Where to Find the Best Natural Hot Springs in the Sierra Nevadas

The Sierra Nevadas are famed for their breathtaking beauty, punctuated by sparkling alpine lakes, towering peaks, and lush forests. Yet, hidden within these natural splendors are hot springs, heated by the earth’s core. These hot springs provide a therapeutic and awe-inspiring experience that captures the essence of the region’s tranquility.

This guide will delve into the origins of these natural hot springs, taking you on a journey from the picturesque Travertine Hot Springs to the secret of Grover Hot Springs State Park. We’ll also reveal hidden gems such as Iva Bell Hot Springs and provide practical advice for your journey. So sit back, relax, and get ready to plan an adventure unlike any other.

Understanding the Origin of Natural Hot Springs

Before embarking on your journey to discover the best natural hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas, it’s important to understand how these hot springs came into being. At its core, the formation of natural hot springs is a geological phenomenon, a testament to the power of the Earth’s internal heat and water’s ability to carry it to the surface.

The Geological Story

The story of natural hot springs begins deep within the Earth. The inner layers of our planet are incredibly hot, with temperatures reaching up to 9000 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat is primarily due to two factors:

– Decay of radioactive elements
– Residual heat from when the planet was formed

As this heat builds up, it naturally wants to escape to the surface. In some places, this heat makes its way to the surface through the process of convection. However, in many places, it’s the water that plays a crucial role in transferring this heat to the Earth’s surface.

The Role of Water 

Water from rain or melting snow seeps into the Earth’s crust through cracks and fissures. As it goes deeper, it gets heated by the high temperatures in the Earth’s interior. This hot water then rises to the surface, creating a natural hot spring. Here’s how the process works:

– Water seeps into the Earth, reaching depths of up to a mile
– As it descends, it gets heated by the Earth’s internal heat
– The heated water then rises through cracks and fissures due to its lower density
– As it reaches the surface, it creates a natural hot spring

Unique Conditions in the Sierra Nevadas 

The Sierra Nevadas, with their abundant rainfall and snowfall, provide the perfect conditions for the formation of natural hot springs. The mountain range’s geology, marked by numerous faults and volcanic activity, allows for easy seepage of water and its subsequent rise. 

In conclusion, the origin of natural hot springs is a fascinating blend of geology and hydrology. It’s a continuous process, powered by the Earth’s internal heat and the never-ending water cycle. Understanding this makes the experience of soaking in a natural hot spring in the Sierra Nevadas even more special.

Travertine Hot Springs
Travertine Hot Springs

The Majesty of Travertine Hot Springs

Travertine Hot Springs is one of the most sought-after hot springs in the Sierra Nevada range, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, relaxation, and geothermal wonder. Nestled just south of the small town of Bridgeport, California, this hot spring is famous for its stunning Travertine formations and serene atmosphere.

The Springs

Travertine Hot Springs is composed of several pools, each with its own distinctive characteristics. These pools vary in size and temperature, with the waters ranging from comfortably warm to piping hot. The pools are filled with mineral-rich water, known for its therapeutic properties.

– Main Pool: The most popular pool is the main pool, which boasts a breathtaking view of the Sawtooth Ridge in the distance. This pool is also the warmest, with temperatures reaching up to 103°F (39°C).
– Secondary Pools: These smaller pools are a bit cooler, making them an ideal choice for those who prefer a less intense soaking experience.

Scenic Beauty

One of the most striking features of Travertine Hot Springs is its scenic beauty. The hot springs are surrounded by a panorama of rugged Sierra peaks, verdant valleys, and expansive meadows. This stunning backdrop makes soaking in the hot springs a truly unforgettable experience.

– Travertine Formations: The hot springs derive their name from the unique Travertine formations present here. These formations are created by the deposition of calcium carbonate from the spring waters. Over time, this deposition results in a dazzling array of Travertine terraces and pools.
– Flora and Fauna: The area surrounding the hot springs is teeming with diverse flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife such as mule deer, bobcats, and a variety of bird species.


Travertine Hot Springs is easily accessible by car, with a parking lot located a short walk away from the main pool. The springs are open year-round, although accessibility may be limited in winter due to snow. 

In essence, the majesty of Travertine Hot Springs lies in its stunning natural beauty, therapeutic waters, and easy accessibility. Whether you’re a seasoned hot springs enthusiast or a first-time visitor, Travertine Hot Springs offers an unparalleled soaking experience amidst the breathtaking Sierra Nevada landscape.

Unveiling the Secret of Grover Hot Springs State Park

Nestled amidst the serene alpine region of Sierra Nevada, Grover Hot Springs State Park is a haven for nature lovers and hot spring enthusiasts alike. This unique hot spring, hidden within a state park, offers a breathtaking mountainous backdrop and a tranquil ambiance that is unlike any other.

– A Natural Hot Tub: Discovered in 1859, Grover Hot Springs is a natural hot tub, with water temperatures averaging 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot spring pool, filled with mineral-rich water from six hot springs, is a natural marvel that attracts visitors from all corners of the world.

– Setting: Surrounded by a lush alpine meadow and towering pine trees, Grover Hot Springs State Park offers an idyllic setting that is perfect for a rejuvenating soak. The park’s location, 5,900 feet above sea level, provides stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and its diverse wildlife.

– Mineral Composition: The water at Grover Hot Springs contains a unique blend of minerals, including sulfate, bicarbonate, and chloride. These minerals are renowned for their therapeutic benefits, providing relief from ailments like arthritis, skin conditions, and muscle pain.

– Facilities: Aside from the hot spring pool, the state park offers various amenities such as picnic areas, camping sites, hiking trails, and a visitor center. There’s also a cooler swimming pool for those who prefer a refreshing dip.

– Accessibility: Grover Hot Springs State Park is accessible year-round, although winter visits may require a bit of a hike due to road closures. The park charges a nominal entrance fee, which includes access to the hot springs.

Unveiling the allure of Grover Hot Springs State Park indeed reveals a secret paradise, a fusion of nature’s beauty and the healing powers of its mineral-infused waters. It’s a must-visit location in the Sierra Nevada for anyone seeking a holistic and unforgettable hot springs experience.

Experiencing the Bliss at Buckeye Hot Springs

Nestled in the mountainous terrain of the Sierra Nevadas, Buckeye Hot Springs is a treasure trove for those seeking a unique outdoor experience. This idyllic hot spring is renowned for its picturesque setting and soothing thermal waters. Here’s why Buckeye Hot Springs is worth the journey.

The Setting

Buckeye Hot Springs is situated near Bridgeport, California, nestled against a hillside overlooking a serene creek. The inviting environment is a testament to nature’s splendor, where tranquility abounds and the panoramic views are nothing less than awe-inspiring.

  • The hot springs are set amidst a backdrop of towering cliffs and verdant vegetation, creating an intimate, secluded ambiance.
  • The area is divided into two primary sections, each offering a distinctive soaking experience. The upper section features several tubs filled with hot mineral water, while the lower section provides a more rustic, natural pool experience.

The Thermal Water

A dip in the geothermal waters of Buckeye Hot Springs is an experience that is truly rejuvenating.

  • The water temperature varies between 95°F to 112°F, making it perfect for a soothing soak.
  • The hot water is naturally infused with minerals, which are believed to have healing properties. 


While the journey to Buckeye Hot Springs is a bit of an adventure, the rewards are more than worth the effort.

  • The hot springs are accessible via a short, somewhat steep hike, which adds to the sense of adventure.
  • The path to the springs is clearly marked, making navigation relatively straightforward.
  • While the area is relatively remote, it is still accessible by car, followed by the brief hike.

Experiencing the bliss at Buckeye Hot Springs is a must-do when exploring the Sierra Nevadas. This outdoor spa, set in an idyllic landscape, offers an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, or simply a unique outdoor adventure, Buckeye Hot Springs is a destination that should not be overlooked.

The Hidden Gem: Iva Bell Hot Springs

Nestled into the High Sierra backcountry, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, lies the hidden gem of the Sierra Nevadas: Iva Bell Hot Springs. This secluded paradise is one of the lesser-known hot springs, which makes it the perfect getaway for those seeking serenity and tranquility amidst nature’s grandeur.

Location and Accessibility

Iva Bell Hot Springs is located deep in the John Muir Wilderness, approximately 13 miles from the nearest trailhead at Reds Meadow near Mammoth Lakes. Its remote location means that reaching the hot springs requires a bit of a hike, but the journey through lush forests, across meadows sprinkled with wildflowers, and alongside babbling creeks is well worth the effort.

– Due to its remote location, Iva Bell Hot Springs is less crowded than other hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas.
– The hike to the hot springs is a moderate one, suitable for most hikers with a basic level of fitness.
– You can access the hot springs year-round, but the best times to visit are spring and fall to avoid snow on the trail.

Features of Iva Bell Hot Springs

What makes Iva Bell Hot Springs so special is its series of six naturally formed hot pools, each with its own unique temperature and size. These pools are filled with clear, mineral-rich water that bubbles up from the ground, providing a soothing soak in a heavenly setting.

– The temperatures in the pools vary from lukewarm to hot, ranging from 85°F to 106°F.
– You can find both shallow and deep pools, accommodating for both those who wish to lie down and those who prefer to sit.
– The pools are surrounded by lush vegetation and offer spectacular views of the nearby mountains, making for an unforgettable soaking experience.

Wildlife and Camping

Visitors to Iva Bell Hot Springs may also catch a glimpse of the local wildlife such as deer, birds, and even the occasional black bear. For those wishing to extend their stay, there are campsites available in the nearby vicinity.

– Camping is allowed in the area, but remember to follow Leave No Trace principles to keep this beautiful site preserved.
– Always keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding them to maintain the natural balance.
– Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy additional activities such as bird watching, star gazing, and exploring the surrounding wilderness.

In the world of natural hot springs, Iva Bell is indeed a hidden gem. Its remote location, beautiful surroundings, and soothing waters make it an unforgettable destination for those willing to undertake the journey.

Crab Cooker Hot Spring

A Soak at the Crab Cooker Hot Springs

Crab Cooker Hot Springs, nestled in the Eastern Sierra, is a spot that truly captures the spirit of natural hot springs. Its name derives from its hottest pool, which can easily cook a crab. This aptly named hot spring offers a unique blend of raw nature and intriguing beauty.

Location and Accessibility

Located near Mammoth Lakes, Crab Cooker Hot Springs can be accessed via a moderately easy hike. However, the last section of the trail requires a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle due to rough and rocky terrain. Here are some quick facts about its location and accessibility:

  • The hot spring is located nearly 3 miles east of the town of Mammoth Lakes.
  • The trailhead is accessible through Benton Crossing Road.
  • It requires a mile long hike from the parking area to the hot springs.
  • The trail is mostly flat and easily navigable.

Features of Crab Cooker Hot Springs

The Crab Cooker Hot Springs is a unique destination for several reasons:

  • The hot springs comprise of two distinct pools – one exceptionally hot and the other comfortably warm.
  • The larger pool is cooler and perfect for a relaxing soak, while the smaller pool is extremely hot.
  • The pools are lined with rocks, providing a comfortable, natural seating arrangement.
  • The spring features crystal clear water, allowing you to see the floor of the spring.
  • The location offers stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, creating a serene ambiance that perfectly complements the warm soak.

Visiting Tips

Visiting Crab Cooker Hot Springs can be a rewarding experience if you keep a few things in mind:

  • The best time to visit is during the fall or spring season.
  • As the trail is not marked, using a GPS or detailed map is recommended.
  • Remember to pack in and pack out all trash. The area has a strict “Leave No Trace” policy.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid soaking for too long in the hotter pool to prevent overheating.

When it comes to natural hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas, Crab Cooker stands out with its unique charm and mesmerizing beauty. Whether you’re seeking a warm soak or simply a tranquil place to connect with nature, Crab Cooker Hot Springs can offer an experience that’s truly one of a kind.

The Essential Guide to Wild Willys Hot Springs

Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, Wild Willys Hot Springs offers a unique and refreshing experience for both novice and seasoned hot spring enthusiasts. This natural wonder is easily accessible, free, and open to the public year-round. Here’s what you need to know before you head out for a dip in these therapeutic waters.

Location and Access

Wild Willys Hot Springs is located just off Benton Crossing Road in Mammoth Lakes, California. The hot springs are a short 200-yard walk from the parking area, making it easily accessible for most visitors. The path to the springs is generally flat and well-marked, but can be a bit muddy after rain or snow.

The Hot Springs

– Number of Pools: There are two main pools at Wild Willys Hot Springs. The larger pool, known as “The Heart”, is heart-shaped and can comfortably accommodate up to 10 people. The smaller pool is just a few steps away and is perfect for a more intimate soak.
– Water Temperature: The temperature of the water varies between the two pools, ranging from a warm 95 degrees Fahrenheit to a hot 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Visitors can choose the pool that best suits their comfort level.
– Scenery: One of the standout features of Wild Willys Hot Springs is its stunning scenery. The pools are surrounded by vast, open meadows and offer unobstructed views of the Sierra Nevadas. 

What to Bring

To make the most of your visit to Wild Willys Hot Springs, here are a few essentials to pack:
– Swimsuit: Nude bathing is not uncommon at many hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas, but at Wild Willys, swimsuits are encouraged.
– Towels: There are no facilities at Wild Willys, so make sure to bring your own towel.
– Drinking Water: Soaking in hot springs can be dehydrating, so bring plenty of drinking water.
– Trash Bag: Help preserve the beauty of Wild Willys Hot Springs by packing out any trash you bring in.


While Wild Willys Hot Springs is open to the public, it’s essential to respect the natural environment and other visitors. Loud music and glass containers are discouraged, and camping is not allowed within 200 yards of the springs.

In a nutshell, Wild Willys Hot Springs is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a therapeutic soak amidst the stunning landscapes of the Sierra Nevadas.

The Allure of Mono Hot Springs

Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada mountains lies the enchanting Mono Hot Springs. This secluded, natural wonder is an absolute treasure for those who seek the tranquility and healing properties of thermal waters. Named after the Mono Indian tribe, it is a testament to the area’s rich history and cultural heritage. Here’s what makes this place an irresistible spot for hot spring enthusiasts:

– Natural Beauty: Mono Hot Springs is surrounded by the spectacular landscape of the Sierra Nevadas. The breathtaking views of the mountains, lush forests, and pristine rivers amplify the relaxing experience of soaking in the hot springs. 

– Diverse Range of Hot Springs: Mono Hot Springs hosts a multitude of thermal pools, each with its unique charm and temperature. From the soothing warmth of Old Pedro to the invigorating heat of the hotter springs, there’s a spring for everyone’s taste. 

– Healing Waters: The thermal waters of Mono Hot Springs are rich in minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium, known for their therapeutic benefits. Soaking in these waters can aid in muscle relaxation, improve circulation, and alleviate certain skin conditions. 

– Outdoor Activities: Beyond the hot springs, the area offers plenty of outdoor activities. From hiking and fishing to wildlife viewing and star gazing, Mono Hot Springs is a haven for nature lovers.

– Accommodation Options: For those who wish to extend their visit, Mono Hot Springs Resort provides rustic cabins and camping facilities. It’s the perfect base from where you can explore the stunning Sierra Nevadas while enjoying the comfort of home.

Visiting Mono Hot Springs is more than just a dip in thermal waters; it’s an immersive experience that combines relaxation, therapeutic benefits, and a profound connection with nature. This idyllic destination embodies the essence of Sierra Nevadas – wild, beautiful, and healing. Whether you’re a seasoned hot spring soaker or a first-time visitor, a trip to Mono Hot Springs is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart.

Tips for Visiting Natural Hot Springs in the Sierra Nevada

Venturing into the Sierra Nevadas to experience the natural hot springs can be a thrilling and revitalizing adventure. However, to make the most out of your journey, it’s essential to know some crucial tips. Here are some considerations to bear in mind while planning your trip:

1. Season & Weather: The best times to visit the hot springs are during late spring, summer, and early fall. During these periods, the weather is typically conducive for outdoor exploration. However, always check the local weather forecast before setting out as sudden storms may occur.

2. Safety Measures: Always remember that safety comes first. Some hot springs can reach boiling temperatures, which can be dangerous. Test the water with your hand before fully immersing yourself. Additionally, staying in the water for too long can lead to overheating or dehydration. 

3. Proper Attire: Pack a swimsuit for your hot springs adventure. Some hot springs are clothing optional, but not all. It’s best to be prepared.

4. Hydration & Snacks: Soaking in hot springs can dehydrate your body. Make sure to bring enough water to keep yourself hydrated. Snacks are also a good idea as the heat can make you feel hungrier than usual.

5. Leave No Trace: As part of maintaining the natural beauty of these locations, always take your trash with you when you leave. 

6. Respect Privacy: Some hot springs are secluded and visited by people seeking tranquility. Respect other visitors’ privacy by keeping noise levels down and maintaining a respectful distance.

7. Overnight Stays: Plan your accommodation in advance if you’re planning to stay overnight. Some locations offer camping facilities, while others might have nearby lodges or inns.

Exploring the natural hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas can be a rejuvenating experience. With these tips, you’re ready to make the most of your adventure while ensuring your safety and the preservation of these natural wonders.

Discovering the Magic at Sierra City Hot Springs

Tucked away in the majestic Sierra Nevada, Sierra City Hot Springs emerges as a hidden gem for adventurers craving an unparalleled outdoor escape. This enchanting hot spring beckons with its scenic allure and therapeutic waters. Dive into the reasons why Sierra City Hot Springs is a destination to mark on your map.

The Setting

Sierra City Hot Springs is positioned close to Sierra City, California, ensconced amidst a lush forest that promises serenity at every turn. The environment whispers tales of nature’s magnificence, where peace reigns supreme and the vistas are spellbindingly beautiful.

With a canvas painted in shades of green and the sounds of flowing water as a backdrop, this hot springs offers an embrace of seclusion and intimacy. Canopies of trees shade the springs, and the gentle murmur of nearby streams completes the serene ambiance.

The Thermal Water

Submerging oneself in the warm embrace of Sierra City Hot Springs is nothing short of magical.

  • The waters’ temperatures fluctuate between 92°F to 108°F, offering bathers a range from comfortably warm to delightfully hot.
  • Rich in natural minerals, these geothermal waters are often lauded for their therapeutic and healing attributes.


Journeying to Sierra City Hot Springs is part of its charm, with the promise of tranquility at journey’s end.

  • To reach this secluded haven, visitors embark on a moderately easy hike that winds through the Sierra forests.
  • Clear signage ensures that even first-time visitors can find their way with ease.
  • Though nestled deep in the woods, a well-maintained road makes it feasible for cars to get close, with only the final stretch covered on foot.

The allure of Sierra City Hot Springs is undeniable for those traversing the Sierra Nevadas. This natural haven, surrounded by nature’s best, guarantees a memorable outing. Whether your heart yearns for relaxation, healing, or a distinctive outdoor thrill, Sierra City Hot Springs is a spot that demands attention.

Benefits of Soaking in Natural Hot Springs

The Sierra Nevadas are not only home to some of the most breathtaking natural landscapes in America, but they also offer a unique feature that attracts tourists from all over the world – natural hot springs. These thermal waters, heated by the earth’s geothermal energy, offer more than just a relaxing soak. They come with numerous health and wellness benefits that have been recognized for hundreds of years by civilizations around the world. Here are some of the key benefits of soaking in these natural hot springs:

1. Boosts Blood Circulation: The water in natural hot springs contains a variety of minerals including calcium, magnesium, silica, lithium, and even radium. When you soak in this mineral-rich water, your body absorbs these minerals, which can help boost circulation and oxygen flow in the body.

2. Relieves Pain and Muscle Tension: The heat from the hot springs can help relax your muscles, relieving tension and reducing inflammation. It’s like a natural hot compress that can soothe aches and pains from conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and even general muscle soreness from physical activity.

3. Promotes Skin Health: The minerals found in these waters can also benefit your skin. Silica, for example, can help smooth and soften skin, while sulfur can help with conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

4. Detoxification: Soaking in hot springs can help your body eliminate toxins. The heat induces sweating, which is one way your body naturally detoxifies itself.

5. Stress Relief and Relaxation: Last but certainly not least, soaking in a hot spring is simply relaxing. The warm water and beautiful natural surroundings can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and even improve sleep.

While these benefits are enticing, it’s important to remember that individuals with certain health conditions, including heart disease and pregnancy, should consult a doctor before soaking in hot springs. Also, to maximize the benefits and safety of your soak, ensure that you stay hydrated and limit your soak time to avoid overheating. 

In the Sierra Nevada, natural hot springs are a gift from nature. They offer not just an opportunity for relaxation and enjoyment, but also a chance to enhance wellness and health in a unique and natural way. As you plan your visit to these hot springs, remember that each soak is more than just a dip in warm water – it’s an experience that embraces the natural healing power of the earth.

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