We're sticking to developed California hot springs and a few natural ones that we've been able to check out ourselves. If you're looking for more of the delightful outdoor springs, try Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs by Matt Bischoff. Total Escape also has a good list of natural California hot springs.
Northern California Hot SpringsFolks have been soaking in these California hot springs and thermal pools for hundreds of years and the options in the northern part of the state include some historic properties.
- Drakesbad Guest Ranch at Mt. Lassen National Park has a hot spring-fed swimming pool on the premises. It's only open in the summer months.
- Orr Hot Springs didn't have a website last time we checked, but you can find their Yelp reviews here. It is a 14-mile drive from Ukiah via mountain roads, in a resort that offers accommodations and a communal kitchen for preparing meals. This resort is clothing optional.
- Surprise Valley is just a few miles south of the Oregon border off US Hwy 299.
- Vichy Springs is a 150-year-old resort near the town of Ukiah. Its history is deep - Jack London, Dustin Hoffman and two U. S. Presidents have soaked here - and the specialty is naturally-carbonated mineral baths.
- Wilbur Hot Springs, 22 miles east of Clear Lake has been popular for so long that the adjacent hotel is more than 100 years old (and some say in dire need of renovation). Their "flumes" channel the hot water into pools of varying temperature. Clothing optional.
Wine Country California Hot SpringsCalistoga is the center of geothermal features in wine country, with a wide variety of spas and spa hotels to enjoy them at. Calistoga is also California's mud bath capitol. Further north, just off CA Hwy 29 you'll find Harbin Hot Springs, a retreat and workshop center. With plenty of pools of varying temperatures and beautiful grounds, it's an all-around getaway spot. Clothing is optional and dressing areas are co-ed.
California Hot Springs, Mid-StateBig Sur Hot Springs include the pools at Esalen, Japanese-style soaking at a Zen monastery and a highly-rated outdoor pool in the Ventana Wilderness.
Further south, Sycamore Mineral Springs is just north of Pismo Beach in Avila. The hot pools are nice and rooms were upgraded in 2009, but you may want to read some of their reviews at TripAdvisor before deciding to stay overnight. Nearby Avila Hot Springs is a great place for a getaway, with RV and tent camping, cabins and a large, warm, spring-fed pool.
Mercey Hot Springs near Hollister has been around since the early 1900s, when its water was bottled and sold in pharmacies. They aim to be clean, comfortable and affordable.
Further east, Mono Hot Springs is about 90 miles east of Fresno, but it will take about 2.5 hours to get to its secluded mountain location on the edge of the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The outdoor, jetted pool is filled with natural mineral water and has views of Mt. Hooper.
Also in that part of the state is California Hot Springs Resort, a privately operated RV park with natural pools with a view of the mountains. Day passes are available.
Southern California Hot SpringsIf wasn't already enough to get "hot" about in the Southland, these places will surely get you warmed up.
- Agua Caliente County Park, about 100 miles west of San Diego features two naturally-fed pools. Camp nearby and you can also enjoy the waters in the spring-fed showers.
- Bashford's Hot Mineral Spa near Salton Sea gets its hot water from deep wells. It has six mineral baths, heated pools and plenty of camping spots for RVs and tents.
- Beverly Hot Springs is the only natural hot spring spa in Los Angeles. It gets its naturally-carbonated water from a spring discovered by accident in the 1930s when a wildcat driller was looking for oil.
- Delight's Hot Springs has an RV park, cabins and four pools, one of which is equipped for easy access if you're mobility impaired. It's just east of the edge of Death Valley off CA Hwy 127.
- Fountain of Youth Spa near the Salton Sea is a deluxe snowbird resort with hot water spas and pools.
- Glen Ivy Hot Springs has been a favorite for many years. Facilities include natural waters and red clay mud baths that give it the nickname "Club Mud." It's about 60 miles from Los Angeles and 90 miles from San Diego.
- Tecopa Hot Springs near the south end of Death Valley boasts excellent, silky waters and has a range of other spa treatments.