Gaviota (Las Cruces Hot Springs) - Hot Springs in California

Wild warm springs in a state park.

The milky white water with a sulfur smell was characteristic.


Gaviota State Park is reported to be closed due to severe storm damage. Please consider visiting based on the latest local information.

Unpopular side of the state park

Where US Route 101 runs north from the Gaviota Coast through the Santa Ynez Mountains.

The parking lot was located off Exit 132, a short distance back on the highway toward Los Angeles.

Parking Lot 01

That was one of the parking lots at Gaviota State Park.

It was on the east side of the state park, which is divided into east and west by Highway 101, not the west side, which is more popular because of the beach.

Trailhead 01

The fee was $2.00 per car.

An unattended fee box was left with envelopes to fill out.

Trailhead 02

Hike 0.7 miles from the parking lot to the warm springs.

Although there are some elevation changes, the difficulty level is low.

Trail 01

However, one must be on one's guard, as mountain lion attacks have been reported in the past and poison oak has recently been reported to be thriving.

The key point to note is this fork in the road in the second half.

Trail 02

Head for the side road on the right, not the left that leads to Gaviota Peak.

I see there's no sign.
It's like they dare to hide it.
Trail 03

Once here, it is just a short climb along the creek that flows out of the source.

Water full of bubbles

Two Pools 02

I noticed the smell of rotten eggs until I found a pool under palm trees.

Two Pools 01

There were two pools, both primitive, molded of rocks and concrete.

They were adjacent to each other and there was a difference in elevation.

Dip In 01

This wild hot spring has been known for a long time and was listed in a book in 1880 for its efficacy against skin diseases.

At one time it was called "Las Cruces Hot Springs" after the village at its base that disappeared with the construction of the national highway.

Upper Pool 01

The concrete structures are said to be a remnant of the New Deal policies during the Great Depression when they were built to create jobs.

Source 01

The upper pool was so shallow that I had to lie down to soak up to my shoulder.

Clear, colorless water gushed out from the bottom of the fine mud deposit, along with gases.

Water Discharge 01

Its air bubbles and mineral ingredients made it slippery to the touch.

Located directly above the Santa Ynez Fault, the water temp was low at 96 degrees F, but the power of the geothermal activity could be felt.

Lower Pool 02

The water overflowing from the upper pool runs down a gentle slope to the lower pool.

Lower Pool 03

The water turned milky white due to compositional changes, and a large amount of precipitates were found on the rocks.

Lower Pool 01

A gush of water was also seen around the lower pool but on a smaller scale.

The water temp was even tepid because it was basically just water that has flowed down from above.

Source 02

Clothing is optional, but because of the easy access and relatively high foot traffic, it is a good idea to keep clothes within reach.

Swamp 01


Gaviota (Las Cruces) Hot Springs, Goleta, California, U.S.

My rating

Type: Walk-in

Rule: Clothing optional

Chemical use: No

Water temp: Up to 96 degrees F

Official website

  • Writer

Hot Springer Ken

A hot spring enthusiast based in Japan. Toured over 300 North American hot springs while working in Texas from 2016 to 2022. For updates, visit X or Instagram!

-, , ,