One upside to living on a perilous fault line is the abundance of natural thermal springs. The hot water bubbling up from the depths in places like Apple Valley has something to do with hydrothermal convection, which sounds sciencey and complicated but mostly just means you can get naked with strangers and immerse yourself in healing minerals.
Out of sheer kindness, your friendly neighborhood National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps a detailed map of every known thermal spring in these United States, with temperature categories ranging from “warm” to “boiling.”
There’s an abundance of hot springs within driving distance of Los Angeles, many off the beaten path. Here are a few of particular interest.
One of the most popular hot springs accessible from L.A., this one clocks in at 108 degrees. Worth noting: There’s an intimidating guy with a gun guarding the front entrance, and the back route involves clambering down an insanely steep trail. So, take your pick, and heed the advice of Yelp before heading up to Apple Valley.
This resort down in Corona has several thermal mineral pools, a red clay mud bath, saunas, a saline pool, and fitness classes. Daily admission is $49 on weekdays and $68 on weekends and holidays.
Gilman Hot Springs
A 1920s-era resort east of Riverside once boasted pools rich with black sulphur, white sulphur, soda, and lithia. Then the Church of Scientology bought the property and built their super secret Gold Base compound and terrifying “prison camp” called The Hole. So yeah, probably steer clear of this one.
Venture up into the wilderness northeast of Ojai, and you’ll be rewarded with bighorn sheep sightings and nearly 200 degree hot springs. You’ll need to make a backpacking trip of this one, ideally starting at the Piedra Blanca Trailhead. It’s nearly 20 miles, but the hiking’s not too difficult. More on all that here.