Buckeye Hot Springs: Should you visit in 2022?

The Buckeye Hot Springs are not as easily accessible as the other hot spring sites in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. However, it continues to be a special location. Or is it?

Is it still possible to have the same kind of experience that first drew people to Buckeye Hot Springs in 2022?

What factors contribute to a pleasurable experience at a hot springs destination like this?

These are some of the questions I hope to address in this article. Let me fill you in on all you need to know about this location so that you are able to make a choice that is well-informed.

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    • 38° 14' 20.3′′ N 119° 19' 31.6′′ W
    • Closest town: Bridgeport 
    • Type: undeveloped
    • Temperature: between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit
    • Fee: No
    • Hike-in access: Yes
    • Number of pools: 6
    • Clothing is optional.
    • Status: Open

    Sometimes the most challenging places to get to are the ones that end up being the most rewarding. This is due to the fact that areas that are uninhabited and in remote locations tend to retain their natural beauty and are untouched by human activity.

    Away from the bustle of the city, Buckeye Hot Springs, located in Bridgeport, allows one to reconnect with the natural world and all it has to offer. There is a calming and healing atmosphere here, made even more so by the mineral-rich thermal water. It’s no secret that Buckeye Hot Springs is a popular tourist destination.

    Hot Springs

    buckeye hot springs
    Image credit: Google. Volunteers building the stone walls of Buckeye Hot Springs pools in 2006.


    The scalding hot thermal mineral water emerges from its underground source (at 140 degrees Fahrenheit) on the hillside, travels alongside the cool creek, and then finally flows down travertine formations and into the first rock-lined pool. After that, the water from the hot spring is combined with water from the nearby cold creek, which enters the pool through various holes in the surrounding rock walls.

    Moving additional rocks away from the wall will allow more cold water to flow in, allowing you to better control the temperature. Another option is to alternate between soaking in the hot spring and cooling off in the icy creek. This is a wonderful way to benefit from hydrotherapy.

    buckeye hot springs

    There are a few soaking pools scattered around this location, but the main ones are three small rock-lined pools on the edge of a chilly cascading creek. The first pool is the one with the hottest water. The temperature here is about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The first pool serves as the source of water for the other two, which results in lower temperatures in those pools. The pools are about 3 feet deep, which is comfortable enough for a half-body soak.

    When is the best time to visit Buckeye Hot Springs?

    buckeye hot springs

    The best time of day to visit Buckeye Hot Springs is early in the morning because there is a lower chance of other people being there at that time. This means that you will have more time to relax and unwind in the springs all by yourself.

    If you really want to have some time to yourself at the hot springs site, you can set up a tent nearby and then go for a swim in the springs either late at night or very early in the morning. This will give you the opportunity to have some peace and quiet.

    buckeye hot springs

    Buckeye Hot Springs in winter

    The winter months are ideal for travelling to this destination. In these months, it is most likely that there will be very few people using the site.

    However, even though winter is one of the best times to take advantage of hot spring pools, this hot spring site can only be reached by driving on a dirt road, which can be inaccessible because of snow cover. In order to reach the hot springs from the main road, you will have to hike through deep snow.

    Buckeye Hot Springs in the summer

    The summer months are the most popular season to visit the hot springs, which means that this is also the busiest time of the year at Buckeye Hot Springs. This location will always be packed in the summer. This is the time of year when you are most likely to run into the “party crowd,” who enjoy coming in with alcohol and Bluetooth speakers. This is owing to the fact that even if it is really hot outdoors, the cold creek next to the hot pools still provides a refreshing soak.

    Before you go

    buckeye hot springs stone tub

    Note that:

    • It is a public pool, yet there are no rules posted anywhere. There is no way to guarantee that the cleanliness of the soaking tubs will be maintained at any given moment.
    • When there is a significant number of people using the soaking tubs, there is an increased risk of organic and human pollution, which can lead to the growth of infectious bacteria.
    • Even during the weekdays, this location frequently draws large numbers of people. You are most likely to get here and meet a parting crowd.
    • As this is a clothing-optional location, you may probably run into tourists who are swimming around in nothing but their birthday suits.If this is something that worries you, you should probably reconsider coming here.
    • Make sure you check the forecast before you head out. After a rainstorm during the rainy season, the condition of the dirt road may become especially hazardous. In this scenario, a four-wheel-drive vehicle or one with high ground clearance will be required.
    • Because the mobile phone connection is so bad in this area, you should print the directions out on paper instead of relying on your GPS.

    What to bring along?

    • A positive mentality as well as respect for the other soakers
    • Food and water to drink.
    • Your favourite beverage.
    • bathing suit
    • Towels
    • Water footwear is required. This will keep your feet safe while you’re swimming in the pool.
    • Shoes designed for hiking that have a good grip will help you when descending or climbing the steep portion of the trail.
    • If visiting in the winter, bring warm clothing.
    • A garbage bag for you to use when you remove your trash.
    • A camera for that perfect picture
    • Sunscreen lotion, a hat and sunglasses in the summer.
    • Printed directions

    When you get there,

    • Don’t drink the water from the creek. The water may look clean and clear, but it is not safe for drinking.
    • Don’t soak for too long. Break up your soak into short sessions. 
    • Don’t splash in the pools or submerge your head in the water. This is to avoid bacteria or protozoa from entering your body through the nose.
    • Make sure you clean up after yourself and don’t leave anything behind. Do not leave any evidence of your stay. In order to save this priceless natural resource for upcoming generations, we must take action and leave the place better than we found it.

    Camping at Buckeye Hot Springs

    buckeye campground

    There is camping available at Buckeye Campground, located on a dirt road on a ridge overlooking Buckeye Creek. There are 68 campsites at the campground close to the hot springs site on a first-come, first-served basis. You can camp in this Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest area for $20 per night per site. 

    Kindly be aware that you can only stay at this campground during the summer months of May through September. Bear in mind also that there are only three outhouses (pit toilets) and one toilet with a flushing mechanism available on the premises. Therefore, before you arrive, check that you have everything that is necessary with you.

    buckeye campground site
    Image Credit: Google. Buckeye Campground site toilets 


    If you prefer four walls and a proper bed, Mammoth Lakes and Bridgeport are just a few miles away,

    How do you get to Buckeye Hot Springs?

    Buckeye Hot Springs, located in Bridgeport, California, is an off-the-beaten-path location. You’ll have to drive 3.5 km on an unpaved road to get to the trailhead or parking area. From the parking area, a short but steep climb downhill with unstable rock and brush is required to reach the hot springs.

    You must be cautious on the trail because the descent downhill can be treacherous. It is recommended that you wear shoes with a good grip. 

    This hike will demand some agility and effort, but once you reach it, you will be rewarded with stunning views. You can have a long, relaxing bath while listening to the sounds of the babbling brook and birds, which are all provided by nature for free.

    Directions from Highway 395:

    From Bridgeport, head south on Highway 395, turn left onto Twin Lakes Road and travel for approximately 7 miles in this direction. At Doc and Al’s Resort, take a right turn onto Buckeye Road, and travel for approximately 3 miles. This is where the road forks. Take a left turn and drive for another mile on the dirt road, and you will reach the campground.

    Buckeye Hot Springs Map

    Activities near Buckeye Hot Springs

    There are other activities that you can engage in while on your trip to Buckeye Hot Springs. 

    • Visit Twin Lakes. This location is just about 4 miles from the hot springs site. Twin Lakes is a beautiful place to hike and fish. 
    • Visit Travertine Hot Springs. This site is just a few miles from Buckeye. The surrounding landscape here is stunning. Just watching the sunset behind the Sierra Mountains is enough reason to visit this location. Add to that the hot springs, which can be an alternative if Buckeye is full. 
    • Trout fishing at the creeks
    • Sawtooth Ridge and Hoover Wilderness trails are for hiking.

    Final Thoughts

    As natural beings, it is important to return to nature, even if only briefly, to reconnect with where we came from. To simply sit, relax, and listen to nature’s music.

    But, to really experience the healing powers of nature, we recommend leaving your phone and other electronic devices at home. Just sit, relax, and listen to the white noise produced by the cascading creek. A magical place like this is rare, so come and soak in the nature of it all.

    Now back to the question: Should you visit this location in 2022? The answer is yes. The journey to Buckeye Hot Springs is difficult, and once there, you may have to deal with a rowdy crowd determined to ruin your experience. Despite this, the reward is well worth the effort.

    Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you found what you were looking for. Have you been to this hot springs site yet? Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or advice for your fellow adventurers.

    Buckeye Hot Springs-FAQs

    Is it possible to camp anywhere for free near Buckeye Hot Springs?

    Yes. All you need to do is to find a good location in the sage brush close to the parking lot.

    Can one visit the hot springs site in December?

    Yes. Enjoying the soaking pools in relative seclusion during the colder months of the year is one of the many benefits of visiting during this time of year. Be aware, however, that there will be some hiking involved in snowy terrain, and it’s possible that you’ll need a vehicle with four-wheel drive.

    Is there any closing and opening hours at Buckeye Hot Springs?

    There is no opening or closing hour here. The location is accessible at any time of the year and at any time of day.

    Do I have to pay a fee to use the hot spring pools?

    Buckeye Hot Springs is completely free to use.

    When is the busiest time of day at Buckeye Hot Springs?

    In the afternoon, there will be a large number of people at the hot springs site. However, by late afternoon and sunset, the majority of the people who were there to soak will have already left.

    Do I need a 4WD vehicle to travel to Buckeye Hot Springs in the summer?

    During the months when it is dry, this journey can be completed by any vehicle. The majority of the trip will be traveled on US Highway 395, which is paved the whole way. The final few miles, which are dirt, are usually in good condition.

    Are dogs allowed at Buckeye Hot Springs?

    Your dogs are welcome, but you are expected to keep them out of the pools and on a leash.

    Is the temperature at the hot spring pools cold during winter?

    Even in the middle of winter, the hot spring pools maintain their temperature. In fact, this season is ideal for taking advantage of these thermal soaking pools.

    How is Buckeye Hot Springs rated?

    On a scale of 1 to 5, Buckeye is rated 4.0.

    Is Buckeye Hot Springs good for kids?

    It is recommended that families bring their children to the location of this hot spring during the less busy hours of the day. The only difficulty that will be encountered is getting there. Although the trail is not very long, it has some very steep inclines. And it’s possible that the slope is too steep for kids to safely descend on their own.

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