Few outdoor experiences are as relaxing as sitting in a natural hot springs pool. Imagine sitting in a hot spring as a cool creek rushes past you. This is the Buckeye Hot Springs experience, located in northern California.
Buckeye Hot Springs Near Bridgeport
Located near the tiny, wild town of Bridgeport, California, Buckeye Hot Springs is less visited than their famous neighbor, the Travertine Hot Springs. However, Buckeye offers three campgrounds and easy driving access to a historical town. It is also a quiet experience for those who are seeking a weekend vacation in nature. However, it is not remote and locals still visit frequently.
These hot springs are fed by a hot springs waterfall and are picturesquely tucked next to a flowing creek. You can visit any time of the year, as the springs are warm even in the winter when there is snow on the ground. However, this is a location that is more heavily visited in the summer, when the creek provides cool relief from the three hot mineral pools.
You can camp at the nearby Buckeye Campground, which is a quiet campground located on federal land in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. This forested campground has many pine trees and is a peaceful and remote place to camp. You cannot make a reservation here, so this is a first-come, first-served place that is rare to sell out unless you arrive later in the day or on a summer weekend. Fees are $20 per night per site, and if you have a second car, it is $6 per night extra.
This is no-frills camping. For example, there are four simple toilets – three of which are non-flush toilets – and you have to bring in your water.
Buckeye Campground has 68 campsites and is open from May to September. If you are interested in a winter visit, you’ll need to stay in Bridgeport (see below).
Note: Do not make a reservation at the similarly-named Buckeye Flat Campground, also in California. This is the Buckeye Campground, at which you cannot make a reservation.
Other Accommodation Options
If Buckeye Campground is full, you may choose to camp at the nearby Honeymoon Flat Campground, which you can reserve on Recreation.Gov. You can also camp at local favorite, Doc and Al’s Camp and Cabin, a few minutes away from Buckeye.
If you’re visiting Buckeye Hot Springs in the winter or prefer to stay somewhere with more amenities, there are good options nearby. For instance, Virginia Creek Settlement in nearby Bridgeport costs less than $100 per night (when we looked in the summer, it was $59 per night) and offers log cabin rooms, a motel, and even covered wagons. The Bridgeport Inn is another popular choice in town for less than $100 per night. Both locations offer restaurant food.
Buckeye Hot Springs History
Like most hot springs across California, indigenous people local to Mono County used these hot springs. These hot springs provided bathing, warmth in the winter, and even medical healing properties. The Northern Paiute continue to live in the Bridgeport area and include people registered with the Miwok, Mono, Paiute, Shoshone, and Washoe nations.
This hot spring was also a site of a geothermal mine, where settlers mined for gold and other resources.
Buckeye Hot Springs Directions
Buckeye Hot Springs is so remote that you’ll need to open your map and find it. The springs are located nearly a 5-hour drive from San Francisco and a 6-hour drive from Los Angeles. You’d better fly into Nevada to see this natural wonder; you’re only a 2-hour drive from Reno. Alternatively, you can visit from the Lake Tahoe area, which is two hours away from Buckeye.
Buckeye Hot Springs Map
Driving Directions to the Buckeye Campground
From Reno or Lake Tahoe, drive 395 South freeway. If you’re traveling south towards Bridgeport, you’ll turn right on the Buckeye Road exit. For approximately six miles down that road, or 20 minutes, you will arrive at the Buckeye Campground. From there, you’ll hike towards the hot springs.
If you are traveling north from Southern California, you’ll take the 395 North freeway before exiting left on the Twin Lakes Road exit. You’ll drive approximately seven miles before you take a right on Buckeye Road at Doc and Al’s Resort. From there you’ll drive approximately three miles before taking a left and driving another mile to the Buckeye Campground. The trailhead is located in the campground.
Hiking Directions to the Buckeye Hot Springs
There is a short trail from the campground to the hot springs. You’ll hike close to Buckeye Creek and find three warm pools, fed by a hot springs waterfall.
Nudity and Hot Springs
Like many other hot springs, Buckeye is a clothing-optional location. If you are uncomfortable with others’ nudity, remember that you are not required to disrobe yourself and that many will visit these hot springs wearing their swimsuits. If you are shy around others’ nudity, these hot springs may not be for you.
Politeness and Other Considerations
Remember that camping is not allowed at the creek. In addition, there is no trash can near the water, so prepare to take your trash out with you. Bring water to drink, as sitting in hot springs can dehydrate you. Be sure to check in on the county’s fire regulations, as the state’s drought and wildfire risk may mean that you aren’t allowed to light a fire or even smoke.
Buckeye Hot Springs Soak Stats
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
GPS: 38.24009593248498, -119.32560840090257
Federal Land: Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
Elevation: 6,959 Feet (2,121 Meters)
Fees: $20 per night for camping; otherwise free
Temp: Between 100°F (37.8 °C) to 140°F (60 °C)
Area Features: Twin Lakes, Mono Lake, northeast Yosemite National Park Closest Gas and Food: Bridgeport, CA
Camping: Buckeye Campground, Honeymoon Flat Campground, Doc and Al’s Camp and Cabin, and nearby public lands
Clothing Optional: Yes
Pit Toilet: Yes, at Buckeye Campground