Buckeye Hot Springs: The Complete Visitor Guide (2022)

Cover Image for a travel guide to Buckeye Hot Springs.

Buckeye Hot Springs is a geothermal delight featuring natural soaking tubs with unbeatable views that relax the mind and soul. Nestled into the northern bank of Buckeye Creek within Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, visitors are guaranteed to come out refreshed and restored after a soak in these enchanted pools.

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know to protect and enjoy the natural treasure of Buckeye Springs. Please read the Ethics section carefully to ensure you understand the things you can do to ensure future visitors also have the chance to enjoy the hot springs.

Before you begin, make sure to open our guides to the nearby Travertine Hot Springs and the Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs while you are in the area. These springs are all located within an hours drive of Buckeye and make for some incredible soaks!

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Buckeye Hot Springs Video

The experience awaiting you at Buckeye Hot Springs is akin to a wilderness day spa. The calming sound of a babbling creek churns away as you soak in thermal mineral water touted for rejuvenating properties. Wherever you look, you will see nothing but the pristine wilderness of the Eastern Sierras.

We put together the following short video showcasing what to expect on your visit to Buckeye Creek.

*If you do not see the video above, you need to remove ad-blocking from this site 🙂

Buckeye Hot Springs Overview

Relaxing under the naturally-heated waterfall at Buckeye Hot Springs.
Relaxing under the naturally-heated waterfall at Buckeye Hot Springs.

Descriptions

From the parking lot, you will walk down a fairly steep hill to get to the Buckeye Creek below. On the way, you will pass two natural hot tubs known as the Upper Pools. These are both very warm and offer the best views.

Upon reaching the creek bed, you will discover a series of four semi-natural pools. Hot spring enthusiasts like yourself dug out these pits and built crude walls around them with nearby rocks in order to contain the heated water.

One of the most unique features of Buckeye Hot Springs is the natural water curtain that flows into the pools. As the thermal water cascades down the overhanging cliff, it creates a small waterfall that dribbles into the pools. This water is very hot and some may find it uncomfortable to sit under.

As they are natural pools, expect to be sitting on rocks and gravel in the hot springs. Each pool is about 2 feet deep, making them a comfortable depth for sitting or lying submerged in the hot water.

Close up photo of the waterfall at Buckeye Hot Springs.

Temperatures

The pools of Buckeye Hot Springs are fed by a constant flow of naturally heated water that runs down a travertine wall from the springs above. At the source, this water is approximately 135°F (57°c) but cools significantly as it travels down the rock into the soaking tub.

The soaking tubs themselves vary in temperature from 100-110°F (38-43°c). The first pool is the largest and warmest, decreasing in size and temperature as you move downstream.

It is also possible to control the temperature of the pools by moving rocks to alter how much cold water you allow in from Buckeye Creek. Of course, you can always just jump into the cold creek if you find yourself getting too hot and want to cool off!

Buckeye Hot Springs Facts & Location

Enjoying the views from the Upper Pools (aka Hillside Pools) of Buckeye.
Enjoying the views from the Upper Pools (aka Hillside Pools) of Buckeye.

Location of Buckeye Hot Springs

Off Buckeye Road, about 5.2 miles southwest of Bridgeport, California.

Coordinates for Buckeye Hot Springs: 38°14’20.3″N 119°19’31.6″W (open in Google Maps here)
Parking coordinates: 38°14’23.1″N 119°19’32.8″W (open in Google Maps here)

Quick Facts

Open: Buckeye Hot Springs is open Year-round, but check road conditions in winter months.
Size: Between the 6 total tubs, Buckeye Hot Springs fits 30+ people. This includes the 2 upper pools and all creekside pools.
Temperature: Varies, but about 100°F+ / 38°c+ in the tubs & 140°F / 60°c at the source
Development: Primitive – there is no piping or unnatural development at Buckeye.
Etiquette: Buckeye Hot Springs is “clothing optional”
Services: There is now one vault toilet available (new as of October 2021).
Hiking distance: The walk to Buckeye Hot Springs is only about 150-300ft.
Road Access: Any vehicle can drive to Buckeye
Fees: None! Buckeye Hot Springs are free to enter and park
Elevation: 6,890 ft (2,100 m)
Managed by: The National Forest Service

How to Get to Buckeye Hot Springs

A pretty but rugged road leading to the Buckeye Hot Springs.
A pretty but rugged drive is required to reach the Buckeye Hot Springs.

Reaching Buckeye Hot Springs requires a drive along 2.5 miles of unpaved road. The majority of the road is washboarded and a very bumpy ride, but you do not typically need high clearance or four-wheel drive to access the hot springs. If the weather has been particularly wet, the road conditions can worsen and four-wheel drive may be recommended for driving.

You’ll find the road well signposted and there is a parking lot located just 300ft from the creekside hot springs.

Despite the trail being short, it is steep in places with loose gravel. Access could be challenging if you have any mobility issues or if the region has experienced significant precipitation. Sturdy sandals or water shoes are recommended for hiking.

Use the map below for a visual representation on exactly how to get to Buckeye Hot Springs. This includes both the upper (hillside) and lower (creekside) pools.

Map of Buckeye Hot Springs

The map below shows the exact location of both the hillside (upper pools) and creekside Buckeye Hot Springs. Click here or on the map below to open an interactive Google Map in a new tab. You’ll find driving directions from Mammoth Lakes and Travertine Hot Springs (which we highly recommend visiting as well!).

Map Buckeye Hot Springs of exact locations and driving directions.
Map of exact locations for Buckeye Hot Springs and driving directions.

Directions to Buckeye Hot Springs

Buckeye Hot Springs are located along a dirt road off of Buckeye Road. GPS: 38°14’20.3″N 119°19’31.6″W

  1. From Mammoth Lakes take the US-395 N
  2. You’ll pass through Bridgeport then turn left onto Twin Lakes Road.
  3. After 7.2 miles of driving through farmland, you’ll turn right onto Buckeye Road.
  4. The road will change to a dirt road after 0.3 miles. Four wheel drive and high clearance is not typically required, but the road is heavily washboarded. Expect a bumpy drive!
  5. After 2.5 miles take a slight right to keep onto Buckeye Road. You will see a sign for the hot springs.
  6. Continue for 0.4 miles. You will then reach the parking lot.
Entrance sign for the springs and trail.
Entrance sign for the springs and trail.

From the parking lot you will see signs for the trail. Near the top of the trail, you will find two pools overlooking the river and scene below. Be sure to stop at these for a dip either on the way down or back up. The trail continues to the left of the first hot spring as you’re looking down towards the creek. From this point, the trail is clear and will take you down to the Buckeye Hot Springs alongside the creek.

When to Visit Buckeye Hot Springs

The best time to visit Buckeye Hot Springs is early in the morning when the air is still cool and you have the highest likelihood of being able to enjoy the springs without company.

Morning is the best time to visit Buckeye Hot Springs if you want them to yourself.
Morning is the best time to visit the Buckeye Hot Springs if you want them to yourself.

Regarding the best season to visit Buckeye Hot Springs, there are pros and cons to each:

Spring / Fall: Although a wonderful experience at any time of year, perhaps the best time of year to visit Buckeye Hot Springs is in spring or fall. During these shoulder seasons, the weather is cooler which allows you to thoroughly enjoy the warmth of the thermal water. In addition, the road conditions should not be problematic in reaching the parking area.

Summer: One of the wonderful things about Buckeye Hot Springs is that Buckeye Creek runs alongside it, offering a refreshingly cool dip in warmer weather. This feature makes it a popular destination even on hot summer days, unlike most of the other hot springs in the area!

Sitting in the heated pools along Buckeye Creek on a summer day.
The cool waters of Buckeye Creek run alongside rock-lined heated pools.

Winter: During the cold weather months, access to the hot springs may be restricted due to snow on the road. Though the hot springs themselves remain open, the roads are not maintained. To reach them, you may need to hike through snow.

Where to Stay near Buckeye Hot Springs

Accommodation near Buckeye Hot Spring is limited, but available.

Accommodation

The nearby town of Bridgeport is the closest option for accommodation. This is small town with a population of less than 550 people, so services are limited! However, the accommodation that is available all have good reviews! You can find current options for accommodation in Bridgeport here.

Buckeye Hot Springs also makes for a great stop on your way south to Mammoth Lakes, north to Lake Tahoe, or west to Yosemite, where you’ll find plenty more options for accommodation.

Camping

Buckeye Campsite is located within 0.25 miles of the hot springs and is a great option for camping in the area. It is a first-come, first-serve campsite with 68 single sites and is open seasonally from around late May to late September. There is a flush toilet and three vault toilets, but no potable water available. The current price (Aug 2021) for a site is $20.

The area surrounding Buckeye Hot Springs is popular for dispersed camping. As the region is managed by the National Forest Service, freedom camping is permitted but campers are expected to follow leave-no-trace principles. There are several areas to camp nearby, but understand that this is primitive camping with no facilities.

Camping is not permitted in the day-use area nor parking lot at Buckeye Hot Springs. If you do decide to stay overnight, at least ensure you do so responsibly and follow all guidance on the National Forest Service website, including packing out all your trash and camping at least 100ft from the water!

Soaking Etiquette and Tips

Please read the following section carefully to help protect this wonderful place.

Buckeye Hot Springs and Creek are a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike. Do your part to protect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Hot Springs Day Use Area to ensure this natural marvel remains open for others to enjoy.

Clothing is optional at most of the regional hot springs.
Clothing is optional at most of the regional hot springs.

Nudity

Buckeye Hot Springs is considered “clothing optional” for soakers. Therefore, you will most likely come across visitors enjoying the hot springs in their birthday suits.

While you’re welcome to wear a swimsuit, there is something special about experiencing the hot springs in the nude and connecting with nature. Most visitors who choose to go nude are respectful and discrete. If you’re planning on visiting with kids or aren’t comfortable with nudity, know ahead of time that this will likely be unavoidable.

Leave No Trace

Please follow all leave no trace principles. Leave the hot springs as good as you found them… if not better! There is no trash collection service at Buckeye Hot Springs so ensure you take all trash with you.

Please do not bring any glass containers to the springs! Broken glass is impossible to clean up and could result in someone being injured.

Enjoying the rejuvenating waters of the main pool at Buckeye.

Bugs

We didn’t find the mosquitoes to be a problem here on our daytime visit. However, they will likely be quite the pest in the evening during the summer, particularly at sunset!

Chemical insect repellants are not recommended as they will pollute the water source! Additionally, once you’re in the water the repellant will wash off anyway! It might be worth applying some natural insect repellant, such as this plant-based option, to your face during the summer (you can submerge the rest of your body into safety!).

If you’re visiting in cooler months you are far less likely to encounter any pesky bugs.

Hydration

While we highly recommend taking a few canned beers with you to the springs to enjoy at sunset, do not forget to also take plenty of water with you! You will be sitting in 100-110°F (38-43°c) water and can become dehydrated very quickly without noticing, particularly if you’re also drinking alcohol.

There is no available drinking water at the springs so please take plenty with you, ideally far more than you think you would need. The forest service recommends taking one gallon of water per person.

Tiptoeing into the cool water of Buckeye Creek on a warm summer day.
Tiptoeing into the cool water of Buckeye Creek on a warm summer day.

Altitude

Buckeye Hot Springs is located at an elevation of 6,890 ft (2,100 m). While altitude sickness is unlikely to have much effect until you’re above 8,000ft (2,500m), you may feel short of breath and dizzy at the hot springs due to the higher elevation, particularly if you’ve recently arrived in the area. This will usually pass within a couple of days. It is, however, worth keeping in mind as the heat of the pool along with the higher elevation may cause you to feel dizzy sooner than you may expect.

  1. A swimsuit if you’re not comfortable going nude or if there are families around!
  2. Flip flops or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet and possibly a bit muddy.
  3. A travel towel.
  4. Warm layers for before/after if it’s cold out.
  5. Ecofriendly/reef-safe sunscreen, our favorite is Stream 2 Sea sunscreen. As you’re at higher elevation, the UV rays are stronger here.
  6. Plenty of water!  (Ideally in a reusable water bottle to protect the world from unnecessary plastic!). As mentioned, it is easy to get dehyrated due to the heat and elevation. A gallon per person is recommended.
  7. small cooler of canned beer or your beverage of choice. Just please do not bring anything in glass.
  8. A camera! These hot springs are beautiful and you’ll likely want to capture the moment. All our photos were taken with our Sony a7riii.
Warm water spills over travertine rock into the small pools of Buckeye Hot Springs.

Bathing

The natural hot springs are for soaking, NOT for bathing. Soaps and other chemicals will pollute the water and seep into the local environment. Please also rinse off any insect repellant or lotions before entering the hot springs to help protect the environment.

Cell Service

Cell service is very limited in the area and you should not rely on it for navigation beyond Buckeye Road. Prepare yourself to be without service by downloading offline maps to ensure you can get about with ease.

What to see near Buckeye Hot Springs

Sophie watching sunset from a secret pool at Travertine Hot Springs nearby to Buckeye Hot Springs.
Sophie watching sunset from a secret pool at Travertine Hot Springs nearby.

Buckeye Hot Springs is just one of 10 hot springs in the area. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of these incredible natural wonders, open up our guide to Mammoth Lakes hot springs for everything you need to know.

If you are visiting Buckeye Hot Springs as part of a California road trip, there are a lot of other must-see destinations in the Eastern Sierra region nearby. These include other natural hot springs, Yosemite National Park, and more. If you found this guide useful, check out some of our other regional guides as well:

Mono County / Mammoth Lakes Guides

Yosemite Guides

Other California Guides

Buckeye Hot Springs Closure Update

Choose your adventure: soak in hot water pools or cool off in Buckeye Creek.
Choose your adventure: soak in hot water pools or cool off in Buckeye Creek.

Visitors in the summer and fall of 2021 would have seen signs or faced unexpected day-use and road closures while improvements were made to the facilities at Buckeye Hot Springs. Fortunately, that project was completed in October 2021 and there are no longer any scheduled closures.

Still, it is always worth checking the official Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest website for any alerts and emergency closures notices prior to planning your trip just in case!

Final Thoughts on Buckeye Hot Springs

A visit to the Buckeye Hot Springs is a must on any California bucket list.
A visit to the Buckeye Hot Springs is a must on any California bucket list.

Buckeye Hot Springs are a treasure of the Eastern Sierra Mountains and well worth adding to your California bucket list. We highly recommend pairing a visit here with the nearby Travertine Hot Springs and the many other incredible natural hot springs in Mammoth Lakes. There’s nothing quite like soaking in the thermal waters, with warm cascading water caressing your back and the soft cadence of the creek to soothe the soul.

We hope you’ve found all the information you need to have an enjoyable and safe visit to Buckeye Hot Springs. Most importantly, we truly hope you will do your part to protect these natural wonders.

As always, if you find any of the information here to be wrong or out of date, please leave us a comment and let us know. Or if you just want to leave a nice comment… we like that too 😉

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