Keough’s Hot Springs – Bishop, California

Keough’s Hot Springs is a rustic hot springs along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River that has been in constant use since at least the 1860s and possibly as early as the 1840s. In 2018, it reopened for day use, after a brief closure for repairs, and it is now a destination for hot spring enthusiasts.

Keough’s Hot Springs is a beautiful hot springs along the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River just outside Bishop, California. It’s remote enough that you’ll feel like you’re getting away from it all, but just close enough to civilization that getting there is easy and quick. The history of Keough’s Hot Springs is long and rich, dating back to the 1840s when miners first settled in this area.

The first bathhouse was built here in the late 1800s and soon thereafter became a popular destination for people looking to relax and soothe their weary bones. To get to Keough’s Hot Springs, you’ll need to drive about 32 miles west from Bishop on Highway 168. The road can be bumpy and rough at times but remains drivable with any normal passenger car. Here’s what you need to know to plan your visit.

Hot Springs, Hiking & Camping

Keough's Hot Springs – Bishop, California
Keough’s Hot Springs – Bishop, California

Keough’s Hot Springs has reopened for day use and camping. A $5 day use fee is collected onsite and some of the proceeds will go to maintenance and upkeep of Keough’s Hot Springs.

There are two rough dirt roads that lead to the hot springs, one is a 2WD road, the other is 4WD only. The 2WD road leads right to the hot springs and can accommodate any regular passenger car. There are no designated campsites at Keough’s Hot Springs but dispersed camping is allowed in the surrounding area.

Bishop Creek Canyon offers several hiking trails ranging from easy nature walks to more strenuous hikes through rugged terrain. For a complete list of trails, visit this page on the Bureau of Land Management website.

Keough’s Hot Springs, which can be found just beyond the city limits of Bishop, California, is home to some of the largest hot springs pools in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Keough’s Hot Springs has been in operation since 1919 and is known for its expansive hot springs, in addition to its provision of camping and a simple snack bar.

Hot Springs

Keough's Hot Springs – Bishop, California
Keough’s Hot Springs – Bishop, California

The two enormous pools at Keough’s Hot Springs are without a doubt the most popular feature of the complex, which first opened its doors in 1919. Each pool is supplied with natural spring water that has been heated by geothermal activity and emerges from the ground at a temperature of approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

The water is put through a spray system that then flows into the pools, which causes the water to significantly cool down. This is done so that it can be used for swimming and soaking at an appropriate temperature.

The primary pool is quite spacious, measuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 by 40 feet. The depth varies, but its deepest point is over 8 feet. The water in this pool stays at a comfortable 90 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, making it ideal for swimming and lounging in any season.

The temperature of the second pool, known as the Hot Pool, is maintained at approximately 40 degrees higher. It is more intimate and is designed for reclining and unwinding in the warm mineral water. Because the water in both pools is drawn directly from the ground, it is rich in 27 different minerals, making for an atmosphere that is both rejuvenating and beneficial to one’s health.

At Keough’s Hot Springs, water aerobics classes are available seven days a week on a first-come, first-serve basis for a fee that is not prohibitively expensive.

This area includes changing rooms and restrooms in addition to the pools; additionally, lounge chairs for sitting and sunbathing are situated all around the pools in this area. In addition, the Hot Springs provide guests with both indoor and outdoor picnic facilities, as well as a snack bar with seating available inside.

Last but not least, Keough’s Hot Springs has a Camp Store that sells all of the necessities for a fun and relaxing day at the pools, as well as camping equipment, Keough’s Hot Springs memorabilia (such as hats and shirts), and other Keough’s Hot Springs souvenirs.

Campgrounds

Campgrounds at Keough's Hot Springs – Bishop, California
Campgrounds at Keough’s Hot Springs – Bishop, California

In addition to the inviting pools, Keough’s Hot Springs offers a variety of accommodations in the form of campsites and furnished canvas tents that are located within walking distance of the hot springs.

The proper bedding, a firepit, and even a mini-fridge are all included in the Rustic Furnished Tent Cabins. In addition, these tent cabins are furnished with antiques.

There are ten campsites that come equipped with water and electrical hookups, in addition to a number of other campsites that do not have such amenities. There is a cost associated with using the showers. You can make your camping reservations over the phone. Although RVs are permitted, the use of generators is not allowed.

Getting There

Keough’s Hot Springs is located along Highway 168, about 32 miles west of Bishop. The hot springs is located at the end of a short spur road off of Highway 168 and has ample parking in a gravel lot.

The hot springs has been around since at least the mid-1800s when miners first discovered the area. At that time, it was a simple bathhouse with a kitchen and accommodations for overnight guests. In the 1950s, the bathhouses were destroyed in a fire but were promptly rebuilt.

Keough’s Hot Springs remained in operation until 2014 when it closed down for repairs after a major storm caused heavy damage to buildings and trees. It reopened for day use in 2018 and is now open for visitors, though overnight stays are not available.

The hot springs remains rustic and unadorned but the buildings appear to be up to code and have been repaired from storm damage. Trees have been trimmed away from the buildings and fencing has been erected to protect visitors from wildlife wandering too close.

What to Bring

Keough’s Hot Springs has two pools, a large one and a small one, that are each fed by natural hot water rising up from the ground. The pools are open to the sky, so weather can affect your comfort level. If you plan to visit Keough’s in the winter months, bring a warm layer because temperatures can get below freezing.

If you visit in the summer, you’ll want to bring sunscreen, hats, and any other protective gear you need for hot springs. Be aware that Keough’s is a clothing-optional venue, so if you don’t feel comfortable disrobing in front of others, this may not be the place for you.

The pools are fed by natural hot water that is piped into a series of pipes and then overflow into the pools. You’ll need to adjust the flow by turning knobs at each pool to get just the right temperature for your liking. You’re free to bring your own towels or rent towels for a few dollars if you don’t want to leave yours behind.

Getting In

The hot springs are open 24 hours a day and are available for day use. A $10 fee is charged per person and includes use of the hot springs and river, access to the picnic area, as well as parking.

During the day, you can enter via the River Access Area or by driving to the Hot Springs Bathhouse. The River Access Area is open from 8 am to sunset and is located about half a mile downstream from the Bathhouse. During daylight hours, it is staffed by an attendant who checks in guests and collects fees. The Bathhouse is open from 8 am to 5 pm and you can check in at the front desk to pay fees.

If you’re planning to spend a night at Keough’s Hot Springs during your visit, you’ll need to drive another 2 miles north along Highway 168 to the BLM’s Keough’s Campground. There are no utilities at this campground but it does have potable water, outhouses, fire rings, and picnic tables. Reservations are highly recommended as sites fill up quickly during peak season; call (559) 565-4400 or email [email protected]

Exploring the Hotsprings

The main area of Keough’s Hot Springs is a large pavilion with ramadas, fire pits, picnic tables, and a large central hot pool. There is a smaller hot pool located upstream and downstream of the main pool. The springs are open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (9 p.m. in winter) from mid-May to mid-October and weekends only the rest of the year.

The springs can be accessed by either hiking or driving to the site. Driving is a better option for those with mobility issues or who have children or heavy coolers or bags to carry. It’s a bumpy dirt road that can easily be damaged by off-road vehicles, though it seems to be holding up well despite its rough condition.

While you’re here, don’t forget to explore the surrounding area and make sure to take a hike on the Keough’s Hot Springs Trail up Mt Abbotsford, which provides spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountains and valley below.

When to Visit

The best time to visit Keough’s Hot Springs is from June through September. During this time period, the temperature at the hot springs is perfect for soaking. Also, the best time to visit is after a big storm when the river levels are high and the water feels extra warm.

That being said, Keough’s Hot Springs does occasionally close for repairs, so it’s always a good idea to check before you head out there.

Keough’s is also a popular place for fishing and swimming in the summer months and accessing the surrounding trails for hiking and exploring in the fall months. Be aware that Keough’s is not open during winter.

Others

There are several ways to enjoy Keough’s Hot Springs. You can rent a cabin, camp out, or visit during the day for a dip in the hot pools and a picnic along the river.

Keough’s has two campgrounds—one for RVs and the other for tents—as well as seven cabins that sleep two to eight people. Both the campground and cabins are open year-round and have pretty much everything you’ll need, including electricity and hot water. You’ll have access to the hot springs during your stay, as long as you don’t mind getting there before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.

If you want to visit during the day, you can do so during Keough’s limited hours of operation. During summer months (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day), they’re open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m., Sunday. The rest of the year (September through March), hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday only. Admission is $15 per person, plus camping fees if you wish to spend the night, and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult member of their immediate family (no maximum on children).

Bottom line

In conclusion, Keough’s Hot Springs is one of the most beautiful and serene places in the world. It is an oasis of relaxation and a place to connect with nature. With its hot springs, hiking trails, camping sites, wildlife viewing opportunities, and stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Keough’s Hot Springs has something for everyone.

Whether you are looking for a tranquil getaway or an adventurous outdoor experience, Keough’s Hot Springs should be at the top of your list. With its natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere, it is sure to provide you with a unique and unforgettable experience.

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Local information

Address: 800 Keough Hot Springs Rd, Bishop, California 93514
GPS: 37.25416,-118.376537
Phone: 760-872-4670
Season: Year round
Website: keoughshotsprings.com

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