Deep Creek Hot Springs

Located in the foothills of the north side of the San Bernardino Mountains on federal lands, Deep Creek Hot Springs have been a favorite of skinnysoakers and skinnydippers for years, despite its being only accessible by foot. Hot water seeps from the ground and rocks near a turn in the creek. A little hot water flow diversion, some mortar and the anarchical cooperative efforts typical of many such natural settings has resulted in a great soaking pool. Those wanting it hotter can use various small basins on a rock platform just above the Creek. There are several small sandy beach areas for stretching out in the sun and easy access to the cool waters of Deep Creek.

No overnight camping has been allowed by the federal agency controlling the area for years. People staying overnight have generally camped out at the Bowen Ranch, the adjacent private property on the ridge tops two miles by foot and a good five hundred feet in elevation from the creek bottom. The willingness of people to walk down and then walk back up this incline shows the value they have for the experience of Deep Creek.

Nowadays a federal land Adventure Pass is required to be in the area of the hot springs. Forest Service personnel do enforce this requirement if they see you.

Access to the hot springs was only recently reopened after a closure of several months in the aftermath of a major fire that burned thousands of acres on the north side of the San Bernardino Mountains. However, fire is probably only a minor concern in regard to restricting access to the Hot Springs. A more permanent closure may come as the indirect result of the growing development of the mountains and nearby desert and the accompanying demand to retain more and more of the mountains' water for exclusive human use. A group seeking protection for a endangered toad may well include permanent closure in its bargaining chips in its negotiations with the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Another danger is control of parking. The most convenient parking (mainly because of road conditions) is on private property. This fact was not lost on individuals controlling that property. The current charge for parking is four dollars per person. Free parking is best accessed with a four-wheel vehicle. Of course, the people at the booth for the private parking generally mention that for safety you should park where they can watch your car. Currently there is a legal battle over control of the buildings as well as the property itself.

A good source of information for Deep Creek is the web site run by a group of Deep Creek Hot Springs goers: <>.

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