If you’re looking for a way to relax after conquering the Eastern Sierras and have decided to look after your sore muscles, the place you’d make a stop at is most probably Travertine Hot Springs – a mineral-rich thermal delight in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Even though the existence of Travertine Hot Springs is no secret to anyone – neither a visitor, a local, or simply an outdoor-lover – it’s still a one-of-a-kind, feel-good geothermal experience after a long day (or days) of exploring the outdoors.
With its extremely easy access, beautiful surrounding scenery, and abundance of rejuvenating properties, one might think that being nestled among crowds of people in their birthday suits is very worth it. However, if you think otherwise, you can take a look at your compiled list of hot springs in California where we’re positive you’ll find a pick suitable for your personal preferences.
What You Need to Know
Travertine Hot Springs is rightfully referred to as one of the gems of the Eastern Sierras and even the state of California. Its magnificent appearance, several minerally rich pools, and easy access really make it one of the top destinations of your Eastern California road trip.
Here are the first impressions and a visual image: once you reach the parking lot you’ll notice a small, primitive thermal pool that is one of the hottest in the area. It’s a rectangular pool emerging from the ground and nestled in a wide open space. It may reach a solid 120 degrees Fahrenheit so maybe just bring a thermometer, would ya, and dip a toe before you soak your whole body in it.
Another perk of this so-called “parking lot pool” is its easy access for people with disabilities and mobility issues.
Once you leave the Parking Lot pool, within a short walking distance you will reach the main character of this story: Travertine Hot Springs. It consists of four travertine and mud-bottomed geothermal pools (hence the name of the springs) that are divided by small man-made rock walls to balance the liquid flow.
They’re burrowed around a small ridge which gets its water source from the ground. The water travels along and then over the ridge and drips straight into the main pool which then feeds the rest of the natural baths.
The pools are of varying temperatures, with their source being a boiling 180 degrees Fahrenheit and the springs themselves ranging between 115-156 degrees Fahrenheit. The main and biggest pool is always hotter than the others. Considering that this one feeds the rest, you’d be correct to assume that the further you get from this one, the lower the temperature gets.
The main one is wide enough to accommodate up to 5-6 people, the second one is big enough for probably 4, and the third one can seat up to 3 people. The last pool on the other hand is tiny and can’t accommodate anyone.
How to Get to Travertine Hot Springs?
Heading south from Bridgeport on Highway 395, take a left onto an unmarked paved road just before the Forest Service Office. Follow the straight road between a quarry work site for a very short distance until it reaches a dirt road on the first right, then go left up into the hills. Keep on this well graded dirt track up to the parking lot.
How Do I Avoid Crowds?
If hot springs could get lucky, we’d say Travertine Hot Springs really is one of the luckiest of them all with its gorgeous and picturesque appearance, but with beauty comes fame. It’s no secret that hot springs usually attract a lot of people, and with Travertine being one of the prettiest ones in this area, the place is almost always crowded and frequented by visitors who mostly prefer to soak in their birthday suits. So if you’re not comfortable with nudity, this place may not be for you.
However, there are a few alternatives you could try. If you’re looking for a bit more seclusion, then here are some tips that you can follow.
- Only a few hundred feet from the main natural baths, you’ll encounter at least four more of them that are scattered around the area. The best thing about them is their relative remoteness, unlike our main character here, which increases the likelihood of having them all to yourself.
- Obviously, coming to Travertine Hot Springs and not soaking in the main pools would be a crime and a waste of a lot of effort. If you want to enjoy the solitude and interact with nature in peace, either visit before dawn and spend your time waiting for the stunning sunrise or come in the dead of night and stargaze. Either option is a great way to try something new for a romantic getaway. Just sayin’.
- You can try your luck at Buckeye Hot Springs, which is on the other side of Bridgeport and very close to Travertine Hot Springs, making it very convenient. So if you find Travertine way too crowded, just drive for 6.5 miles and check out Buckeye. It is less known but is Travertine’s worthy competition in terms of the amount of minerals, soaking options, beauty, views, heat, and space.
Etiquette Tips and Important Information to Take into Account
Being the gem of a natural resource that it is, Travertine Hot Springs needs to be cherished and approached with the care that it deserves. The duty of anyone who enjoys the valuable properties of such natural wonders is to help keep them in the best shape possible. Which is why there are a lot of etiquette tips you need to take into consideration when it comes to the proper use of Hot Springs.
Click here to see all the etiquette tips that you should follow.
- Cell reception at Travertine Hot Springs is unstable. You may pick up some service near the parking lot but nowhere further than that so just in case, be prepared with offline maps and let someone know where you are beforehand.
- Expect a lot of nudity. This really should not come as a surprise at this point. Travertine Hot Springs is clothing-optional and a lot of people love to soak nude.
- Travertine Hot Springs is dog-friendly but they have to be kept on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the springs. Unfortunately, this is a rule a lot of people choose to disregard.
Note: Travertine Hot Springs is managed by BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which means that the area is stably patrolled.
The nearest accommodation option is in Bridgeport, California. Even though there isn’t a vast selection, all lodging has great reviews. You can check out accommodation options here.
More Natural Attractions For Your Road Trip
Travertine Hot Spring frequenters usually stop there on their way to Mammoth Lakes. Even though Mammoth Lakes is one of the biggest natural attractions as it is and isn’t that easy to top, here are some attraction suggestions that you can check out on your way to Mammoth, or just anywhere if you’re headed west.
- The beautiful Bridgeport Reservoir nestled into the beautiful landscapes of Eastern Sierras is actually surrounded by quite a lot of campsites, if that’s what you’re interested in.
- You can explore more of Humboldt National Forest and take advantage of its close proximity.
- The absolutely gorgeous Mono Lake, actually boasts one of the longest histories in the entire continent of North America.
- Then of course, there’s none other than our very own Buckeye Hot Springs and its whole appearance which makes you think that it was taken straight out of a fantasy novel.
- If you’re thinking about making a little detour, the obvious choice is of course making a stop at Yosemite National Park.
On The Downside
Even though we gave you some extremely important tips to follow, there’s still some other information to take into consideration before visiting, and it all comes down to the fact that a lot of people disregard said tips.
Considering that the springs are visited by many people, which is a downside on its own, apart from the obvious issues that come with crowds like littering and disrespecting other people’s privacy, it also inadvertently brings a lot of bacterial infections. As BLM reports, the springs are visited by tens of thousands of people every year, some of whom are not open minded enough to respect the etiquette rules, including sanitary practices that often result in spreading infections.
Additionally, some people even say that contrary to popular belief, this place is not clothing-optional and that nudity and camping in the nearby areas are actually prohibited, which would mean that this is yet another case of people choosing to disregard the rules.
So if you decide to go, especially without doing individual research, you’ll be doing so at your own risk.
Important note: Travertine Hot Springs holds great value to the local Indigenous American Community. This is a place of religious reminiscence for them, which means that outsiders, to be blunt, are not exactly welcome, and it’s sad to see how BLM disregards their preferences.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to Travertine Hot Springs. Some people think that it’s worth it, some people say the opposite, but the final take-away of it all is that all the issues that accompany a visit to these hot springs fall under the ignorant tendencies of human nature.
While it would be one of the most gorgeous getaways for the first-timer – offering incredible opportunities to either spice up your romantic getaways or to spend quality time with your family – it would also come with a lot of red flags. Not only may it turn out to be bad for your health, it also can cause a moral dilemma because of its value to the local Indigenous American Community. You can risk it but by doing so you’d also be disregarding their wishes as well as, potentially, your own well-being.
At this point, deciding whether it’s worth it or not is up to you, but this decision should not be exclusive to trying to adopt nature appreciation practices, otherwise natural wonders such as hot springs will become off-limits to everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
Heading south from Bridgeport on Highway 395, take a left onto an unmarked paved road just before the Forest Service Office. Follow the straight road between a quarry work site for a very short distance until it reaches a dirt road on the first right, then go left up into the hills. Keep on this well-graded dirt track up to the parking lot.
Travertine Hot Springs has four pools but only three are big enough to have a soak.
Yes, you can go to Travertine Hot Springs via any vehicle.
The temperature of Travertine Hot Springs varies between 115-156 degrees Fahrenheit.
The famed terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs are made of travertine, which precipitates out of the water because calcium carbonate is less soluble at higher pH levels.
Yes, it is clothing-optional.
You are not allowed to camp at Travertine Hot Springs but you can nearby. Some of the most popular campgrounds in the area are Paradise Shores, Bridgeport Reservoirs, Willow Springs Motel, and RV Park.
Yes, Travertine Hot Springs requires no fees.
Travertine Hot Springs is located in the Humboldt National Forest, just a few miles from the town of Bridgeport, CA
Travertine Hot Springs is crowded, no matter the season.
There are four main hot springs pools at Travertine Hot Springs. There are four more primitive ones a few hundred feet away from the main pools.
No, you can not swim in Travertine Hot Springs.
No, you don’t. There’s a short walk from the parking lot to the springs.
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!