Harbin Hot Springs – Middletown, CA

Nestled in the mountains of Northern California, Harbin Hot Springs offers visitors a unique experience that can’t be found anywhere else. The resort has been around for over a century, and it’s one of the last remaining places in the United States where you can legally go skinny dipping in a hot spring.

Harbin Hot Springs is a clothing-optional resort open to the public 365 days a year. It’s located an hour and half north of Reno and an hour south of Chico in Middletown, California. The property is split into two parts: there’s the clothing-optional area, which offers more than 30 private soaking tubs (ranging from one to six person capacity) plus pools and water slides; and there’s also a clothing-required area that includes a pool, saunas, and steam rooms.

The springs are open daily from 8:00am to 10:00pm with extended hours on weekends. Admission is $25 per day per person or $65 per day for a season pass. Children under 18 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

History and Location

Harbin Hot Springs
Harbin Hot Springs

Harbin Hot Springs, located in Middletown, CA, has a rich history dating back over a century. Originally founded by Chinese immigrant Jimmy Lee in the early 1900s, the property was later sold to John Harbin in 1914. For four generations, the Harbin family owned and operated the resort, with the most recent owner being John’s grandson, Frank Harbin III. However, in 2009, the property was sold to a group of investors led by Las Vegas businessman John Moyer.

Nestled on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Harbin Hot Springs offers a unique escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Situated at an elevation of 1,300 feet above sea level, the resort boasts stunning views of Harbin Mountain and the surrounding Napa Valley region. Despite its popularity among locals and Nevada residents, Harbin Hot Springs has yet to become a household name outside of the immediate area.

What sets Harbin Hot Springs apart from other hot springs and resorts across America is its unique offerings. According to management, Harbin is one of only three places in the country where you can legally skinny dip in a hot spring. The other two locations are Joyful Spring Caverns in Texas and Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. With its serene natural surroundings and one-of-a-kind amenities, it’s no wonder that Harbin Hot Springs has become a beloved destination for those seeking rest and relaxation.

With a rich history dating back over a century, this unique resort offers visitors the chance to unwind and reconnect with nature. From its stunning mountain views to its rare offerings such as legal skinny dipping, Harbin Hot Springs is a destination that truly stands out from the rest.

Hot Spring Pools

Heart Pool at Harbin Hot Springs
Heart Pool at Harbin Hot Springs

Discover an unparalleled experience of relaxation and rejuvenation at Harbin Hot Springs, where the eight mineral hot spring pools offer a range of temperatures for various activities. With an abundance of natural springs on the property, the pools are filled with fresh spring water of diverse temperatures, creating a well-rounded experience for all visitors.

The signature hot pool is a covered geothermally-heated spring pool, which is so hot that inexperienced soakers should spend less than a minute submerged. Meanwhile, the cold plunge pool is filled with untreated ice-cold spring water, perfect for invigorating dips. For a more comfortable experience, the warm pool is filled with water from the springs on site and is ideal for longer soaks.

Harbin Hot Springs is an all-nude retreat, where visitors can fully immerse themselves in the soothing and refreshing experience of the outdoor mineral spring pools. The largest pool on the property is perfect for group activities, while a separate pool is available for a more intimate and spiritual experience.

For a powerful experience, visitors can try the waters in the Watsu pool, where they can receive aquatic bodywork in a warm pool. The commercial pools are also available for those who want to hold events or classes.

The water temperature in the pools varies from around 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the hot pool to 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the cold plunge pool. The average temperature of the pools is around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with a gallon per minute flow rate.

To sum it up, here are a few of the most popular swimming holes:

  • Hot Pool: This covered pool has a geothermally heated spring pool that is so hot that inexperienced soakers should only stay submerged for less than a minute.
  • Cold Plunge: As the name implies, this pool is filled with ice cold, untreated spring water.
  • Warm Pool: This distinctive pool is ideal for longer soaks because it is filled with water from the springs on the site.

Harbin Hot Springs Heart Pool

In addition to the three main pools, the property has five more pools, all of which are ADA-accessible. The classic swimming pool is one of these, where guests can swim laps and relax in a more casual, relaxed setting.

There are gender neutral changing areas, showers, and restrooms near the pool deck. Finally, this area of the resort has a large cedar Sauna made from local wood.


The range of accommodation options at Harbin include simple yet pleasant lodgings, all of which can be booked online for temporary stays. In keeping with the laid-back, peaceful ambience of the pool area, these accommodations provide a comfortable and convenient way to enjoy the area.

Caravans on the Creek

Harbin Hot Springs’ Creekside Caravans, which are only available for a limited period, comprise fifteen individual campsites divided into two lots. These rooms, which are only ten minutes on foot from the main pool area, maintain simplicity while while giving modern conveniences.

Each caravan has a kitchenette with a refrigerator and microwave, a private bathroom, and air conditioning and heating that can be set separately. The bulk of the caravans are for two people, although there are a handful that are suitable for families with children.

The Grove Cottages

The Grove Cottages may be more enticing to people seeking greater space. These cottages, like the Creekside Caravans, are only a ten-minute walk from the pool area. The Grove Cottages, unlike the caravans, do not have a kitchenette. Instead, each cottage has a little deck with a view of the Harbin meadow.

Reservations are not required, although they are strongly advised.

What to Expect at Harbin Hot Springs

Harbin Hot Springs is a spiritual healing and hot springs resort located in Northern California. The resort is known for its silent rule, which prohibits guests from talking loudly or using cell service while on the property.

Guests can choose to soak in the resort’s natural hot springs while wearing swim suits or opt for the clothing-optional area. Harbin Hot Springs’s comprehensive services include bodywork services, a full kitchen service, and a gift shop. However, it should be noted that the resort is a membership-only resort and requires guests to leave at least one piece of clothing behind upon arrival.

Despite the restriction of clothing, Harbin Hot Springs is a friendly retreat center that caters to all guests. The resort offers more than 30 private soaking tubs and pools, ranging in size from one to six people capacity. Additionally, guests can enjoy hiking trails that lead to private soaking pools owned by locals who live near Harbin.

Accommodations at Harbin Hot Springs include RV camping sites, tent camping sites, and cabins for rent. The resort also has RV hookups for campers and a tent dump station. Guests can also take advantage of the resort’s public WiFi and RV charging stations. Overall, Harbin Hot Springs is a tranquil retreat center that offers a wide range of amenities and services to its guests.

The Facilities

Harbin Hot Springs has an array of facilities that cater to all its visitors. The clothing-optional side boasts of 34 soaking tubs in various sizes and styles, three pools, two water slides, and a wave pool. Meanwhile, the clothing-required side offers three saunas, three steam rooms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a children’s pool with a frog slide, and a playground.

The springs, located in the center of the property, allow for a rejuvenating experience. Wander through different private tubs that are nestled against the hillside, with most of them being newly installed. Guests can even indulge in a unique experience by relaxing in a private tub shaped like a castle tower complete with turrets.

The resort’s main buildings, including the restaurant and gift shop, are located near the clothing-required side. The restaurant operates from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm on weekdays and 7:00 am to 10:00 pm on weekends and holidays, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner all year long. During winter months from October to April, breakfast is only available on weekends and holidays.

The Dancing Bear Cafe is the only restaurant on the premises, offering a healthy selection of homemade dishes such as muffins, salads, soups, and desserts. Guests are also allowed to bring their food or purchase items at Middletown’s Hardester’s store. Middletown has several eateries that visitors can explore for a change of scenery.

Harbin Hot Springs is a friendly facility with something for everyone. The Mainside Pool Area is perfect for swimming and lounging around, while the steam sauna and sauna baths offer a relaxing and detoxifying experience. The parking area adjacent to the resort ensures easy access, and temporary parking is available for visitors.

The Experience

The Harbin Hot Springs experience is unparalleled, offering a plethora of activities for those looking to rejuvenate and unwind. With over 30 private soaking tubs, ranging from single-person to six-person capacity, visitors can indulge in a healing hot soak amidst stunning stone and mortar tubs. The serene and peaceful ambiance is complemented by the revered healing music and sound that surround the area.

For those looking to explore the 50-acre property, there are hiking trails, waterfalls, and an on-site coffee shop that offers snacks, sandwiches, beer, and wine while supplies last. The Watsu Pool, which utilizes shiatsu techniques, is another unique feature of the Harbin Hot Springs experience. Visitors can indulge in Water Shiatsu or a relaxing massage in the pool while the calming sounds of nature surround them.

The 24-hour visits to Harbin Hot Springs allow visitors to fully immerse themselves in the healing atmosphere, while the six-hour visits provide a quick yet rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The on-site restaurant, The Poolside Café, serves healthy and organic dishes, along with burgers and sandwiches, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Visitors can also enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail in the evenings while soaking up the tranquil ambiance.

Whether you’re seeking a quick escape or a longer retreat, the Harbin Hot Springs experience caters to all needs. Indulge in a healing hot soak, explore the surrounding nature, and indulge in a relaxing massage or Water Shiatsu. With the unique water slides on offer, visitors can even enjoy some skinny dipping while having a splash. Visit Harbin Hot Springs for a truly unparalleled experience.


Temple at Harbin Hot Springs
Temple at Harbin Hot Springs

There are so many activities to choose from at Harbin that it can be hard to know where to start. You can spend a whole day here relaxing and soaking in one of the private tubs then spend another day splashing around in the water slides and pools.

First, let’s talk about the private tubs. There are more than 30 soaking tubs spread out over two separate buildings: the Main Pavilion and the Alpine Pavilion. The Main Pavilion has a variety of tubs that range in size from one-person to six-person capacity. These are all mixed-gender tubs, though there is a small section for women only. The Alpine Pavilion is all female with 12 private soaking tubs that range from one to four person capacity.

While there are always plenty of soaking tubs available, it’s best to plan ahead as reservations fill up quickly. Reservations can be made online or over the phone during business hours and for free with a credit card. If you’d rather walk up and soak, you can pay cash at the front desk for a spot in a mixed-gender or female-only tub, but spots fill up quickly.

Another popular activity at Harbin is spending time in the water slides or swimming in one of the pools. The resort has three pools: two Olympic-sized pools (one indoors and one outdoors) as well as an indoor lap pool. One of the Olympic pools features two large water slides that dump out into a splash area that’s perfect for kids. There are lifeguards on duty who watch over these areas so you can relax while your kids play and splash around.

Harbin Hot Springs offers a variety of on-site activities, including a thorough massage program and free yoga lessons.

Watsu, a unique aquatic massage developed on-site, is one of the massage disciplines available at Harbin Hot Springs. This technique involves moderate stretching while floating in a warm water, resulting in a wonderfully relaxing massage.

Aside from Watsu, Harbin Hot Springs also provides more traditional massages such as deep tissue massages and hot stone massages. Harbin also gives acupuncture services.

The 1700-acre Harbin Hot Springs property features a variety of hiking and moderate walking trails. Because of a big fire that burned through the land in 2015, hiking at Harbin provides a close look at the effects of fire on a recovering ecosystem, allowing hikers to observe nature’s natural cycles.

Things to Do Nearby

Middletown, CA is a renowned tourist hot spot with countless exciting activities. From thrilling adventures to calming escapes, visitors can find plenty of ways to pass the time. From the stunning outdoors to the vibrant nightlife, there’s no shortage of options to create a memorable experience. When you are their, try some popular ones:

  1. Wine Country Hot-Air Balloon Ride from Yountville: Experience an unforgettable adventure with a hot-air balloon ride over the beautiful Wine Country. Float above the vineyards and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the region. Adventure Tours start at $338.00 per adult.
  2. Sonoma Horseback-Riding Tour: Discover the breathtaking Sonoma countryside on horseback. This guided tour offers a unique and thrilling way to explore the area’s natural beauty. Adventure Tours start at $129.00 per adult.
  3. Healdsburg Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Guided Walking Tour: Indulge your senses on a guided walking tour of Healdsburg, featuring wine tastings and food pairings at local wineries and eateries. Private and Luxury tours start at $129.00 per adult.
  4. Healdsburg Small-Group Food and Wine Walking Tour: Join a small group of fellow food and wine enthusiasts on a walking tour of Healdsburg, visiting local wineries and tasting rooms. Wine Tours start at $125.00 per adult.
  5. Icon Wine & Food Pairing Experience at Williamson Wines in Healdsburg: Treat yourself to an exquisite wine and food pairing experience at Williamson Wines, where you’ll sample delicious wines alongside carefully selected gourmet bites. Prices start at $66.29 per adult.
  6. Sonoma Walking Food, Wine & History Tour (Small Groups): Experience the best of Sonoma’s food, wine, and history on this small-group walking tour. Explore local landmarks and taste delicious food and wine along the way. Walking Tours start at $179.00 per adult.
  7. Russian River Kayak Tour at the Beautiful Sonoma Coast: Paddle your way down the scenic Russian River on a guided kayak tour. Enjoy the beauty of the Sonoma Coast and its abundant wildlife. Prices start at $135.00 per adult (price varies by group size).
  8. Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley Including Lunch: Hop aboard the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley for a day of wine tasting and sightseeing. Enjoy a delicious lunch while exploring the region’s beautiful vineyards. Trolley Tours start at $125.00 per adult.
  9. Join-in Flight in Sonoma: Take to the skies for an exhilarating flight over Sonoma. Experience the thrill of soaring above the picturesque landscape. Adventure Tours start at $320.00 per adult.
  10. Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through North Sonoma County: Join a small group for a wine-tasting tour through North Sonoma County, visiting charming wineries and sampling delicious wines. Bus Tours start at $140.58 per adult.
  11. Sonoma Redwoods Hike and Coastal Kayaking Tour: Experience the beauty of Sonoma’s redwood forests and coastline on a guided hiking and kayaking tour. Explore the great outdoors and enjoy the stunning scenery. Walking Tours start at $165.00 per adult.
  12. Sonoma Plaza Food and Wine Pairing Tour Delight your taste buds on a food and wine pairing tour of Sonoma Plaza. Sample exquisite dishes and wines at local establishments. Private and Luxury tours start at $185.00 per adult.

Hot Springs in Northern California and Beyond

Harbin Hot Springs is the largest hot springs in the United States, but there are several other places for you to enjoy a dip in the soothing mineral waters.

Nevada is home to a few clothing-optional resorts that appeal specifically to gay men. The Terrible’s Club Sierra is located in Carson City and includes luxury camping sites and RV spaces, a large pool area with slides, and a sauna. Terrible’s Bare Elegance is located in Fernley and offers RV sites and tent camping, plus an outdoor pool with waterfalls, a Jacuzzi, and a sauna. Both resorts allow guests to swim au naturel.

In Northern California, you’ll find several smaller hot springs at campgrounds or resorts. The resort of Caliente Hot Springs is located about 15 miles north of Harbin Hot Springs near the town of Volcano. It offers five pools ranging from 98°F to 104°F as well as a campground with RV sites and tent camping. And there’s also Harbinger Hot Springs near Truckee that offers four pools ranging from 98°F to 105°F as well as RV sites (with hookups) and tent camping space. Harbinger allows guests to swim au naturel (without any restrictions) or use bathrobes if they prefer.

How to get there

The best way to get to Harbin Hot Springs is to take Highway 70 from Reno, Nevada, or Highway 99 from Chico, California, and then follow the signs. There’s ample parking available at the resort, and an information booth at the entrance where you can purchase tickets.

The resort is located in Middletown, California (near Nevada and California) in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s a short drive from Lake Tahoe, Reno, or Chico.

For those looking for a more adventurous route, you can also hike to Harbin Hot Springs from nearby trails. The resort offers a map with suggested routes that lead to the springs. Be prepared for a serious hike—these aren’t short trails!—and make sure you pack enough water and food before you set out.

Bottom line

In conclusion, the Harbin Hot Springs – Middletown, California is a unique and serene getaway. It is a place of natural beauty, spiritual healing, and relaxation. Whether you are looking to enjoy a hot spring dip, take part in yoga classes or meditative walks, explore the nearby trails, or simply take in the views of the surrounding area, Harbin has something for everyone. With its picturesque scenery and natural thermal springs, it is the perfect spot to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature.

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Local information

Address: 18424 Harbin Springs Rd, Middletown, California 95461
Phone: 707-987-2477
Season: Year-round
Website: harbin.org


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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.