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Fly-in Hot Springs near an airport/airstrip

April, 2010

I have only been to a few of these – I’ll visit a hot springs if I’m nearby but I don’t actively seek them out.  However when thinking about fly-in remote hot springs, I was surprised at the number of them I could come up with that are near an airfield.  Maybe an alternative to that $100 hamburger?

Know of any that are not on the list?  Let me know!

Here is a list:

Mammoth Lakes, CA / Hot Creek

Mammoth airport is on Hot Creek road and the FBO is named Hot Creek Aviation, named after the hot springs 2 1/2 miles away.  There is a gravel road shortcut leading east from the airport to Hot Creek road, then just look for signs.   I would recommend a bike since the walk would be on a dusty, gravel road.  I  had flown to Mammoth for a day of mountain biking with a friend and thunderstorms had rolled in by late afternoon.  We rode out to Hot Creek to wait out and watch the lightning show from the hot pools which was great.  Unfortunately the show didn’t end, and we eventually had to get a hotel in Mammoth and fly out the next day.

Bridgeport, CA / Travertine Hot Springs

These hot springs are only a mile from the airport!  Its a very nice spot with clean pools (I witnessed an elderly volunteer from Bridgeport cleaning it), plus some natural travertine pools down below.  I’ve heard it’s getting popular so I wouldn’t personally go there on a weekend.  Use Bing maps (Google didn’t name Jack Sawyer road), and look for Jack Sawyer road south of the airport.  The hot springs are on the apex of the Jack Sawyer loop, and can be seen as green on the satellite view.  You can easily see from the map how to walk or ride from the airport.

Markleeville, CA  / Carson River Hot Springs / Grover Hot Springs

From the Alpine County airport in Markleeville, you can either ride a bike 10 miles to Grover Hot Springs State Park where there is a public hot springs (hot and cold swimming pools), or you can do a grueling 5 mile cross country hike to the remote wilderness hot springs on the East Fork Carson River.  Do the bike ride.  I was taking a break from skiing one winter and wanted a place to hike with my dog where there wasn’t a lot of snow.  I wanted to see if I could hike to the hot springs from the airport, and I did but it was a long hike.  Five miles hiking (10 miles roundtrip) without a trail is a long way.

Sierraville, CA / Sierra Hot Springs

Although I’ve landed at Sierraville to ride bikes in the beautiful alpine valley there, I’ve haven’t been to the hot springs yet.  Sierra is a commercialized hot springs, unlike most on this page, with lodging, etc.  Be careful at the Sierraville airport, there is rising terrain at both ends so it pays to study it beforehand and from the air before landing.  The hot springs are only a mile or so from the airport, and I would be surprised if the hot springs folks wouldn”t pick you up at the airport.

Surprise Valley, Cedarville, CA

This commercial hot spring in upper northern California is on the list to do with my wife sometime.  It sounds like a romantic get-away with nice villas, massages and an airport pickup from the Cedarville airport.  Surprise Valley Hot Springs

Chicken Strip, CA / Saline Valley Hot Springs

Its not likely I’m going to visit these hot springs with its 1,400 foot runway – just a tad short for me.  It is one of the few remaining backcountry airstrips in California.  Apparently the strip is close the hot springs. Update:   I’ve been told by a couple of pilots that the slope of the runway makes it possible for the likes of me and my plane – so I may actually try to fly in there some day.  Update Update: I now have indeed flown into the Chicken Strip = see this post.

Mercy Hot Springs, Fresno CA

I haven’t been to Mercy, but here is a trip report from another aviator that has:  Mercy Hot Springs.  Mercy doesn’t have an official runway, apparently the runway is Xed out and you use it at your own risk.

Aqua Caliente Airport, Anza Borrego State Park / Aqua Caliente Springs

This southern California airstrip is 1/2 mile from the hot springs, which are public swimming-pool style, located inside the state park.

Alvord Desert, OR / Alvord Hot Springs

I would like to visit these, and almost got the chance.  I had a business meeting in Idaho and ended up flying low over Alvord, contemplating a landing.  But it was early spring and although there were a couple of trucks driving on the dry lake bed, I was afraid it was still too wet for my little tires (at worst I could flip the plane on landing, but typically you would just be stuck until it dried out).   When its dry, you can land on the lake bed, and then taxi fairly close to these hot springs.   Apparently they are nice, and I’ve seen photos of a small deck deck and nice changing room.  The problem is that when it is dry enough to land on the lake bed it is probably too hot to want to get into some hot springs during the day time.  I guess this means an overnight stay.

Here is an update that Dean S. emailed me: “ I’ve got personal experience with Alvord. A number of Burning Man aviators such as myself fly up there during the event each year. It’s a bit of a walk to hike to the actual hot springs but not far and it’s relatively flat and easy to spot. Plus, the hot springs tubs/tanks have a unique way of regulating the amount of hot water. There’s a large aluminum pipe that goes from the hot springs to the tank. Want less hot water? Just put a block of wood under the pipe and the majority of the hot water stops flowing. Pretty nifty! And, there’s a nice wood deck around the two large tubs for placing your clothes.

20 miles SSE of Fields, OR / Willow
This was provided to me by a pilot from the Backcountry Pilots forum:  N42,16.528, W118,15.919  This spring has a nice pool to soak in and an outhouse. Land on the dirt road. The road can be very muddy after a rain, and there will be ruts. Watch those long props.

Black Rock Desert, NV / Trego, Double and numerous hot springs

I haven’t been to any of these hot springs, so I would be interested in trip reports on anyone that flew in to visit them.  There are numerous hot springs that ring the Black Rock desert, but I don’t know which are close to areas that are best for landing an airplane.  I have landed there during Burning Man, but that is on a makeshift runway and the hot springs in the area are closed during the event.

15 miles WNW of Denio, NV / Bogg hot springs
This was provided to me by a pilot from the Backcountry Pilots forum:  N41,55.332, W118,48.099 This spring is more “wild”, but a great soak. You can land on the gravel road to the East of the springs.

60 miles WSW of Denio, NV / Double hot springs
This was provided to me by a pilot from the Backcountry Pilots forum: N41,03.039, W119,01.627  This spring has a nice metal watering trough for a tub. You can land on a short stretch of dirt to the north. Again, muddy after a rain.

Johnson Creek, ID / Bathtub

I love the photos of people relaxing in that bathtub perched on the hillside above Johnson Creek in the Idaho wilderness.  I’m going to have to visit there some day.

Lower Loon Airstrip, ID

Hot springs are apparently 1/2 mile upstream from the airstrip.

Warm Springs, ID

This was provided by Craig on the Cessna Pilot’s forum: It’s a relatively easy strip by backcountry standards.  The hike to the springs is a little over a mile from the airport. The adjacent campground has water but not much else. It’s a beautiful spot.

Atlanta, ID

Also provided by Craig on the Cessna Pilot’s forum: It’s way up at the headwaters of the Boise river on

Atlanta, ID

the west side of the Sawtooth range (other side of the mountains from Smiley Creek). Once you land (land North, takeoff South!), it’s about 1/2 mile into town, and then about another mile East out of town to the springs. If you have the time, make a weekend out of it and stay at the Beaver Lodge. The owner (Russ) will probably lend you his truck for the drive if you don’t feel like walking. Lots to see and do in the area.

Puertecitos, Baja California, Mexico

Bill left a comment on this post about a beach-side hotsprings in Puertecitos, 55 miles south of San Felipe in Baja.  Apparently you can land on the beach and enjoy the hot springs.   That may be a little too much of advenure in a 210.  If you got stuck or hit something on the beach you would be there for a long time…

More?  Let me know.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May, 2010 11:12 am

    Ney, you wouldn’t have any problems landing at the Chicken Strip in your T210. 1,400 feet sounds short, but it’s uphill landing and downhill taking off, so effectively it’s much longer. Plus there are no obstructions, and it’s low elevation. I’ve seen some, uh “colorful” characters out there, though. But if you like Burning Man, it might be your kind of thing!

    • May, 2010 7:57 am

      Craig,

      You are the second person that has told me I should try it. So its on the list and perhaps on a trip to LA I’ll stop in. (Burning Man isn’t my thing and I may never go again, but I did find it fascinating and fun).

  2. andy permalink
    May, 2010 8:44 pm

    hot springs montana checkit out,,,,, real hotsprings by the airport

  3. Josh permalink
    December, 2011 5:45 pm

    Dearwater field, only a few hundred yards from http://www.sierrahotsprings.org/

  4. Bill Miller permalink
    April, 2012 7:21 pm

    Love your site!! I am one of those guys… and I have feathercraft Kayaks.. and Love biking… But… to add to the hotsprings.. Gravel strip Puertecitos. The hot springs is just SE of the airport 1/2 mile… And the temperature depends on the tide.. The springs come out of the rocks and into pools of sea water….

    bill

  5. Anonymous permalink
    January, 2013 4:03 pm

    Puertacitos has a great gravel/dirt strip right in the middle of town. A 3 minute walk to the hotsprings. 2000 foot runway. Land either way. I have been there many times in my TArrow. Great spot!! Great hotsprings!!

  6. March, 2013 4:53 am

    Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after checking through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  7. bill permalink
    March, 2013 9:57 am

    Doug, Just to let you know, I have a 1981 T210 and that is what I took into Puertecitos. You could do it easily.

  8. October, 2013 7:21 pm

    I have been to Agua Caliente (L54) before. It’s a pretty nice place. We camped over night for twenty bucks. The pool is extremely refreshing. It’s kind of a walk from the airstrip to campground (on a paved road, slightly uphill,killer in the heat) I called ahead and asked if they could pick us up and the lady on the phone thought it was absurd and said “no. We don’t do that.” I didn’t see her when we arrived but the guy/Ranger who was around was very friendly and helpful. The most important thing: DO NOT GO DURING THE WARMER MONTHS/TIMES. it’s closed in the summer because of the uninhabitable temperatures, and I think we went a month or few weeks before it closed.. It was kind of miserably hot, and the pool closes around 5pm. Definitely would be a great trip in the winter. PLEASE NOTE: I HAD NO CELL SERVICE! There are signs posted I think if you drive x miles you can get service, but you will most likely be without your cell (count on it not working). There was a payphone at the entrance. Thank goodness it was my only source of weather.

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