Ecotopia Hot Springs – Ojai, California

There’s a reason why people always say, “Go to Ojai.” It’s an unassuming, quirky, and spiritual place that feels like a world away—and yet it’s only an hour from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. If you haven’t made the trip up the 101 freeway yet to experience this little slice of heaven, here’s your excuse: the Ecotopia Hot Springs.

Nestled in a canyon in Ojai and accessible by hiking trails, this off-the-grid oasis is a must-do for all outdoor enthusiasts. The Ecotopia Hot Springs are located at the base of Mount Merino on private property owned by the Ecotopia Foundation. It’s a clothing-optional hot springs created by the foundation in an effort to create a nude destination while protecting nature and encouraging self-reflection.

The Ecotopia Hot Springs are easily accessible via a short hike, although currently they are only open to members (join here). If you’re not able to join or just want to explore more of the area, there’s plenty of other adventures to be had in Ojai.

Hot Springs Pool

Visiting the Ojai Hot Springs in California
Visiting the Ojai Hot Springs in California

At Ecotopia, there are 5 rock-bottom pools, and the air smells strongly of sulfur. The water temperature ranges from 100 to 106°F. The largest pool is also the warmest, with a temperature of 106°F and a circumference of 20 feet, allowing for plenty of stretching space for many people.

The two waterfalls that cascade into one of the pools are one of the most striking features of these hot springs. This location is accessible by crossing the small bridge, which has a cave-like appearance due to the enormous boulder in the middle of the water. These waters are usually around 103°F and have the most sulfur odor.

The last pool, which has a temperature of 100°F, can be located by following the stream generated by the falls.

The property laws prohibit the use of electronics, drugs, alcohol, or other outside sources that could cause disturbances in the pools. Because advance reservations are necessary to utilize the springs, you won’t have to fight crowds with a maximum occupancy of 10 people. Because clothing is optional, be prepared to be exposed to birthsuit suits.

Activities

Camping nearby

Ecotopia Ojai Hot Springs California
Ecotopia Ojai Hot Springs California

Ecotopia is located on private property and does not provide on-site camping or lodging. The Wheeler Gorge Campground, meanwhile, is only six miles away and offers a variety of tent and RV campsites as well as a few facilities and chances for outdoor activities.

Ojai’s hot springs can be visited as a day trip from Los Angeles or Santa Barbara, but the town also offers a few hotels for overnight stays.

Willett Hot Springs is another local thermal pool near Ojai, CA worth seeing.

Hiking and Exploring Mount Merino

Mount Merino Manor
Mount Merino Manor

Mount Merino is located at the top of the canyon where the Ecotopia Hot Springs are located. You can drive up to the first lookout point, but you’ll need a car shuttle or four-wheel drive to continue on from there. The hike up is strenuous, but well worth it when you reach the top and get that sweeping panoramic view of Ojai and the Santa Monica Mountains. You’ll be able to see the Ecotopia Hot Springs, too!

There are plenty of trails to explore and you can hike out to Fern Basin Falls or all the way up to Mount Baden-Powell (a strenuous 15-mile hike with amazing views). Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks—and be prepared with some extra layers in case it gets cooler during your hike.

Make sure you check weather reports before heading out as Mount Merino can be hit or miss during California’s wet season.

Visiting Ecotopia

Ojai is an unincorporated town nestled in the bosom of Ventura County, just east of the Conejo Valley and west of the Topatopa Mountains. It’s a town with a population of just over 7,000 people, but is known for being a destination for those seeking spirituality, art, and healing.

The area is home to a number of spiritual retreats and centers, including the Ojai Foundation, the Krishnamurti Foundation North America, and the Ananda Spiritual Community. Its natural environment is also cherished by residents who enjoy hiking trails through the Topatopa Mountains and along the banks of Lake Casitas.

Ecotopia Hot Springs are located 10 miles north of Ojai on Mount Merino Road. There are two ways you can get there: by hiking one-and-a-half miles from an off-the-grid parking lot or by driving 1.3 miles from a paved lot. Both parking areas are at least .5 miles from the hot springs themselves.

Exploring the Ojai Valley

The Ojai Valley is home to a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It’s also the home of the Ojai Retreat and Spa, which is equipped with plenty of outdoor adventures for guests.

The city of Ojai sits in the northern part of the valley, and it’s a quaint historic town with plenty of shops and restaurants. Activities here include shopping along Ojai Avenue, browsing the art galleries, or exploring The Thomasina Winery & Distillery. If you’re looking for more unique activities in Ojai, check out the local Thomas Bros. Map for some interesting sites like The Vortexes or The Channelling Stone.

Outside of Ojai and throughout the valley are several beautiful state parks and nature preserves that are perfect for hiking or biking. You can also take your furry friends on a hike at Piute or Pine Creek Canyon Park.

Taking a Detour to Chumash Painted Cave

If you only have a day to explore Ojai, there’s plenty to do and see in a short time period. But if you’ve got a little more time to spare, I highly recommend taking a detour up Highway 33 to the Chumash Painted Cave site.

Chumash Painted Cave is an ancient rock art site that features nearly 1,000 pictographs created by the Chumash people some 3,500 years ago. The cave was discovered in 1993 by Tom Reiner and his sons, who stumbled upon the site while hiking up a ridge line. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.

Today, there’s a small parking area at the top of the ridge line where you can pull your car over and take in the view of Ojai and the surrounding valleys from one of the highest points along Highway 33. The trailhead leading down to the cave is located right next to this overlook (see photo above). From here, you’ll hike down a short trail that winds through a coastal sage scrub habitat populated with native plants such as chamise and manzanita.

Driving the Backroads

There’s more to Ojai than just the Ecotopia Hot Springs, you know. If you’re interested in exploring more of the area, one of our favorite pastimes is driving the backroads through Ojai and the neighboring towns.

We like to get out of our comfort zone and explore roads we haven’t been down before. Find your own hidden gems and secret spots along the way—you may just stumble upon a stunning overlook or a historic site you didn’t know existed.

And don’t forget to stop for a bite to eat along the way. One of our favorite stops is The Mill, located in downtown Ojai. This little gem serves up wood-fired pizzas, artisan sandwiches, and delectable desserts—a perfect pick-me-up after an afternoon hike at the Ecotopia Hot Springs or along nearby trails.

Bottom line

In conclusion, the Ecotopia Hot Springs of Ojai, California is a delightfully tranquil and naturally restorative destination for anyone looking to relax and rejuvenate. The waters are rich in minerals and provide a perfect atmosphere for soaking up the healing benefits of nature. With its eco-friendly practices and commitment to preserving the local environment, Ecotopia Hot Springs is a perfect spot to enjoy some much needed time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Enjoy a peaceful day in nature at this unique hot spring sanctuary and let its healing powers work their magic.

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Local information

Address: 2566 Matilija Canyon Rd, Ojai, California 93023
GPS: 34.50141,-119.348726
Season: Year-round
Hours: Thursdays-Sundays 8 am – 8 pm, also depends on weather
Website: ojaiecotopia.com

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