This is a concise but complete overview of Travertine Hot Springs in California. In just a few minutes, you will learn all the important details about this postcard-worthy location. You will also learn about other hot spring options in the area that you can explore.
Travertine Hot Springs does not have everything perfect. So, being aware of these flaws before you get there will help you frame your expectations and prevent disappointments.
The ‘Before you go’ and ‘When you get there’ sections are essential. Don’t skip them.
It’s also a good idea to be aware of other interesting destinations near this hot springs site. The best locations to visit to make your trip through this area worthwhile will be revealed toward the end of this article.
- Location: 38°14′44″N 119°12′19″W
- Address: Bridgeport CA 93517
- Type: Undeveloped
- Temperature: Between 115°F and 156°F
- Water composition: sulfur, calcium carbonate, chloride, silicate, sodium, potassium, magnesium.
- Fee: No
- Hike-in access: Yes (Short)
- Vehicle access: Yes
- Number of pools: 6
- Rule: Clothing optional
Travertine terraces are among the most beautiful rock formations on the planet. They’re a unique and beautiful type of limestone formed when hot ground water evaporates and leaves calcium carbonate deposits around the mouth of hot springs.
The Travertine Hot Springs, named after the rock formations on the site, are located on several travertine terraces overlooking the Eastern Sierra mountains near Bridgeport, California. These unusual rock formations, combined with the beautiful view of the Sierra Mountains in the distance, are reason enough to visit this location.
A bit of history
Thousands of years ago, the area’s indigenous people and early settlers once revered this location as a sacred space and used the hot mineral water there for cleansing and healing. More recently, this location was mined in the mid-1890s for travertine, which is a decorative stone used in building construction. For instance, travertine from this site was used to build the interior facings of the San Francesco City Hall.
The hot mineral water bubbles out of several cracks in the ground at a scalding temperature of around 180°F. The temperature drops to between 115°F and 156°F as the water flows through the terraces and into the rock-lined soaking pools.
There are six rustic soaking pools in the area, some of which are man-made and others which are natural. Just off the parking lot is a warm pool nicknamed the ‘Lazy Man’s Pool’. This pool is ADA accessible so that even those who can’t trek the short distance to other pools can enjoy the hot springs. Because of its closeness to the parking lot, this pool is always crowded.
Other pools, hotter than the first one, are just a short hike away. This hike will take you to four large pools connected to each other. The first pool closest to the source is the hottest. The temperature of the water in this pool is about 158 degrees Fahrenheit. The water gets cooler as you move from the first to the last. Simply walk around until you find one that suits your needs. You can test the temperature of these pools with your fingers or toes.
Also, note that the temperature of the water here fluctuates depending on the season. You may arrive here and find out that all the pools are lukewarm.
Some of the soaking pools on the site are small, about 1.5 to 2 feet deep and can seat only 2 to 3 people at a time. The bigger pools are only about 3 feet deep and can seat about 10 persons comfortably.
The bottom of the hot spring soaking pools is covered with what looks like black mud, the type of expensive substance applied to the face in saloons. The pools also have a faint smell of sulfur, confirming the presence of sulfur in the water. This element has been shown to have beneficial effects on the skin and hair.
What are the best times to visit Travertine Hot Springs?
The site is open all year round and is a popular spot for both locals and visitors. So, expect to find some crowd in the area, especially on weekends and holidays. The most popular days of the week at the site are Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to about 9 pm. Fridays are also very busy from 3 pm to about 7 pm. Mid-week is the least popular day at the hot springs.
If you want to have some privacy, consider visiting very early on a weekday. This way you will be able have the pools to yourself for a little while before the crowd starts coming in.
Another option is to camp nearby and have a relaxing soak at night. Taking a dip in the rejuvenating water at night is an experience you will treasure for a long time. This option will also give you the opportunity to have an early soak while watching the sunrise behind the Sierra mountains.
The best season to visit would be the spring months. The weather at this time is moderate and the scenery more beautiful and perfect for photographs. Unfortunately, this season is also the busiest at the site.
You are most likely to meet fewer people at the hot spring site in winter for sure.
Before you go
Although Travertine Hot Springs is a lovely place, it is not without its flaws. To properly weigh your options, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- The usage of this hot springs site is high. Expect lots of noisy people.
- These are low flow springs. What this implies is that the circulation required to self-cleanse the water will be low when in high use. This may result in the increased growth of microorganisms in the water.
- The more microorganisms you have in the pools, the higher the risk of infection.
- The location is free and public with no written rules. This implies that visitors won’t care about what they take with them into the water as far as hygiene is concerned.
- There is no place to clean off after soaking in the hot pools.
- Some people develop skin rash after soaking in the pools for an extended period of time.
- Don’t soak in the hot pools for too long.
- Prepare for bugs in the summer.
- If visiting during the winter months, the dirt road off the highway may become impassible because of snow cover. In this case, you may have to park by the road side and hike through the snow to the hot springs.
- Print out directions on paper. This is because the cell reception here is poor and your GPS may cut off.
What to bring along
- Respect for the land and a good attitude.
- A camera for that perfect picture. This is a one of the best photo locations in California
- Lots of drinking water and food.
- Your favorite beverage.
- Water shoes. This will protect your feet as you wade in the water.
- Sunscreen lotion, a hat and sunglasses. The hot springs site has no shade and during summer you will be exposed.
- Warm clothes in winter.
- Swimming suits.
- Trash bags to pack out your trash.
- A change of clothes.
- If possible, a few gallons of water in your car boot to rince off until you have a proper shower.
When you get there
- First check the condition of the water before you go in. Too much algal growth on the surface is an indication of high pollutants in the water and a favorable condition for bacterial growth.
- Test the temperature of the water before you soak, at least with your fingers. You don’t want to step into a scalding hot pool here. There is no cold plunge close by where you can cool off if it gets too hot.
- If camping, break up your soak into short sessions. This way you can minimize your exposure to microorganisms.
- Do not drink the water in the pools.
- Do not submerge your head or splash in the water. This is a precaution against the entrance of protozoa or bacteria through the nose.
- Do not bring bottles to the site.
- Leave no trace of your visit. Pack out whatever you pack in.
- Be conscious of the sensitive habitat
- You may find some wildlife such as cows grazing nearby.
Travertine Hot Springs Camping
Camping is not permitted in the immediate vicinity of the hot springs.
However, Travertine Hot Springs is on Forest Service land, so there are free camping spots in the area.
Consider arriving at sunset and camping near the hot springs site if you want some peace and quiet.
Nothing beats a relaxing soak in a hot spring pool under the stars, with the Eastern Sierra silhouettes in the distance. At least for a while, this dreamscape scenery will make you forget about everything else.
It’s also important to keep in mind that this location is very basic. There are no other facilities on site except a pit toilet near the parking lot, so bring everything you’ll need. RV camping is most suitable here.
How to get to Travertine Hot Springs
Travertine Hot Springs is one of the hot spring sites located off the scenic US Highway 395. This route is completely paved except for the last few miles of the route to the springs. Any vehicle can make this trip (except after it rains) and you can drive right up to the hot springs.
From Bridgeport, head out of town on Highway 395 South. Just before you get to the Rangers Station, turn left onto Jack Sawyer Road. After about 0.2 miles, the road splits. Keep left to continue on a dirt road. After about 1.1 mile drive you will arrive at a small parking lot with a pit toilet structure on one side. This is your destination. The walk to the main soaking pools from the parking lot is short and easy.
Travertine Hot Springs Map
Other Sierra Hot Springs close to Travertine Hot Springs
There are a few other hot springs Eastern Sierra that share the same geothermal system with Travertine. Most of them are located off US Highway 395 and easy to access. These serve as good alternatives to explore when you are in the area.
- Wild Willy’s Hot Springs: A stunning location with a hot natural jacuzzi where you can take a dip in the middle of a picturesque landscape.
- Rock Tub Hot Springs: A single hot tub in the middle of a meadow surrounded by the Beautiful Eastern Sierra Mountains.
- Hilltop Hot Springs: One of the alternatives to Travertine Hot Springs where you are guaranteed a relaxing and rejuvenation soak amidst the Sierra Mountains.
- Crab Cooker Hot Springs: Although temporarily closed at the moment, it is one of the favorite spots for soaking.
- Buckeye Hot Springs: This is the next-door neighbor to Travertine Hot Springs. Although not easily accessible like Travertine, it is still a popular location for both locals and visitors. Because of the secluded nature of this location, you are more likely to find some privacy here.
- Shepherd Hot Springs: Also a single soaking pool located in the middle of a meadow surrounded by the Sierra Mountain range.
Attractions near Travertine Hot Springs, Bridgeport
Travertine hot springs are often visited as a side trip while driving to other destinations along US Highway 395. The following locations are worthwhile trips if you’re curious about nearby towns or locations to Travertine Hot Springs.
Located in Bridgeport Valley, on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and bordering the Yosemite National park, this privately owned property offers lush green meadows and scenic mountain trails. The main attractions here are hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, trout fishing and many other recreational activities for nature enthusiasts.
This is a pair of lakes located about 10 miles from Bridgeport. The major attractions here are boating, hiking, fishing and camping. You are free to explore this area on your own or check-in at the Twin Lakes Resort. The resort is a perfect place for a family vacation and is located along the lakeside. They offer cabin rentals, RV, campsites, trout fishing and more.
This is a beautiful place to have a great time with family. It is located north of the town of Bridgeport, off Highway 182 on the Eastern Sierra Nevada and 1 hour from Mammoth Lakes. The main attractions here are boating, and trout fishing. The views are stunning and just sitting and viewing the water at sunrise or sunset is a beautiful experience. There is also a resort overlooking the reservoir which offers RV hookups, camping, kayaking, biking, ATV off-road riding, sailing, water skiing, horseback riding and fishing.
Mono County Museum:
The Mono County Historical Society(MCHS) owns and runs this museum, which first welcomed visitors in 1965. The museum preserves and exhibits local artifacts, images, and records related to the history of northern Mono County and the Bridgeport Valley.
This lake can serve as both a rest stop for hikers and a standalone destination. The hike to the lake is among the most scenic hikes you will ever take, and the views and water are both beautiful. This Lake is located in the Hoover Wilderness just outside of Bridgeport.
Yosemite National Park:
This is one of the most gorgeous places to explore and spend a day outdoors thanks to its many trails, vast forests, and mountains. Yosemite National Park was named a World Heritage Site in 1984 and is renowned for its diverse and abundant plant and animal life, lakes, waterfalls, crystal-clear streams, granite cliffs, enormous sequoia groves, glaciers, majestic mountains, and grasslands.
Travertine Hot Springs is one of the best locations to have a quick soak while on a road trip. Although the site may not appear or feel like a destination, it is undoubtedly worth visiting. You can hike around the area and enjoy the peace and natural environment even if you don’t want to get in the water.
Travertine Hot Springs- FAQs
Is Travertine Hot Springs Open?
Yes. The hot springs site is open year-round and all day.
Does Travertine Hot Springs have an entrance fee?
There is no payment for parking here and the hot spring pools are all yours to use for free.
Is Travertine Hot Springs near Yosemite?
Yes. This site is frequently visited by adventurers on their way to Yosemite National Park.
Can I go to Travertine Hot Springs in Winter?
Yes. One of the best times of year to visit this hot spring site is winter. When there is too much snow, the dirt road leading to the parking area may not be passable; in that case, you must hike from the main road to the hot springs site.
Is Travertine Hot Springs clothing optional?
Yes. Even though it isn’t explicitly stated anywhere, there is a clothing-optional rule in place here. Clothing is not required at California’s most remote hot springs site. Here, it’s most likely that both visitors and locals will be soaking nude. Also, if you’re travelling with teenagers, this is something to think about before stopping.
Is Travertine Hot Springs Crowded?
The possibility of meeting a crowd here is high especially on weekends.
Is there hiking to access Travertine Hot Springs?
If you travel during the winter and there is a lot of snow, then yes. However, during other times of the year, the distance to the pools from the parking lot is more or less a stroll.