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Live Life Outside

10 Natural Hot Springs in the Western US to Relax and Rejuvenate

Looking for the perfect place to unwind after a long day of adventure? Try any of these stunning hot springs for an ideal location to chill. Relax, refresh, and recharge as you soak in the healing waters of these magical pools - the perfect environment for living the Sunski philosophy - bask more, stress less.

man basking in natural hot spring

Like you, we believe that there is little more important in the world than living a life in balance with nature. What better way to connect with the outdoors than with a hot soak in water sourced from deep within Mother Earth herself?

If you’ve ever visited a natural hot spring, you know that they have a kind of unexplainable magic to them.

There is something other-worldly about sitting in a remote natural environment soaking in the healing waters of pools that have been around for hundreds of thousands of years.

You can let your to-do list of life fall away, your mind clear, and your muscles relax. You can finally take that deep breath, letting the beautiful surroundings bring you calm and relaxation. Toasty pools, splendid views, and a natural, rugged setting - what else could you possibly need?

woman in a natural hot spring

For nearly all of known history, natural hot springs have served as gathering places for healing, ceremonial practices, and enjoyment. Today, they continue to offer outdoor seekers a pristine environment to relax in the enchanting waters and unwind amidst astonishing views.

Whether you are an adventurer, lounger, or simply an epic view-seeker, natural hot springs offer an escape to decompress from everyday life and re-energize yourself for your next journey.

view of hot spring

Natural Hot Springs in the Western United States

With over 1,000 natural hot springs in the western United States, there are plenty to choose from for your next adventure.

From luxurious resorts to primitive backcountry pools, there is a hot spring for everyone! The ones we include below are, for the most part, primitive and undeveloped. If you’re up for the adventure, read on! Although some of these hot springs require a trek, you will be rewarded with unbeatable views, quiet environments, and plenty of experiences to write home about.

Friendly reminder that many of these locations are maintained solely by volunteers and visitors. It’s essential to practice Leave No Trace Principles, and always leave a place the same or better than you found it.

Remember….great basking means being respectful of those around you!

Without further ado, here is a list of just a few of our favorites natural, primitive hot springs in the Western United States:

Must Visit Hot Springs in California, Utah, & Colorado

1. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring, Mammoth Lakes, CA

Wild Willy's hot spring in California

Image by Mountains of Moss

This natural hot spring in California is at the top of our list (and many others) for a reason--its hard to beat! Just East of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra mountains, Wild Willy’s consists of both a hot stream where folks can sit and soak, or a separate large heart shaped pool - one of the largest in the area!

A short 0.25 mile trek from the parking lot will lead you to this popular destination. Due to its popularity, this spot can get pretty crowded on weekends. If you are looking for a more solitary experience, try arriving early in the morning, or going on a weekday.

For some solid camping options nearby, try Convict Lake Campground or McGee Creek RV Park and Campground. If you prefer a mattress, the town of Mammoth is a mere 20 minutes away and is chock full of hotels, inns, and resorts to choose from. The surrounding area is also full of BLM land where you can camp for free! Just be sure to check out a map to ensure you don’t end up on private property by accident.

2. Sykes Hot Spring, Big Sur, CA

Sykes Hot Springs near Big Sur, California

If you’re looking for a bit of a bigger adventure, look no further than this idyllic hot spring hike in the breathtaking area of Big Sur, California.

These popular hot springs are tucked away deep in Los Padres National forest, reachable by a whopping 10 mile one-way hike along the Pine Ridge trail. We recommend backpacking overnight to allow for enough time to visit the springs before making your 10 mile trek back out - no wilderness permit required!

Though these springs definitely make you work for it, you will be rewarded for your trek with ultimate bask-ablity - cozy springs, free backcountry campsites, and more than likely some new friends.

Popular backcountry camping areas nearby include Sykes Camp and Barlow Camp. You can find more information about backcountry camping at these locations here.

A quick note - this area has been closed in the past because of overuse. As with any time you are in nature, make sure to be respectful, look up all regulations (especially fire restrictions!), leave all nature and wildlife as is, and, as always, consider your impact!

3. Big and Little Caliente Hot Springs, Santa Barbara, CA

Big and Little Caliente: Natural Hot Springs in Santa Barbara, CA

Image by Snappr

About an hour and a half drive outside of Santa Barbara lie a collection of rustic pools called Big and Little Caliente Hot Springs.

The springs are accessible by driving down a 9 mile bumpy dirt road. High clearance and 4WD are recommended, especially if there has been any recent rain.

At the end of the road, a relaxing rustic oasis awaits you. There are three pools in the area - the first is a bigger pool, aptly referred to as “Big Caliente.” Further down are two additional smaller pools referred to as - you guessed it - “Little Caliente.”

The closest campsite is the first-come first-served campground Rock Camp - walking distance to the springs. Other campsites in the area include Middle Santa Ynez Campground, P-Bar Flats, and Mono Campground. While the area is free to visit, know that if you plan to park overnight to stay in any of these campgrounds, you’ll need to pick up an adventure pass for your car!

4. Goldstrike Canyon Hot Springs, Boulder City, NV

nevada hot springs

Heading out of California - let’s visit Goldstrike Canyon Hot Springs in Boulder city, Nevada! Located a quick hour drive outside from Las Vegas, these hot springs offer a reprieve from the bright lights and busyness of the strip.

Unique to the area, the Gold Strike hot springs may appeal to the more adventurous of us. Along the trail to reach the pools there is a series of climbing ropes to assist you down the steep rocks. Once you complete these obstacles, you’ll be met with waterfalls, warm pools, and ample relaxation. Continue down the trail and you’ll come upon the Colorado River - perfect for a cold dip too!

While hiking to the springs, keep your eyes peeled for big horned sheep! The best time to visit is in the Winter and Spring, as temperatures can get very hot in the Summer and hiking the trail is not advised.

5. Inlet Hot Springs, Saratoga Springs, UT

Inlet Hot Springs in Saratoga Springs, UT

Into Utah we go! A state full of hot springs sprinkled amidst forest and desert landscapes alike. Our first stop is the popular spot for locals - Inlet Hot Springs (also known as Saratoga Hot Springs).

This easy-to-access mineral pool is located in Northern Utah, just about a 30-40 minute drive outside of Salt Lake City. Perfect for a day trip with the family, or a quick sunset dip!

This location includes a parking lot, easy walkway, and large pool. Due to its accessibility and location, it is a popular spot among the surrounding neighborhoods, and is a great choice for family and pets. Just be sure, as always, to be respectful of other visitors and to clean up after yourself and your pets.

6. Fifth Water Hot Springs, UT

Fifth Water Hot Springs in Utah

Arguably one of the most scenic natural hot springs in Utah, Fifth Water Hot Springs is a must-see stop. This picturesque spring boasts bright aqua blue water, incredible scenery, multiple pools to soak in, and even a hot water fall.

To access Fifth Water Springs you will need to park in the trailhead parking lot and hike the 2.5 mile scenic trail to the pools. These springs can get a bit crowded, so if it’s a more solitary experience you’re looking for, opt for an early morning or week day visit.

A significant benefit to the popularity of these hot springs is that there is a bathroom available at the trailhead. Use that road trip mentality - use the restroom even if you don’t think you have to go! It may save you later.

7. Homestead Crater, Midway, UT.

Homestead Crater: Natural Hot Spring in Utah

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While this swimming hole doesn’t exactly fit the mold as a primitive, undeveloped hot spring, we thought it was worth mentioning for its unique attributes!

Homestead Crater is a 65 ft deep geothermal pool located inside of a 55 ft limestone dome on the Homestead Farm property. You can visit this pool by making a reservation online at the Homestead Resort website. Not only can you swim and soak in this otherworldly pool, but the resort also offers activities like paddle boarding, snorkeling, and even scuba diving! While it is not a remote location or untouched spring, it is well with the effort to spend some time in this geographical wonder.

8. Rainbow Hot Springs, Pagosa, CO

Rainbow Natural Hot Springs in Colorado

And now to the beautiful state of Colorado! Our first stop: Rainbow Hot Springs. Rainbow Hot Springs is a secluded mineral hot spring located in the San Juan National Forest north of Pagosa Springs, CO. This hot spring requires a 4.5 mile one-way hike (9 miles round trip), but is well worth the journey.

Extraordinary views, solitude, and tranquility are waiting for you at this river-side hot spring. Camping is also allowed in the area, making it a great option for a weekend adventure! Just be sure to respect the area - pack it in, pack it out.

Rainbow Hot Springs consists of three pools, each located directly beside the San Juan River. Try hopping between the chilly river and warm pools for an ultimate experience! For this hike, we recommend you do your research to make sure you don’t get lost - the trail includes some rock scrambling and can be a bit messy to navigate as you get closer to the springs.

Overall this option is a big win based on location alone - you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option for solitude and views!

9. Penny Hot Springs, Carbondale, CO

Penny Hot Springs in Colorado

Image by Jesse Varner

Further north lies this more accessible Colorado hot spring, Penny Springs. This primitive river-side pool is located off of highway 133, just under an hour outside of Aspen. Located just off of the parking area, this spring is a great place for a quick dip with breathtaking scenery! Surrounded by epic mountain views, you are sure to find this spot irresistible.

These particular hot springs in Colorado have been known to overflow in Spring due to snow melt, so the best times to visit are Summer, Fall, and even Winter! No camping is permitted at Penny Hot springs, but the nearby town of Aspen is a hot spot for adventurers, with lots of lodging options.

10. Umpqua Hot Springs, Oregon

Umpqua Natural Hot Springs in Oregon
Image by Devon Hawkins

While these famous hot springs are further North in the PNW than the rest, we would be remiss to not to give them a quick mention here. One of the most popular Hot Springs in Southern Oregon, Umpqua hot springs are a must visit for any hot springs connoisseur!

These cascading pools boast some of the most picturesque experiences you can imagine. Sit back and breathe easy amidst the towering trees and sensational waters, while you bask in the sounds of the forest.

Part of the Umpqua national forest, these springs are close to lots of other outdoor adventures including Toketee Falls, Fall Creek Falls, & Watson Falls. This makes them a perfect end to a day of adventuring, or an ideal jumping off point for a day of water-themed activities! There are also lots of other nearby hot springs to check out - try doing a bit of research and see which ones you like best.

Finally, to enjoy these springs and the surrounding areas, you’ll need to purchase a Northwest Forest Pass online or at a nearby vendor. Make sure you put your pass in your car to avoid a ticket!

There you have it! Next time you are ready to embark on an adventure in the Western US, be sure to include one of these dream destinations into your itinerary. Don’t forget to tag Sunski, and let us know all about your adventures!

Happy Soaking!