Welcome to our round-up of the 12 publicly accessible natural hot springs in Southern California! We’ve covered hot springs as far north as Mammoth Lakes and as far south as the border with Mexico. These are all completely undeveloped and free to visit, which makes it especially important to leave no trace and do your part to keep them clean. Each hot spring requires either a short walk or long hike to gain access, we’ve shared those details below so you can plan appropriately.
We've also created a map showing where each hot spring is located in the state. It’s cool to see how they are clustered in certain areas…you could even plan a California road trip to visit more than one hot spring!
- Whitmore Hot Springs Pool (Award: Best Kept Secret)
- Wild Willy’s Hot Springs (Award: Most Unique)
- Jordan Hot Springs
- Delonegha Hot Springs
- Remington Hot Springs
- Gaviota Springs (Award: Most Pet Friendly)
- Montecito Hot Springs
- Willett Hot Springs
- Sespe Hot Springs (Award: Hottest!)
- Deep Creek Hot Springs
- Five Palms Hot Springs
- Holtville Hot Springs (Award: Most Accessible)
The first group of hot springs is clustered around the Mammoth Lakes area of California.
1. Whitmore Hot Springs Pools - Best Kept Secret
Whitmore Hot Springs is located in Inyo National Forest near Mammoth Lakes. The hot springs are said to have been formed as a result of volcanic activity more than 760,000 years ago. These springs are one of the best kept secrets in California, which means you are unlikely to see large crowds of people. There is a 100 foot walk up a small hill, making it more accessible than most.
2. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs - Most Unique
Located just outside Mammoth Lakes, Wild Willy's Hot Springs is one of the more unique hot springs. The larger of the two pools is naturally heart shaped, with views of the Sierra Nevadas and the Glass Mountain Range, and reaches 95 degrees. The heart shaped pool is larger than most, accommodating 15-20 soakers. The smaller pool is hotter, around 105 degrees, but can comfortably hold only 2-3 people.
To access Wild Willy’s there is a flat, wooden boardwalk that takes about 10 minutes.
The next hot spring is located in the region near Sequoia and Kings Canyon.
3. Jordan Hot Springs
Jordan Hot Springs, located in the Golden Trout Wilderness along the Kern river, is made up of 14 separate pools. The temperature ranges from 94 degrees to 120 degrees. The 6 mile hike ascends 3,000 feet and can be rigorous.
In the early 1900s, a resort was established on this land, however due to the Wilderness Act in 1978, the resort was slowly dismantled. There are still a few ruins left over near the hot springs.
Next comes a cluster of two natural hot springs near Bakersfield.
4. Delonegha Hot Springs
Photo: REDDIT u/kingkill66
Delonegha is located along the Kern River in the Sequoia National Forest north of Bakersfield. There are 7 pools, many of which have been reinforced with either cement or tiles, making them easier to get in and out of.
Although the hot springs are are located on public land, the land between the road and the spring is private land. You will need to park at a nearby bridge and walk along the river for about ½ mile to access the springs.
5. Remington Hot Springs
image source @socallindsay
Remington Hot Springs are a set of three man-made tubs that are beautifully constructed and well-maintained by locals. The tubs are perched on the edge of the Kern River downstream from Lake Isabella.
There is a ¼ mile hike from a dirt parking lot down a steep, dusty trail. Above the 3 pools you will find the Miner’s Tub, which is the oldest and the hottest of all the springs with an average temperature of 103 degrees. The Miner’s Tub feeds the 3 man made tubs and can be used to adjust the temperature of the other tubs.
Bathers are generally nude, but since these springs are technically on Forest Service land, rangers make occasional visits to hand out tickets.
Now we're on to a larger cluster of hot springs around the Santa Barbara area...
6. Gaviota Springs
Located within the Los Padres National Forest, Gaviota Springs has 2 primitive, rock walled tubs. The water is around 100 degrees in the top pool and 95 in the bottom. With an easy hike up an open fire road, this is a very pet friendly hot spring, just make sure your pooch is on a leash. This is also one of the only hot springs where clothing is required, although locals say that no one follows this rule. The best time to visit is between March and May when the weather is mild and the wild flowers are in bloom.
7. Montecito Hot Springs
Montecito Hot Springs, located in the Los Padres Mountains, contains 7 separate pools. They range in temperature from 60 degrees to 112 degrees. The pools are tucked away in a canyon that can be accessed by a moderate 3 mile round trip hike. On the hike you will encounter the ruins of a health resort from the 1800s.
The springs are located on National Forest land so there is a small fee to park.
8. Willett Hot Springs
If you’re willing to make the 20 mile round trip through the Los Padres National Forest, you will be rewarded with stunning mountain views and a soak in a secluded tub. The pool is a relaxing 100 degrees. Make sure to check the weather before making the journey. The best time to visit is Spring or Fall when the weather is moderate.
9. Sespe Hot Springs - Hottest!
The Sespe Hot Springs have been used for centuries by Indigenous people for their warmth and healing properties. They are located in a remote desert area within the Los Padres National Forest North East of Santa Barbara.
The water is a toasty 194 degrees as it comes out of the ground. As the water moves down the creek the water is cooled before it reaches the main springs. Also at the site is a primitive rock sauna and a hot waterfall.
There are three rugged trails leading to the springs. The springs can be reached via the Sespe River Trail (16.8 miles each way); the Johnson Ridge Trail (9.5 miles each way); and the Alder Creek Trail (7.5 miles each way).
Next we have one naturally occurring hot spring near San Bernardino & the Pacific Crest Trail.
10. Deep Creek Hot Springs - Most Pet Friendly
Deep Creek Hot Springs is unique because it provides both hot and cold water pools. Nestled in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, the springs are located on the Deep Creek fork of the Mojave River. The 5 hot pools range in temperature from 100 - 105. As with many of the hot springs, clothing is optional!
There are 3 main hiking routes to reach the springs:
- Bowen Ranch / Freedom Trail - the shortest route at approximately two miles each way.
- Bradford Ridge Path - 2.6 mile one-way trip from the south.
- Pacific Crest Trail - the PCT goes through Deep Creek Hot Springs and can be reached from the Lake Arrowhead area, 6 miles each way
The final group of hot springs are in the desert near the California/Mexico border.
11. Five Palms Hot Springs
Five Palms Hot Springs is hidden desert oasis near the US/Mexico border. It’s surrounded by large palm trees. This pool is slightly cooler than most at 91 degrees, Although you won’t need to hike to reach it, there is only a dirt road to reach it. It is advised to use a four wheel drive vehicle, especially if the road is wet.
12. Holtville Hot Springs
Holtville Springs lies right along the US/Mexico border, just outside of El Centro.
The water flows into two cement pools at 125 degrees, as it moves into the pools it cools to around 110 degrees in the bigger pool and about 104 degrees in the smaller pool. There is also a hot spring fed shower to enjoy after a soak.
Also on the site is a cooler, sandy bottomed pond which is typically 90 degrees.
Of all the hot springs in Southern California, this is by far the easiest to access. There is a paved road that leads right to the springs. No hiking required.