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Deep Creek Hot Springs in California
Adventure into the rain shadowed desert foothills of the San Bernadino Mountains to a cluster of undeveloped hot springs on the Deep Creek fork of the Mojave River.
Surrounded by 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.
Once a little-known oasis, Deep Creek 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 nudity is extremely common, but not required.
Hot Spring 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, it’s prime location and ideal temperature make 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.
Deep Creek Camping Options
Note: Camping is prohibited at the hot springs or in the valley.
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 other developed campgrounds can be found at Lake Arrowhead and Silverwood Lake.
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. But, 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!
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Route 1: Bowen Ranch Trail
Drive – From I-15 take the Bear Valley exit. If coming from the north turn left, turn right if coming from the south. Head east along Bear Valley road about 10 miles and hang a right on Central. Drive 3 miles to Ocotillo past the railroad tracks and over a steep hill. Turn left on Ocotillo for 2.2 miles to Bowen Ranch road. The road does turn to dirt during this portion. Turn right on Bowen Ranch road traveling another 6 miles arriving at the parking and trailhead area. Expect a winding road with blind curves and narrows a bit before reaching Bowen Ranch. There is a $5 parking fee at Bowen Ranch.
Hike – 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.
Route 2: Bradford Ridge Trail
Drive – 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.
Hike – 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 actually follows the PCT. Stick to your right and you’ll arrive at the hot springs in no time. bonus; no creek ford!
Deep Creek Hot Springs Soak Stats:
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter
Type: Hike (4-5 miles RT)
GPS: 34.339393 -117.176963
Map Quad: San Bernardino National Forest
Elevation: 3,000 ft
Land: San Bernardino National Forest
Fee: $5 Bowen Ranch parking fee
Restrictions: Under nighttime closure, no campfires, no glass, high clearance vehicle 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
Clothing Optional: Yes
Pit Toilet: Yes