Friday, May 7, 2010

Remington & Miracle Hots Springs, Sequoia National Park (4.0 Stars ****)

Located in the southern Sierra Nevada, a few hours from Bakersfield, Remington Hot Springs is an outstanding hot spring and place to visit. This was the first natural hot spring we were able to visit this year and we were not disappointed! The grounds and surroundings were beautiful being so close to the Kern River. It gave the feeling of having your own floating bath tub directly in the river. Remington and Miracle hot springs are easy to reach since they are just off of paved roads and are an excellent alternative for visiting early in the year or during the spring when the high sierras still have snow. This is evidently a fairly well known and visited hot spring. For this reason, it is recommended that you visit on a weekday or during early mornings. Summers get more activity than the spring or fall. There is not much to see at Miracle Hot Springs except for the remains of the resort. Miracle hot spring was converted to a beautiful campground (Hobo Campground) and is about 1.5 miles before you reach Remington Hot Springs. Miracle hot spring tubs were removed due to the low flow of water and high bacteria count in the water. The ruins of the buildings and tubs can still be visited at the campground. The campground also provides excellent viewing of the kayaking runs with gates that have been established on this stretch of the Kern river. The water at Remington hot springs was outstanding. The water was extremely clean and fresh with a moderate to low sulfur content/level. There is not charge to get into this portion of the Sequoia National Forest. The two tubs are at the perfect temperature of around 102-104 F and are continuously fed by the active spring. Note: there is a third tub which we show in the pictures which is along the path before you reach the river. This tub is less used and the water flow is much lower. At times the Kern river can get fairly high, but this does not create a problem for flooding these tubs (their design prevents this). There are two heated baths and a cold plunge next to the heated baths. There was some talk at one time about the Forest Service removing the tubs. This is total nonsense. We called the Forest Service and there are no plans to remove or destroy the tubs. Make sure to remove any valuables from your car since the walk down to the river is about 0.25 miles. Also, you might consider bringing some bug repellent for use along the trail. Try Badger Bug Balm with Citronella & Rosemary (all organic, no DEET, and USDA approved). You can purchase it at REI. Note there is no diving at this site. However, there is a great rope swing if you would like to try your luck! Also, there are bathrooms just down the road at the Hobo campground. In summary, Remington is an outstanding hot spring with a lot to offer. However, pick your times carefully, because in most cases privacy is unlikely. By the way, don't forget to check-out our HD video below. This is new to our site!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stewart Mineral Springs, Weed, CA (3.5 Stars ***)

Stewart Mineral Springs is a rustic resort near the border of California and Oregon and is a camping enthusiasts dream! At first impression, this place seems more like a camping place for Boy Scouts. However, don't let this discourage you from taking advantage of their bathhouse and bathing ritual. You won't be disappointed! You will automatically be transported into a quieter and more spiritual state of being the moment you enter into the peaceful comforts of Stewart Mineral Springs. For more than 130 years, the resort has welcomed visitors into its haven of well-being that relaxes the mind, revives the body, and restores the soul. Native Americans used to consider this a healing site and there was an understanding that no fighting would take place on this sacred site. It is easy to see why they considered it a healing site. The moment you come onto the grounds, you feel yourself relax. Begin your journey at Stewart Mineral Springs with a soothing mineral bath, a relaxing sweat in Northern California 's last dry wood sauna or revitalizing spa treatment. The bathhouse is the healing headquarters for the resort. It houses 13 private bathing rooms where water bubbles up from the ground cold, is heated to around 180 F, and run into deep tubs for soaking (20-30 minutes). While naturally exfoliating your skin, the silica mineral water begins the process of purifying your body, then the large wood sauna and final dip in the creek completes the purifying process (in March it was 2 C or 34 F). Parks Creek runs through the property, a dipping pool has been carved out for your "Cold Plunge". The significance of the cold water is to wash off all of the surfaced toxins that have come out during your bath and sauna while building your immune system. The Native Americans believed that by submerging your body and head in the creek, all of your stress was washed downstream. The bathhouse is surrounded by wide wooden decks overlooking Parks Creek, where you may sunbathe and relax to the sounds of the rushing stream. It is believed by many, with first hand experience, that the mineral water is one of the most, if not the most, powerful healing waters in the world. The water has a lot of silica and it feels slick on the skin. You have to fight the temptation to rub your skin (silica can abrade the skin and leave a rash). There is also an attendant on duty to help you get started. This is why they limit the bathing times from 10 AM to 6 PM on most days. Once you understand the bathing ritual, process of heating the water, the unique features of the mineral water, and the need for the attendant, then the limited hours and charge of $20.00 per person makes sense. Note that if you stay at the resort you still have to pay for the use of the bathhouse. For this reason, it may make better sense to stay up the street at the Mount Shasta Resort, or the O'Brien Mountain Inn and then drive over to the springs for the bathhouse opening at 10 AM. This resort also appears to be quite seasonal so often times the restaurant or smoke house may be closed. Also, Stewart is full service, so you can call ahead and schedule a massage if you like. Lastly, don't forget to stop at the Olive Pit (off of I-5 in Corning, CA, for some outstanding olive oil, samples, and pickled spicy garlic. The best place to eat in Weed would be the Black Bear Restaurant (the original). Also, the food at the Mount Shasta Resort is quite good. Other sites to see in the area include the Sundial bridge at Turtle Bay, the Shasta Caverns, the Shasta dam, Brigadoon Castle in Igo, and the Shasta Dinner Train. Please call ahead in most cases to make reservations.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Orr Hot Springs, Ukiah, CA (4.0 Stars ****)

We rate Orr Hot Springs a four star. The drive was about 3 hours from San Jose, CA to the lush woodlands near Montgomery State Preserve. The drive up the last 13 miles was steep and winding through the hills. However, as you can see from the pictures below, it is both a romantic and wonderful landscape. As like other hot springs, you often must first climb a great mountain and then descend into a beautiful valley to reach the treasured hot spring; Orr is no different. Take care to use low gear with your car or you could over heat the brakes. The road is not that bad and it is paved, so enjoy the scenery! None of the pictures I've seen on the web does Orr justice. The grounds are beautiful in the spring and well maintained. When you enter through the front gate you are greeted by a serene and pristine woodland landscape of blooming flowers and well manicured bushes. This is a rustic resort at its best. You then go into the small office and lodge to check-in. The lodge and kitchen are very warm and inviting. We found both the guests and the employees to be friendly, helpful, and accommodating. The day passes are $25.00 per person. There are a few private star gazing tubs, a pool, a sauna, a steam room, and two outdoor roofed pools. The water temperature in the hottest pool was around 104 F (closest to the shower). Orr is a little different from some of the other hot springs in that you need to make a reservation even if you are a day use or over night customer. This makes sense since there is limited capacity in the pools that they provide. The showers and locker rooms were clean and appeared to be newly renovated. They also provide massages and have luxurious and well equipped rooms. The hot spring has a long history going back to 1878. Overall, a great place to visit and spend a romantic or relaxing weekend.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mercey Hot Springs, Firebaugh, CA (2.5 Stars **)

We rate this hot spring 2.5 stars. We would rate this hot spring higher, but it is undergoing some upgrades and is still a work in progress. Due to its convenient location, we believe this hot spring could be rated as high as 4.0 if they added some additional services and completed the planned work. Mercey Hot Springs is located in the northwest corner of Fresno County approximately 13 miles west of I-5 on Little Panoche Rd. (A.k.a. J1). Little Panoche Rd. was originally a stage coach route used by many of the early California pioneers in particular those people that were doing business with the nearby, New Idria (Quicksilver) mine. This hot spring was easy to reach. It was only about an hour and a half from San Jose, CA. Driving about 10 miles south on Interstate 5 and then about 13 miles up Panoche Road/Shields Ave. Very easy and convenient to find. We wish they had a restaurant nearby and some additional services. However, they are in the process of building a cafe. It is not clear when they plan on completing it. The cost of the tub use was $20.00 per person for 4 hours. The private tubs are priced separately at $12.00. We were told they are the hottest tubs on the property. The water of the tubs was very clean. There are some private tubs (2-3), optional tubs (9), a pool (100 F), a set of new open tubs near the pool (9-10 tubs)(104 F), some cabins to stay in, a sauna (116 F), and separate changing/dressing rooms and bathrooms. There are also a few outdoor showers. The facilities were recently remodeled and were in great shape. It was a real treat to drive up Panoche Road through the flowering cherry trees, past the thousands of orange poppies and colorful wildflowers and up through the Panoche Hills. Also, there were some interesting wild life on the property. A bird watchers paradise!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sierra Hot Springs Resort & Retreat Center (3.5 Stars ***)

When you sit back and reflect what the ideal Sierra Hot Spring would look like you can't get much better than Sierra Hot Spring. We rate this resort 3.5 Stars. This is a historic and rustic resort with very clean flowing Hot Spring water. It sits at the based of an expansive and beautiful valley with panoramic views of the Sierras and their surroundings. Supplied by several hot springs, the Sierra Hot Spring has harnessed them in various ways. There is a short walk to each of the tubs. Most people head towards the communal pool and temple hot tub. There are several aspects to Sierra Hots Springs:

This area is a silent meditation area -- no talking allowed. The pool is hot with a sand bottom. It is located in a geodesic dome structure with windows atop and a stained glass window. There are two cold pools in the temple hot dome. There are places to hang towels and a large wood-carved Budha.

Adjacent to the temple hot pool is an outdoor warm pool. It is large enough for swimming.

There is a dry sauna adjacent to the warm pool. It is nice and was recently refurbished. However, it is very small -- capacity is 3 people.

There is an outdoor pool that is made from rocks with a sand bottom. It is near the main lodge and you walk to it. The water temp is warm, not hot, so it is not appealing to many in the colder season. In summer, it is nice.

The Phoenix baths are up a hill. They are described as tubs that can be refilled with fresh water for each user.

The main lodge is rustic, but comfortable. The rooms are basic -- view from the window was wonderful -- snow covered fields. Floors are creaky and it feels like you're staying in one of Grandma's upstairs bedrooms. They have about 7 private rooms with shared bathrooms upstairs, plus an attic "dorm," which has 5 single beds. Also a massage room upstairs. Downstairs there is a main room with a cozy wood burning stove that heats the whole lodge nicely. Couches surround the wood stove. There are books, games, an old piano, and other items of interest. Mostly, the people are interesting. Easy to chat with folks sitting around the fire. The communal kitchen is basic, but adequate. Rooms (at Main Lodge and the Globe Hotel) are $88 Sun-Thurs and $110 weekends and holidays. Price of room includes 24 hr soak in the pools.

The historic Globe Hotel, about a mile from the main lodge, is owned by Sierra Hot springs. It has11 private rooms, two shared bathrooms, a large living room area with sofas, and a communal kitchen. The rooms at the Globe are not luxurious by any means. They are quaint and interesting. Each is themed with a different country -- reflecting the name -- "The Globe."

Be advised to bring your own food to cook. The Philosophy Cafe, located in the main lodge, is only open on Saturdays. There are only two restaurants in Sierraville: breakfast & lunch @ the Roundup Cafe and dinner @ Los Dos Hermanos, which is good -- when it is open. It was closed over the New Years holiday.

Overall this is a great place to stop and soak after skiing or snowboarding. The people were very friendly. A special note for the women at the front desk. She was super pleasant, hospitable and friendly. This resort has everything and is easily accessible. In order to reach the resort you need only follow route 89 out of Truckee for about 25 miles, turn right on Lemon Canyon Road and head for about a mile and then turn right on Campbell Hot Springs Road and travel for about a mile to the lodge. Note that if you stay at the lodge or Globe Hotel, you get a free soak included. The cost of a 3 hour soak is only $5.00 for a month membership plus $15.00 for use of the baths. This place can get pretty busy on weekends. During the week you can practically have it all to yourself. Also, don't forget to bring your own food and towels!