Adventure into the rain-shadowed desert foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains to a cluster of undeveloped hot springs on the Deep Creek fork of the Mojave River. Surrounded by the lush vegetation of willows and other various trees, the natural hot pools transport you into a parallel universe. The cool waters of the Mojave River provide a refreshing reprieve while a small sandy beach beckons to sun-worshipers.
Deep Creek Hot Springs in the San Bernardino National Forest
Deep Creek is a non-commercial hot spring located in the majestic San Bernardino National Forest about 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and 8 miles north of Lake Arrowhead. The hot springs serve as a source of relaxation and a refuge for people who want to get away and enjoy the health benefits of mineral water. Once a little-known oasis, Deep Creek Hot Springs now opens its arms to many who have discovered it.
It’s also known as a safe haven for those who prance sans clothing and as a welcome stopover for the fortunate PCT hiker. It should be noted that Deep Creek is one of the many clothing-optional hot springs in California where nudity is extremely common, but not required.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Guide
- Hot Pool Information
- Tips for Visiting
- Northern Route
- Southern Route
- Western Route
- Need to Know
- Soak Stats
Deep Creek Hot Springs Hot Pools
There are usually 6 to 7 total geothermal pools to be enjoyed during a visit to Deep Creek. The 5 primary hot pools typically range in temperature from 100 to 105 degrees. The uppermost pool is perfectly sized for 1 or 2 intrepid soak seekers and sports the warmest temperature. Don’t forget about the hot shower located directly below!
The most popular hot spring pool contains ample space for housing at least a dozen happy hot potters, its prime location and ideal temperature makes for an excellent location to meet or make friends. The largest of the group is actually big enough to swim in. Being a bit cooler than the smaller pools makes it exceptional for water recreation! This hot pool is also the most secluded of the group, allowing for a bit more privacy.
Further along the Deep Creek Fork of the Mojave River, there are a smattering of other geothermal pools, all slightly varying in temperature. The water temperature of the majority of the pools averages over 100 degrees. Deep Creek Hot Springs is also clothing optional; please bear in mind that this only applies in the vicinity of the hot springs and clothing is required on the trail.
Tips for Visiting Deep Creek Hot Springs
Deep Creek Hot Springs is a popular destination located in the Mojave Desert of California. If you’re planning a visit, here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:
- Plan ahead and make sure to check the weather forecast before you go. The hot springs are located in a desert environment, so it’s important to be prepared for extreme temperatures, especially during the summer months.
- Due to hot summers and high water winters (submerged pools), spring and fall are the best times of the year for visiting.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks, as the nearest town is several miles away. It’s also a good idea to pack sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Be aware that the hot springs are located on public land, so there are no facilities or amenities. This means that you’ll need to bring everything you need, including towels and chairs.
- The hot springs are accessible by a moderate hike, so make sure you’re prepared for the journey. Wear appropriate footwear and bring a map or GPS device to help you navigate the trail.
- Do not submerge your head in the hot springs as they are known to contain a rare and sometimes fatal disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
- Remember to leave no trace and respect the natural environment. This means packing out any trash you bring in and not disturbing the plants and wildlife.
- Finally, enjoy the beautiful scenery and the relaxing atmosphere of the hot springs. Take some time to unwind and soak in the warm waters, and be sure to bring a camera to capture the memories of your trip.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions
How do you get to Deep Creek Hot Springs?
Deep Creek Hot Springs is available for daytime use only as visiting at night is strictly prohibited. There is no charge to use the hot pools, but you may be required to pay an entrance fee to access the San Bernardino National Forest if coming from Bowen Ranch. To reach the hot pools at Deep Creek, you can choose from three routes.
3 Possible Routes
- The northern route via Bowen Ranch Tail: 2 miles of challenging and steep terrain with a creek ford at the end (most popular)
- The southern route via Bradford Ridge Trail: 2.5 miles of challenging and steep terrain (without a river ford)
- The western route via Pacific Coast Trail (PCT): 6 miles of flat and less challenging terrain (no river fords)
It is advised you begin hiking no later than mid-afternoon to get there on time and depart before nightfall.
How long does it take to hike Deep Creek Hot Springs?
Depending on which trail route you take and your hiking ability, it typically takes around 2-3 hours on average to reach the hot pools.
Deep Creek Route Information
Northern Route – Bowen Ranch Trail (Most Popular)
From the Bear Valley Exit off I-15: If you are heading from the north, turn left and from the south, turn right. You will then continue east on Bear Valley Road for approximately 10 miles until you get to Central Road where you will turn right and drive 3 miles to Ocotillo Road past the railroad tracks and over the hill. Turn left when you get to Ocotillo and drive for 2.2 miles until you get to Bowen Ranch Road, this part of the road is a dirt track. Turn right on Bowen Ranch Road and drive for 6 miles until you get to the Bowen Ranch Parking Lot. The trailhead for the hot springs is at the south end of the parking lot. There is a $5 parking fee at Bowen Ranch.
The trailhead is at the south end of the parking lot and is clearly marked. The trail is about 2 miles long with an elevation change of about 900 feet. The hot springs are located on the opposite side of the creek, which you’ll need to ford. Be sure to follow the markers along the way, which will help keep you from getting lost to and from the springs. Bowen Ranch also provides a simplistic map of the trail. It should take around 1 hour to reach the hot pools and 2 hours to get back to the trailhead.
Southern Route – Bradford Ridge Trail
From Lake Arrowhead, head southwest on Mittry Dr toward Highway 173. Then follow Highway 189 for 1.5 miles to N Bay Rd. Take N Bay Rd 2.6 miles to N Grass Valley Rd. Continue on Highway 173 for an additional 4.6 miles to the trailhead.
Head across the street to reach the trailhead. You’ll need to go around the gate. This trail is about 2.5 miles and is well marked. The descent into Deep Creek Canyon is quite steep, but the first part of the trail is gradual and relatively easy-going. Before the final descent, the trail forks. To the left is the ridge trail, and to the right takes you into the small canyon. The left fork along the Bradford Ridge is the preferred trail and follows the PCT. Stick to your right and you’ll arrive at the hot springs in no time. bonus; no river ford!
Western Route – Pacific Coast Trail (PCT)
Exit I-15 at Highway 138 and head southeast until you reach Highway 173. Turn left on Highway 173 before Lake Silverwood. Keep traveling on Highway 173 past the turnoff for Hesperia until it becomes dirt. Drive carefully along this winding dirt road for about 5 miles. At mile 4 you’ll cross a white wooden bridge. Keep going until you come to a concrete bridge. There is a small parking area on the right.
Follow the well-established Pacific Coast trail east approximately 6 miles directly to the hot pools. Look for the trailhead near the dam. There’s a short but steep ascent for a few hundred yards before the trail levels out.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Map
Camping at Deep Creek
Can I camp at Deep Creek Hot Springs?
No. Camping is not permitted closer than a mile away from the Deep Creek Hot Springs.
Where can I camp at Deep Creek Hot Springs?
Nearby camping options: Bowen Ranch offers camping on their property for a nominal fee. Their campsites are about 1/2 mile further down the road from the trailhead and parking area. Due to the popularity of the area, it is always a good idea to make sure to pay your fees before heading to your campsite. There are approximately 5 developed sites with picnic tables and fire rings.
If Bowen Ranch isn’t your style, you might try one of the primitive campsites dispersed throughout nearby public lands. A couple of other developed campgrounds can be found at Lake Arrowhead and Silverwood Lake.
There are several campgrounds in the San Bernardino National Forest to choose from. Some of the more popular locations are Arrowhead Campground, Big Bear Campground, San Gorgonio, and San Jacinto. Arrowhead Campground includes over 170 campsites. The Big Bear Campground has over 190 sites. San Gorgonio campground offers 230 sites. San Jacinto Campground offers 112 campsites.
The hot springs at Deep Creek have been around for centuries and served as an oasis for Native American Indian tribes that resided in the area. The San Bernardino National Forest, where Deep Creek Hot Springs is located, was established in 1907 and is a popular attraction for people from all over the country who enjoy unique outdoor experiences.
Additional Need to Know
While Deep Creek Hot Springs is well known for being a place where nude is the norm, birthday suits are not required by any means to partake in the springs. Please take this into consideration before visiting. If you are not comfortable with seeing and interacting with those without clothing, this might not be the hot spring for you.
- Closed from sunset to sunrise.
- No camping is permitted within 1 mile of Deep Creek.
- No campfires, fires or stoves are allowed in the drainage basin.
- No glass allowed.
- Bring plenty of water! Snacks are a great idea too.
- As always – pack it in, pack it out!
Can you swim in Deep Creek Hot Springs?
Warning: The hot pools of Deep Creek contain a rare and sometimes fatal disease called primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). PAM is caused by a microscopic amoeba that can enter the brain through the nose. To avoid infection, do not submerge your head in the hot springs.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Soak Stats:
Season: Spring and Fall (winter is often too dangerous due to high water conditions)
Type: Backpack, Hike (4-12 miles RT depending on route)
GPS: 34.339393 -117.176963
Map Quad: San Bernardino National Forest
Elevation: 3,000 ft
Land: San Bernardino National Forest
Fee: Bowen Ranch parking has a fee
Restrictions: Under nighttime closure, no campfires, no glass, high clearance vehicles recommended for trailhead access
Water Clarity: Moderate
Area Features: Silverwood Lake Swim Beach, Lake Gregory Regional Park
Closest Food/Gas: Lake Arrowhead, Hesperia
Camping: Bowen Ranch and nearby public lands, no camping at or near hot springs or in the valley
Pit Toilet: Yes
Desert Hot Springs
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