot Springs – a place one could consider to be the safest spiritual haven for everyone.

The reason Breitenbush Hot Springs stands out in the visitor’s eye is that it’s most probably the only hot spring establishment that openly welcomes people of all genders, which isn’t something one comes by very often. 

It’s managed by an extremely open-minded eco-friendly community that consists of what they call ‘stewards’ who dedicate their time and energy to preserving this Native American land while living full-time on the Breitenbush Hot Springs premises. The community has done an outstanding job with the Breitenbush HS rebirth after the devastating Lionshead Fire. 

The stewards are big on utilizing as few resources as possible, which for visitors most of the time results in the unavailability of some day-to-day use items.

Based on this, you’d be correct to assume that the establishment serves veggie meals, but there hasn’t been a single case where the meal wasn’t considered tasty. 

All this is a guarantee for an incredible digital-free vacation that will do wonders for your soul and mind. More importantly, you can choose from their vast selection of programs and workshops that will help you recharge physically and spiritually.

Valley View Hot Springs

Beautiful capture of Valley View Hot Springs

Situated at the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Colorado and boasting countless stunning landscapes is Valley View, which houses Valley View Hot Springs and with that, a 2200-acre conservation organization named Orient Land Trust. 

Valley View Hot Springs is one of the safest establishments in the state. It is family-friendly and clothing optional. Considering that it’s operated by a charity organization, all proceeds go to taking care of this land and everything that dwells within. Both inanimate and animate. 

The charitable, non-profit organization was created around the springs. The stewards of OLT protect and preserve everything situated on these two thousand acres including Valley View Hot Springs, wildlife, hiking trails, and even cabin and tent camping areas. 

With advanced reservations, you’ll be contributing to a good cause and as a result, feel what it’s like to be a steward of this eco and enviro-friendly organization. At least to a certain extent.

The Final Take-away

As you can see, hot springs present something so much more than just a cure for certain ailments or sore muscles. This is the type of natural wonder that has given different groups of people a sense of unity and togetherness for millennia. 

This is worth taking into account every time you plan a visit to a hot spring because it’s precisely due to things like this that you actually witness the power of nature.


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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