Gaviota Hot Springs is a rustic and relaxing hot spring located approximately forty (40) minutes outside of the town of Santa Barbara in the unspoiled Las Padres National Forest. Also known as Las Cruces Hot Springs, Gaviota is the perfect spot for a little away time and meditation when you are passing through the town of Santa Barbara. One of the reasons why you should visit Gaviota Hot Springs is because it never seems to be crowded and is highly accessible.
Gaviota Hot Springs Pools
The hot springs are comprised of two geothermal pools, the larger pool is walled and can accommodate approximately six people. The smaller pool which is located next to the larger pool and can comfortably accommodate two people. The temperature of Gaviota Hot Springs slightly varies throughout the year but averages between 95 and 100 degrees. You can enjoy the hot springs in the nude, but this is not encouraged, so you can just wear a pair of shorts if you are a gentleman and a bathing suit if you are a lady to avoid any uncomfortable situations.
Gaviota Hot Springs has been around for centuries and was a favorite place for early settlers such as the Spanish and British to relax and enjoy the therapeutic waters of the natural mineral hot pools. Early Spanish missionaries who frequented Gaviota Hot Springs described them as “a beautiful desert oasis,” this characterization spoke to the importance of the Springs to people centuries ago, and it is just as valuable today. Gaviota Hot Springs is located within Gaviota State Park which was established in 1953; it is one of a handful of California hot springs that is located on public property and fully accessible to the public.
Access and Usage Fees
There are no fees charged to access the Gaviota State Park, so you can bring the family along and enjoy the natural beauty of the Park and the therapeutic benefits of Gaviota Hot Springs while spending very little money. There is however a parking fee of $2 per day, and the parking lot can get crowded, especially on weekends and public holidays. If you seek to visit when there is a limited number of people trying to access the hot springs, a weekday would be the perfect time to do so.
Gaviota State Park includes thirty-eight (38) campsites, none of which are located close to Gaviota Hot Springs to keep the springs as private as possible. The campsites can accommodate tents and RV’s and can comfortably fit a family of five. There are also modern bathrooms with showers and flush toilets available at the campsites. The fee for one of the campsites in high season (March 1- November 30) is $45 per day, during the off-season (December 1-31) the fee is $35 per day. The campsites are not available between January 1 and February 28. To make reservations for a campsite so that you can enjoy Gaviota Hot Springs and the myriad of other attractions at the Gaviota State Park, you can contact 1-800-444-7275.
Seasonal Access Restrictions
Gaviota Hot Springs is available to the public year-round even when the campground is closed to the public between January 1 and February 28. This time of the year is perfect to visit if you want to take a long soak in the hot waters of the spring without having to consider that other people are waiting to use the springs. The months with the highest visitor traffic are the summer months of June- September. You are encouraged to book your campsite as much as seven months in advance if traveling in summer since there is limited availability and demand is high.
Gaviota Hot Springs Driving and Hiking Directions
Driving Directions from Santa Barbara
To get to Gaviota Park trailhead from Santa Barbara, you will drive west on Highway 101 for thirty (30) miles. You will get to a point where the Highway turns inland, pass the Gaviota Rest Area and proceed for 1.5 miles to the next exit labeled “California One.” Turn right at the top of the ramp and then take another right turn unto to Gaviota Park Boundary Road which is unnamed, continue to the cul-de-sac at the end of the road which is about 1/3 of a mile away. You are now at Gaviota Park trailhead. There is parking available here for a fee of $2 per day after parking you will be just 15-25 minutes away from soaking in the warm waters of Gaviota Hot Springs.
Hiking Directions to Gaviota Hot Springs
The Hike to Gaviota Hot Springs is considered moderate, and you should be able to complete it pretty easily. The hike is about one mile with an elevation of 400 feet. From the trailhead cul-de-sac off Highway 101 in the Gaviota State Park, start your hike up the wide fire road, climbing up this road will result in an elevation gain of 150 feet. Continue for a quarter of a mile getting to a junction with Trespass Trail, then turn left and continue along the road until you get to the next junction which is located beside a creek. The water in the creek is flowing from the hot springs; you will then turn right and follow the water until you get to the source which is about one-tenth of a mile up the creek. You are now at Gaviota Hot Springs; you will see two pools; the larger pool is walled by concrete and is the deepest of the two pools. The overall hike is just over a mile and should take you about 15-25 minutes depending on your hiking speed.
Gaviota Hot Springs Soak Stats:
Type: One mile hike – 400 ft elevation gain
GPS: 34.504598 -120.2259
Map Quad: Solvang
Land: Gaviota State Park
Fee: Parking $10/day
Restrictions: State Park campground closed Jan 1 – Feb 28
Water Clarity: Low/cloudy
Area Features: Gaviota State Park, Gaviota Falls, Gaviota Peak
Closest Food/Gas: Santa Barbara
Camping: State Park camping nearby
Clothing Optional: Yes
Pit Toilet: Yes