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Bodfish, California

Remington Hot Springs

One of the last free public hot springs is decorated with hippie art. 

Remington is one in a series of geothermally heated springs that emerge along the 165-mile Kern River, with its headwaters in the High Sierra and its terminus through a boulder-pocked, winding canyon into California’s Central Valley.

Native Americans had built small villages near several of Kern’s springs, but it was white settlers who would eventually transform these mineral-soaking pools into commercial ventures. Once gold mining fervor petered, the men and women who remained in the Kern River Valley swapped their mining pans for cattle, alfalfa, and industrial pursuits like hydropower, lumber, and construction. The many hot springs along the river became a popular destination for health-seeking tourists, and put a pretty penny in the pocket of the landowners who charged admission.

Today, Remington is the only free, public, and undeveloped hot springs in the Kern River Valley. The water, which is sulfuric and tends to tarnish metals, flows from the ground at 3.5 gallons per minute. There are four tubs total, including one away from the river in a grassy, shaded location off the trail, and one cold plunge right next to the river. Bold displays of wildflowers bloom here in the spring.

Like hot springs elves, the “Friends of Remington” scrupulously clean and maintain the cement tubs out of their own good will. Wander about and you’ll notice that these voluntary stewards have adorned the springs over the years. There are messages like “Eternal Love” and “Children of the Earth” etched into the walls of the river-rock pools. Once you’ve soaked and you ascend to the dirt parking lot off the Old Canyon Road, shiny trinkets will catch your eye–tiny tiles, crystalline stones, and colored glass embedded in the cement-worked steps.  

Know Before You Go

The tubs are located 42 miles east of Bakersfield, California, via State Hwy 178 and old Kern Canyon Rd., along the Lower Kern River. To get to the tubs, take Kern Canyon Rd. from the town of Bodfish or from Highway 178 (via Borel Road). About 2 miles west of Hobo Campground, a ¼-mile hiking trail descends 300 feet through cottonwood forest to the hot springs.Be aware many visitors take advantage of the remote location to swim nude.