Travertine Hot Springs

Lake Tahoe and the surrounding northern California and Nevada regions are stunning and offer, to me, a quality of life that’s unbeatable and highly fulfilling. And one of the aspects I love most about this natural and stunning region is how many amazing places their are to visit within a three-to-four hour drive. I fully believe you could spend several years going on amazing weekend road trips to places you never imagined, from camping at hidden beaches to exploring secret ghost towns accessible only by horseback.

However, sometimes you don’t have a whole weekend. That’s where awesome day trips in the region come in. One amazing, unique, off-the-radar spot for a day trip? Well, it’s just two hours from Lake Tahoe, and it’s called Travertine Hot Springs.

Located just south of Bridgeport, CA, Travertine Hot Springs is an easily accessible natural hot spring. In fact, it’s actually three hot springs, and maybe more, if you search around for long enough. The highlight of Travertine is, of course, the multi-pool rock formation, into which water naturally heated by pressure in the earth flows. It comes out at around 103 degrees, but it’s cooler in the pools. Think more “warm bath” than “hot tub.”

The water flows out of cracks in the earth above the pools at very high temperatures.

Though the spring described above has the best views of the Eastern Sierra’s valleys and distant peaks, there’s actually a hotter pool about 300 yards down the hill. If you walk past the multi-pool spring and follow a foot-beaten trail down the hill, you’ll come to a second pool, both smaller and warmer than the first. The maximum size I’d recommend for this pool is two people, especially as it’s only about two feet deep, so you’ll want room to submerge yourself.

Not feeling like trekking through the hillside in a swimsuit? Never fear, as there’s a pool close to the parking area. In fact, it’s so close, it’s easy to miss. It’s near the front of the parking area on the right, and it’s actually the warmest of the pools. It’s the most developed as well, as it’s been paved and features astroturf around the edges. This one is larger and could accommodate about six people.

To show the scale: a general rule of etiquette is to not climb in a pool someone else is in if others are empty

Both pools are clothing optional, though folks tend to wear swimsuits in the ones closest to the parking lot. There is a bathroom lean-to near the parking site, but that’s about it in the way of facilities. The road to get there is passable but does often have potholes and muddy spots, so while you don’t need four-wheel drive, you probably do want a decent clearance and/or the ability to dodge holes while driving.

If you’re planning on staying for a while, bring water and food. Nearby Bridgeport has a handful of really cute little restaurants and diners to stop by before or after, too.

Here’s a map. If you go, please be sure to avoid stepping on baby plants, don’t leave ANY trash, and have as little impact on the surroundings as possible.

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