Buckeye Hot Springs – Bridgeport, California

You’ve probably heard of Orin or Hot Springs, California. Both are small communities within the boundaries of the national forest. They’re also both home to natural hot springs that have become popular destinations for locals and tourists alike. Even though they’re close together, each spot is unique in its own way, and offers something different when it comes to visiting a natural hot spring.

Buckeye Hot Springs is one of the lesser known hot springs, probably because it isn’t nearly as accessible as other locations, like Orin Hot Springs. However, this makes it even more of an adventure, so read on to find out everything you need to know about Buckeye Hot Springs.

What is Buckeye Hot Springs?

Buckeye Hot Springs - Bridgeport, California
Buckeye Hot Springs

Buckeye Hot Springs is a natural hot spring about an hour and a half north of Biggs, CA. It’s located in a beautiful canyon, and is fed by a natural spring that keeps the water temperature around 105 degrees. The water then flows into a large, shallow pool, before flowing into a creek.

You can visit Buckeye Hot Springs any time of year, but keep in mind that the weather can get extremely cold in the winter, and extremely hot in the summer. If you go in winter, make sure you are prepared for freezing temperatures and snow. If you go in summer, make sure you are prepared for triple digit temperatures.

The Basics: How to get to Buckeye Hot Springs

There is no easy way to get to Buckeye Hot Springs. It’s an all-day affair, and you have to be prepared to get a little dirty. First, you need to get to the town of Bridgeport, CA. The easiest way to get there is to take the 99 north from Bakersfield. You could also take the 5 to the 99, but that takes a bit longer.

Bridgesport is about 230 miles south of Reno, NV, and about 155 miles north of Bakersfield. When you get to Bridgeport, you’ll need to drive toward the mountains and look for a dirt road called “Digger’s Hot Springs Road.” This road is more like a 4×4 trail than a road. Once you get to the end, you’ll hike the rest of the way to the springs.

Facilities and What to Know Before You Go

Buckeye Hot Springs doesn’t have any water or bathrooms, so make sure you come prepared. You’ll also need to hike around a mile and a half to get to the springs. Make sure you wear hiking shoes and have a lot of water with you.

Because Buckeye Hot Springs is so remote, there are no facilities. There is no cell service, no electricity, and no shelter from the elements. Buckeye Hot Springs is clothing-optional, so make sure you’re comfortable with that before you go.

Natural Hot Springs Pools

Natural spring at Buckeye Hot Springs – Bridgeport, California
Buckeye Hot Springs – Bridgeport, California

At Buckeye Hot Springs, you will find not one but six magnificent pools to choose from, each of which varies in size. The term “Upper Pools” is commonly used to refer to the first two pools that you come across, both of which are completely natural. Not only are these pools with a depth of 2 feet attractive and large, but they also offer the most breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains.

Following the bed of Buckeye Creek for a short distance will bring you to four pools of varying sizes. They are semi-natural, which indicates that they have been minimally altered by visitors who sought to grow and add structure to hold in the pleasantly hot waters. Because of this, they have a more natural appearance.

The “waterfall,” which is more accurately described as an overhanging cliff that allows boiling hot thermal water to flow down into the pools below, is the primary attraction of these pools. The water is a sweltering 135 degrees Fahrenheit at its origin, but by the time it reaches the natural pools, it has cooled to a more bearable 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you discover that the water in the pools is too warm for your taste, you can move the rocks so that the cooler water from Buckeye Creek can enter the pools. Another option is to take a little dip in Buckeye Creek, which provides a welcome relief from the sweltering heat of the mineral pools, and then to resume your soak.

Even though each pool has its own unique dimensions, the Buckeye complex has the ability to accommodate around 30 people at once, making for a relaxing bath with plenty of room to spare. Bear in mind that many people who dip in these pools do so without clothing on.

Camping and nearby Accommodations

Buckeye Campground
Buckeye Campground

The first option is camping, which is something that many people who love nature enjoy doing. In point of fact, the Buckeye Hot Springs are just about a quarter of a mile away from the authorized Buckeye Campground. The 68 available campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis here. The location offers a total of four different restrooms (one flush and three vault).

There are a lot of places where you may go “Freedom Camping” if you wish to have a more isolated experience in the area. The three most important guidelines are as follows: leave no trace (pack everything, including human waste, in garbage bags); do not camp within 100 feet of the lake; and do not camp near the parking lot.

Around Buckeye Hot Springs, you’ll find a wide variety of different places to stay. Think about spending the night in Bridgeport at one of the many hotels or bed and breakfasts. Remember that Bridgeport is a small town, thus your selections will be restricted because of this. Consider going to one of the nearest large cities such as Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, or Lake Tahoe if you’d like to increase the number of options available to you.

Tips for Visiting Buckeye Hot Springs

If you can’t handle the hike, don’t go to Buckeye. It’s an all-day affair that gets pretty strenuous. Buckeye Hot Springs is clothing-optional, so if you’re not comfortable with nudity, this isn’t the place for you. Buckeye is a very rustic place.

Make sure to bring a lot of water and have good hiking shoes. Buckeye Hot Springs is only open during the winter and early spring. You can’t go there during the summer because the trail is not passable during that time.

Orin Hot Springs: An alternative to Buckeye

Orin Hot Springs is only about ten minutes from Buckeye Hot Springs. If you don’t want to hike a mile and a half, you can always go there. Orin Hot Springs is a more developed hot spring, and has a lot more amenities than Buckeye.

Orin Hot Springs has a parking lot, hiking trails, and a lot of water and bathroom facilities. Orin Hot Springs is also clothing-optional, but it’s a lot more developed than Buckeye. If you don’t want to hike but still want to visit a natural hot spring, you should go to Orin.

After You Visit

The best way to cool off after a hot spring visit is to jump in a river. The Kern River is only about a five-minute drive from the hot springs, and is an excellent place to spend a day swimming and playing in the water. You could also visit the Bakersfield Museum of Natural History, about an hour south of the hot springs.

Side note about the weather

If you visit the hot springs in the winter, make sure you are prepared for snow. The road can be closed due to snow, and you want to make sure you have all the supplies you need if that happens. The same goes for the summer. The temperature can easily reach triple digits, and the sun can be brutal. Make sure you are prepared for the heat.

Final Words

Buckeye Hot Springs is one of the most unique places in California. It’s an all-day affair, but it’s worth the effort. If you’re willing to put in the effort to get there, you’re rewarded with a truly unique experience that is unlike anything else in the world. Visiting Buckeye Hot Springs is an adventure, and it’s unlike any other experience you’ll ever have.

Local information

Address: Buckeye Road, Bridgeport, California 93517
GPS: 38.239085,-119.325437
Open: Year-round
Clothing: Optional