By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
inter travel doesn’t have to be about playing in the snow, carving your way down a slope in deep powder or finding a warm, sunny beach. You can soak your cares (and stress) away in natural geothermal pools and frolic in volcanic mud (it’s amazing for your skin.)
For centuries people have visited natural mineral springs to “take the waters.” Hot springs have been touted as a way to improve health and relieve aches and pains. Once reserved only for the wealthy, affordable geothermal hot springs resorts are available throughout California.
Stewart Mineral Springs
4617 Stewart Springs Road, Weed
Soak up healing mineral waters and drink in the view of Mount Shasta from the private wilderness oasis of rustic Stewart Mineral Springs.
Indulge in private mineral baths, massage treatments and a wood stove sauna. Cozy cabins nestled in the forest have a queen bed, wood burning stove, bathroom with shower and a kitchenette with fridge, microwave, hotplate and coffee maker start at $120 a night. Apartments, with private bathroom and a small kitchen with a fridge, microwave, hot plate and coffee maker, start at $100 a night.
A variety of “spa” experiences are offered, including massage therapy. “Taking the Baths” offers a 75-minute mineral water soak, wood-fired sauna, creek plunge and towel rental for $35.
Indian Springs Resort & Spa
1712 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga
The historic Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga has been in operation since 1861. It is the oldest perennial spa in California.
Set amidst 17 acres of olive and palm trees, with four thermal geysers, the resort includes a variety of Mission Revival style lodges, shabby-chic cottages, modern bungalows and free-standing homes. The showpiece is a 1913 Olympic-size pool with a naturally heated, adult-only pool nearby. The best time to visit the mineral-fed pools is around 9:30 p.m. when you can float on your back in the 102-degree water and look up at the stars.
The four on-site thermal geysers supply a stream of mineral water, plus a substantial deposit of pure volcanic ash runs through the property. Water and ash are combined to create the mud in the famous mud baths, and the water is fed directly into the mineral pool, steam rooms and Buddha Pond. Room rates vary depending on when you visit. If booked far enough in advance you can find rooms for less than $250. High-season rates can soar into the range of $500-plus a night.
The Spring Resort and Spa
12699 Reposo Way, Desert Hot Springs
Less than two hours from Los Angeles exists one of the greatest natural geothermal mineral springs regions in the world. Desert Hot Springs waters have been compared to the famous healing mineral springs spas of Baden-Baden (Germany) and Evian (France).
Crystal-clear waters rise from underground at 170 degrees, filling the resort’s three sparkling mineral pools. This intimate, palm-tree-lined resort offers a variety of room options, some with outdoor soaking tubs. The spa offers a full range of services including facials, massages, saunas and more.
Rooms offered from $230 a night depending on date and advance booking.
Mercey Hot Springs
62964 Little Panoche Road, Firebaugh
Well off the beaten path and far from a “luxury” resort, Mercey Hot Springs is described by many visitors as “rustic and remote, but also historic and charming.” Visitors can book stays in cabins or Airstream trailers from $165 a night. RV and tent camping sites available from $50/person per night. Massage and yoga offered.
Vichy Springs Resort
2605 Vichy Springs Road, Ukiah
Vichy Springs Resort is a unique 165-year-old historic hot springs resort two hours north of San Francisco. Vichy Springs offers the only naturally warm and carbonated “Vichy” mineral baths in North America. The waters have the same carbon-
dioxide-rich makeup as the famous carbonated waters of Vichy, France.
A half-hour walk leads to Chemisal Falls, where you can plunge into the creek’s chilly pool. Famous Vichy Springs soakers have included Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Jack London.
Depending on season and advance booking, rooms (and cottages) run from $200 to $500 a night. Included is breakfast, use of the “Vichy” mineral baths, hot soaking pool, Olympic size swimming pool (in season) and 700 private acres for walking and hiking.