First of all, there are natural “pristine” hot springs and filtered and commercialized springs. Both types use natural resources, but commercial establishments are required by law to monitor mineral springs to ensure sanitary conditions for the public.
A natural hot spring, or hydrothermal or geothermal spring, occurs when geothermally heated groundwater rises to the surface.
Because the water comes from deep in the earth’s crust, hot springs have high concentrations of minerals that may include silicon, calcium, iron, and lithium.
Native peoples have regarded hot springs as sacred, healing waters for thousands of years. Various cultures around the world have used geothermal springs for rehabilitation and therapy.
Even today, people with arthritis, skin conditions, muscle pain and other ailments claim hot springs make them feel better.
Are natural hot springs beneficial to health?
Natural hot springs are not filtered. For this reason, they may contain pathogens and disease-carrying bacteria.
Stagnant water is another problem. If the hot spring is not used very often, algae will begin to grow.
However, this is unlikely to be a serious problem in popular natural hot springs, especially in California.
How hot are hot springs?
Although temperatures can vary from place to place, hot springs generally reach a temperature of 90 degrees or more.
Natural hot springs, where people have been bathing for thousands of years to enjoy the healing properties of the mineral water, usually have a temperature of 95 to 104 degrees.
The best hot springs spas in California
Not only can you enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the California landscape while soaking in one of these hot springs, but you can also enjoy other amenities and services like mud baths, saunas, on-site restaurants and more.
These are the best hot springs spas in California that will help you rejuvenate your soul.
1. Indian Springs
Address: 1712 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515
Price: Pool passes are $50 for day spa guests who book a 50-minute spa service. Otherwise, pools and services are reserved for registered Indian Springs Calistoga hotel guests.
Indian Springs Calistoga is unique in that it has four thermal geysers that donate a constant stream of mineral water to harness the land’s natural resources.
This water feeds the mineral pool, steam baths and Buddha pond. Guests of all ages can enjoy the 92 to 102 degree thermal waters of the Olympic mineral pool.
Because the site is crisscrossed with a large amount of pure volcanic ash, the water and ash together form the mud for the mud baths.
Address: 55000 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
Price: Prices vary by program and workshop. Day passes are $357.
At the Esalen Institute, guests can relax, improve self-awareness and promote healing of body, mind and spirit. Here, you’ll have access to healing classes, workshops and activities at some of California’s best spas.
Services include astrological readings, energy work, chakra balancing, guided self-inquiry, herbal rituals, intuitive card readings and massage sessions.
Workshops and self-guided explorations are available for weekend or weeknight visits. A one-day visitor pass costs $357 for those not staying overnight.
3 Wilbur Hot Springs
Address: 3375 Wilbur Springs Road, Williams, CA 95987
Price: Prices start at $59.
There is no schedule for overnight guests at Wilbur Hot Springs. Relax in the beautiful scenery of the bathing areas or gaze into the starry night.
The bathing area is a private, no-clothing area where guests can enjoy peace and solitude. Due to capacity limitations, the use of the hot springs, pool, sauna and nature reserve is limited during the day.
Reservations can be made for $59 on weekdays and $65 on weekends. Overnight guests can also book campsites, cabins, private rooms and hotel rooms.