Dirty Socks Hot Spring (Owens Lake) – Olancha, CA

Dirty Sock Hot Spring is a unique natural hot spring located on the southeast side of Owens Lake, near Olancha in Inyo County, California. The spring consists of a sizeable concrete-lined pool that is fed by an underground spring and emits a distinct odor that smells like dirty socks. The hot water bubbles up from the lake’s surface and flows into the circular pool that measures approximately 25 feet deep.

The view of the lake surrounding Dirty Sock Hot Spring is breathtaking, with panoramic views of Cerro Gordo and China Lake Naval Weapons Center to the west. While many people choose to soak in these warm waters, it should be noted that high amounts of water can cause it to become too hot .

Not only are visitors able to enjoy an amazing view and relax in the warm waters, but they are also able to take advantage of the fresh water that is provided by the spring. The bubbling hot springs contain particles of dust, salt, and other trace minerals that can help to soothe sore muscles and joints. In addition, there are numerous hot spring resorts located nearby that offer a variety of amenities for visitors to enjoy.

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life while taking in some beautiful natural scenery, Dirty Sock Hot Spring should be a must-visit destination. With its stunning views, warm waters, and fresh water supply, it is sure to provide an unforgettable experience!


Dirty Socks Hot Springs
Dirty Socks Hot Springs

Exploring the abandoned ruins of Dirty Socks Hot Springs was a slightly nerve-wracking experience, as the road leading to the site was barely recognizable and devoid of landmarks. The hot springs were first established in 1917, during World War I when a well was dug to collect sodium carbonate from the mineral-rich region. After the war, a concrete swimming pool was built in 1927, which remains the centerpiece of the spa resort to this day.

Despite the efforts to maintain the resort, it was plagued by difficulties, including vandalism and an outbreak of algae. Eventually, the park was closed in 1978. It remains closed until now. During my visit, the metal fence surrounding the pool and the steps leading down into the water remained. However, the ruins were almost ready to return to nature.

While the theories behind the name “Dirty Socks” remain unclear, the sulfur smell mixed with a distinctive aroma of dead grass made for an unpleasant soaking experience. The temperature of the pool was around 84 degrees F during my visit, and the well supplying new hot water was located near a small island in the center, with the water temperature measuring at 91 degrees F at the gushing point. Despite the abandoned state of the resort, the history and natural beauty of Dirty Socks Hot Springs make for an intriguing stop on any adventure.

Natural Hot Springs

The natural hot spring water has not yet lost its pungent odour, which is described as being similar to that of old socks. The spring is contained in a big pool that is surrounded with concrete and has a diameter of 78 feet. The pool is fed from a source that is located deep inside the soil. The water from the pool will ultimately end up in a pond that is located nearby. It’s accessible at any time of the year.

You do so at your own peril. The water is frequently cloudy with algae, and there is almost no maintenance performed on it.

Unclean Socks Hot Springs are best defined as warm in temperature. The high temperatures throughout certain times of the year typically range from 90 to 94 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to not requiring visitors to wear clothes, this location is also pet-friendly. It is highly recommended that you wear shoes before to accessing the spring because there is broken glass both on the ground and at the bottom of the spring.

Overnight camping is not permitted.

Getting to Dirty Sock Hot Spring

To get to the hot spring, visitors must take Highway 395 north from Lone Pine and turn onto Highway 190 which is on the west side of Owens Lake. Follow this gravel road for about 10 miles until you see a small sign directing you towards Dirty Sock Hot Spring. The entrance to the spring is just off the highway and can be accessed via a dirt road that takes you down to the lake.

Once at the lake, there will be plenty of parking available as well as a small county park with picnic tables and bathrooms located nearby. Visitors can then make their way down to the concrete pool, making sure to follow all posted signs as they walk along the shoreline.

To ensure your safe trip, please note:

– The hike to Dirty Socks Hot Spring is a short, but challenging hike. You will need to bring lots of water. The water is warm but it’s important to stay hydrated. The hike is approximately 1-2 hours long depending on how fast you walk.

– Parking: You can park your car at the trailhead that leads to Dirty Socks Hot Spring. There is space for 50-100 cars at the trailhead. The trailhead is across from the general store.

– Trail Details: Once you step foot on the trail, you will cross a small creek. The trail is sandy and rocky so be careful when walking. There is one switchback on the trail so be sure to use the handrail. The trail ends at a nearby hill that overlooks the valley. From the overlook, you can see Dirty Socks Hot Spring below.

– The last 25 yards of the hike is a rocky climb down the hill. Be careful when climbing down as the rocks can be slippery when wet.

Activities Near Olancha and Dirty Socks Hot Springs

– Explore Olancha and the nearby Tecuya Hot Springs: You can explore Olancha and the nearby Tecuya Hot Springs if you have extra time. These places are filled with desert landscapes, creeks, ponds, and the occasional black bear.

– Hiking in the Inyo National Forest: You can hike the nearby trails in the Inyo National Forest. There are various trails to choose from so you can explore the desert and forest.

– Fishing at Lake Tecuya: Lake Tecuya is a small fishing lake located in Olancha, California. You can fish as long as you have a fishing license. There is an entrance fee of $15 per person.


Dirty Sock Hot Spring is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking relaxation and rejuvenation. Located in the Owens Lake area along Highway 395 in the Owens Valley, this hot spring offers a range of options, from shallow flooding to cement pools and even hot mineral springs. Visitors can take in stunning views of the lake surface while soaking in warm mineral water.

Despite the environmental challenges, such as windblown dust and fugitive dust, Dirty Sock Hot Spring remains a popular destination for road trippers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience. Dust control measures have been implemented to address this issue, ensuring a comfortable visit for all. Visitors can relax in the warm mineral water and enjoy the breathtaking desert landscape.

The Owens Lake, where Dirty Sock Hot Spring is located, has been transformed into a cement pool, adding to the charm and uniqueness of this destination. The hot mineral water is sourced from natural pools, providing a rejuvenating experience. With dust control measures in place, visitors can enjoy the warm water and stunning views without any disturbances. A road trip to Dirty Sock Hot Spring is an experience that should not be missed.

Weather Forecast for next 5 days

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Local information

Address: Located about 10 miles from Big Pine, California
GPS: 36.329659,-117.949248
Season: Year-round




Anne loves to explore the world and share her experiences through her blog. She loves to travel to places that are off the beaten path and find unique experiences to share with her readers. She also loves to share tips on how to make the most of a trip, from budgeting to activities. She hopes that her blog will inspire others to explore the world and enjoy the beauty of nature.