Road Trip: Saline Valley Hot Springs

The Springs

You arrive at the lower springs, where the group fire pit and the most developed area is. Hot tubs made from concrete and rocks hold the water (there’s a bunch, most of which are pretty private) and there’s even a stone walkway through the well-trimmed grass and porcelain tubs set in the ground. Fresh water showers give bathers the ability to rinse off before hopping in the water. Huge palm trees provide shade and, if that’s not enough, camo netting has been stretched between them in places. You could visit in the height of summer and its 120-degree plus temperature and be comfortable.

Lower springs Lower springs

We ended up camping at the upper springs, ¾ of a mile further on, for a little more privacy. Setting up a bunch of tents in the dark wasn’t easy, but everyone pitched in and we had fire, carne asada fajitas and spots to sleep sorted by 8pm. By then it was in the 30s, so we wore all our clothes for the five-minute walk to “Wizard Pool” and shed them as quickly as possible before jumping in the water. Wiley perched on the edge with the tips of his paws in the water and looked on dejectedly at the people he couldn’t reach.

Overhead, the moon was so bright that the stars weren’t great, but the upside was that it illuminated the snow-capped peaks surrounding us, here in the middle of the most remote wilderness in California.

What You Need To Visit

The road in isn’t hugely challenging, but it is a long way from help and has no cell phone service. It’s also subject to extreme, quickly changing weather. We had to ride through snow, on ice (only one crash there) and through soft sand. The road to the springs itself is also extremely bumpy, requiring a high-clearance vehicle if you’re going on four wheels. Stuff can go wrong and, if it does, you need to be prepared to deal with it yourself.

At a minimum, wear clothes capable of handling dramatic swings in temperature, take at least one gallon of water per person, per day (add a few extra in case you get stuck) and take all the tools, knowledge and tubes you’ll need to fix your bike without outside help. Particularly those tubes, flats here are common thanks to the sharp rocks. There is no food, no water and no outside help once you turn down Saline Valley Road. A big ADV bike will get in, but a dual sport will be much more fun. Plated bikes only.

Campsite Campsite

The people who maintain the springs do so without financial compensation. We brought them a couple grocery bags filled with fresh produce, to help extend their time between challenging supply runs. If you visit, you should do that too. Cleaning supplies like bleach, toilet paper, scrub brushes and hand sanitizer are also appreciated and go towards keeping this beautiful area as nice as it can be.

Also travel with a respectful attitude, both for nature and the other people enjoying the springs. Don’t ride off the marked roads, don’t litter and don’t be a nuisance. If the springs become a problem, we will lose access to them.

Worth It?

600 miles and 12 gas stops later, Lara asked if us guys felt the trip was worth it. After all, all we did was ride bikes for two days solid, sleep in a tent, cook over a fire and soak in some hot springs. What was a fairly routine road trip for her and Racquel in the big ol’ truck was a challenge on two wheels. We got cold, we got numb and we got sore, but we also experienced one of the most unique environments on earth perched on top of two wheels and overcame a challenge in the distance, the navigation and the time. My answer? Totally.

What is the most remote spot you’ve been to on a bike?

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