Who knew there could be another reason to love Northern California so much? Besides offering epic mountain views, towering redwoods, and mist-covered forests, the northern half of this sunny state is home to some seriously gorgeous hot springs. That’s right, NorCal just got that much more magical.
One of the best ways to experience these hot springs is — you guessed it — to venture out into the wilderness and set up camp. With hundreds of natural hot springs hiding around the state, some free, and others pretty darn cheap, you’re bound to find your own little corner of awesome, hot springy goodness. But, just in case you want a guaranteed soak under the stars during your next outdoor adventure, we’ve got you covered.
Check it out — the best camping hot springs adventures in Northern California:
I. Grover Hot Springs
The remote Eastern Sierras are famous for alpine views, deep blue lakes, and so-steep mountain ranges. There’s also no shortage of simmering hot springs, and Grover Hot Springs is one of many, many natural springs in this neck of the woods. Tucked away in the middle of a high-altitude pine forest, Grover Hot Springs are serene, scenic, and understandably popular. Getting too crowded? Explore around the park for some less-developed and more secluded spots to call your own.
At night, pitch your tent at one of the many sites at . Just steps away from the hot springs themselves, you’ve got dozens of wilderness campsites to choose from.
Photo via Flickr
II. Travertine Hot Springs
For some of the most scenic natural springs you ever did see, Travertine Hot Springs is a must. Located just by the Nevada border, these hot spring pools run alongside striking rock formations and are surrounded by trees — not a bad place to relax and gaze up at the starry sky. Better yet, watch the sunset over the mountain ranges from the comfort of one of the many mineral-rich and piping hot pools. Talk about an epic hot springs experience.
There aren’t any established campsites located right at Travertine Hot Springs, but and are the next best thing. Buckeye Campground is a bit farther from Travertine, but boasts it’s very own set of hot springs, which are ultra-secluded and feel like the perfect secret. Otherwise, Honeymoon Flat is just a short drive away from Travertine Hot Springs.
III. Steep Ravine Hot Springs (not pictured, keep it wild!)
Less than an hour’s drive from San Francisco, Steep Ravine Hot Springs are surprisingly secluded, spacious and totally peaceful. Stop by at low tide and enjoy warm waters combined with ocean views. It is a bit of a steep hike down, but when you reach the hot springs you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery.
Spend your nights at the nearby for some classic coastal camping and cabin-ing. The cabins book up quick but if you can snag one, you’re in for an experience you won’t soon forget. Perched right on the edge of the coast, let the sounds of the roaring Pacific ocean lure you to sleep after a long day of adventuring.
Tip: Steep Ravine hot springs only appear at a negative tide of -1 or more. This is a wild hot spring, and not a resort, be respectful and kind to the land.
IV. Mono Hot Springs
Nestled right in the heart of the Eastern Sierras, Mono Hot Springs are yet another one of the idyllic natural hot springs in this corner of California. After a long day of hiking and exploring, Mono Hot Springs are the perfect place to relax — think jaw-dropping Sierra views and crowds few and far in between.
Skip the hotels nearby and sleep under the stars. is the perfect base to wander along the San Joaquin River to explore the many hot spring pools nearby. Campsites are a’plenty and are the perfect basecamp for hot springs seeking campers.
V. Sykes Hot Springs
Located in Los Padres National Forest, Sykes Hot Springs is one stellar backcountry-accessible spot! The natural landscapes surrounding Sykes Hot Springs are no doubt some of the most swoon-worthy in all of California, leaving you with some sweet options for camping. Some of the best places to pitch a tent are and, both not too far of a drive from the hike-in to Sykes Hot Springs. Both campgrounds book up fast, and are notoriously some of the most sought-after spots for good reason.
A wanderer at heart and forever adventurer, Charlotte loves exploring wild places both near and far. Based in Vancouver, Canada, she whiles away her time writing, photographing, and travelling around the vast Pacific Northwest. You can follow her adventures on her newly-created blog, Charlotte So Far.