Buckeye Hot Springs: Everything You Need to Know! ⋆ We Dream of Travel Blog

Buckeye Hot Springs: Everything You Need to Know!

Cover Image for a travel guide to Buckeye Hot Springs.

Nestled into the northern bank of Buckeye Creek withinHumboldt Toiyabe National Forest, Buckeye Hot Springs provides a thermal delight with unbeatable views to relax the mind and soul. You’re guaranteed to come out refreshed and restored after a soak in these enchanted thermal pools.

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 its rejuvenating properties. When you open your eyes, all they see is unspoiled wilderness in every direction.

We’ve put together this comprehensive guide in order to protect this natural treasure by provide you with everything you need to know to have a safe, responsible, and enjoyable visit. 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 sprigs.

We also recommend visiting Travertine Hot Springs while in the area. Open our guide to Travertine Hot Springs in a new tab to discover everything you need to know, including the exact locations for the numerous secret hot springs in the area!

For the ultimate hot springs experience, you’ll also want to check out our guide to all the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes so you don’t miss out on any!

Disclosure: In order to keep providing you with free content, this post may contain affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase through one of these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So a HUGE thank you to you if you click one of these links 🙂

Buckeye Hot Springs Overview

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

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

Four rock-walled pools have been dug out below the wall by volunteers to contain the hot water, creating the hot pools that are there to enjoy today!The pools themselves vary in temperature from 100-110°F (38-43°c). It is also possible to control the temperature of the pools by moving the rocks to alter how much cold water can get in from Buckeye Creek that runs alongside. Or, if you get too hot, just jump into the cold creek to cool off!

As they are natural pools, expect to be sitting on rocks and gravel in the hot springs. Each pools is about 2 feet deep, making them a comfortable depth for sitting or lying submerged in the hot water. The first pool is the largest and warmest, decreasing in size and temperature as you move downstream.

Close up photo of the waterfall at Buckeye Hot Springs.

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. Be sure to test the water temperature first before sitting under it! As the rock overhangs, it creates a cave-like area where you can even get behind the waterfall in some spots.

As well as the main Buckeye Hot Springs, you will also discover two other rock-walled tubs just beckoning to be soaked in. These are located close to the parking lot near the beginning of the trailhead and are hotter than the pools below. Make sure you stop at these either on the way down or back up. Each has enough room for about 4 people and offers beautiful views over the creek and valley below.

Buckeye Hot Springs Facts

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
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)
Elevation: 6,890 ft (2,100 m)

Open: Year-round
Size: Fits 30+ people between the various pools by the creek and the two pools higher up on the bank
Temperature: Varied (100°F+ / 38°c+), 140°F / 60°c at the source
Development: Primitive
Clothing: Optional
Services: None
Hiking distance: 150-300ft
Road Access: Any vehicle
Fees: None

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. Although the majority of it is washboarded and makes for a bumpy ride, you don’t typically need high clearance or four-wheel drive to access these hot springs. If the weather has been particularly wet, the road conditions can worsen and four-wheel drive may be recommended.

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.

Below we have covered exactly how to get to Buckeye Hot Springs, including 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, however the road is heavily washboarded so 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

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.

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.

Regarding the best season for a visit, there are pros and cons to each.

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.

During the winter, access to the hot springs may be restricted due to snow on the road. While the hot springs themselves do not close, the roads are not maintained and you may need to hike in through snow.

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 seasons, the weather is cooler which allows you to thoroughly enjoy the warmth of the thermal water, and the springs remain easily accessible.

*Buckeye Hot Springs Closures:
It is worth noting that there is currently (August 2021) a sign at Buckeye Hot Springs to inform visitors that improvements are being made to the day use area by the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and closures will be in effect at times. With this in mind, please check the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest website for up to date alerts regarding closures.

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 small town has a population of less than 550 people, so options are somewhat 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 managed by the Forest Service and is popular for dispersed camping. There are several areas to camp nearby, but understand that this is primitive camping.

Camping is not permitted in the day-use area or parking lot. If you do decide to stay overnight, at least ensure you do so responsibly and follow all guidance on theNational Forest Service website, including packing out all your trash and camping at least 100ft from the water!

It’s also worth noting that gas in Bridgeport is very expensive (around $5/gallon when we visited July 2021), so try and fill up elsewhere on the way!

Hot Tubbing 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. While the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is currently undergoing improvements on the Buckeye Hot Springs Day Use Area, there are also plenty of things you can do 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, like the other hot springs in the area, are considered “clothing optional”. 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! Glass can be easily broken with so many rocks around and cleaning it up is a nightmare, and will inevitably end up with 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. It is recommended to take a 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 of6,890 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.

Packing

You don’t need to bring too much with you to enjoy Buckeye Hot Springs. However, I would recommend the following:

  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 (to keep pollutants out of the water), 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 limited in the area and we didn’t pick much up once we were on Buckeye Road. Be prepared to be without service and download offline maps to ensure you can get about with ease.

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.

What to see near Buckeye Hot Springs

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 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:

Yosemite Guides

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 an absolute treasure 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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**All photos contained in this photography-based travel blog are copyright of Adam Marland & Sophie Clapton. 
They are not to be used for any purpose without the expressed, written consent of their owners.**