Hikers guide to hot spring etiquette

Visiting natural hot springs has become very popular since the rise of social media platforms. However, there is more you need to know about hot springs than their location. Check out these ten tips for hot spring etiquette.


Sespe Hot Springs – Ojai, California
Sespe Hot Springs – Ojai, California

1. Nudity

The first thing you will notice when you start visiting hot prisons more frequently is the nudity. Although it is required in most locations to wear clothes, many people choose to get nude. The typical rule of thumb is always to bring a suit just in case someone is patrolling. In addition, don’t get undressed if children are around and don’t stare at nude visitors!

2. Jewelry

Take off your jewelry before entering the pool. Sometimes the sulfur content of natural pools is strong enough to ruin cheap jewelry, so it’s better to just play it safe. There’s no need to ruin your favorite necklace or ring!


3. Pack In – Pack Out

Be respectful of the area. Typically glass bottles are prohibited for obvious reasons, but make sure to clean up any trash you create while you are using the pools. Especially if you choose to visit a backcountry hot spring, be sure to take one last look before you leave for any trash.

4. Taking Turns

This one differs depending on the situation, but simply remember that sharing is caring. If someone is in the pool you want to check out, don’t linger in view and pressure them to get out. The same goes if you are the one already in the pool. If you see people are waiting, don’t spend two hours soaking up the heat.


Iva Bell Hot Springs – Mammoth Lakes, California
Iva Bell Hot Springs – Mammoth Lakes, California

5. Test the Water

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people don’t do this. You won’t usually run into this issue at easily accessible pools, but you will in the backcountry. The source of many hot springs emerges from the ground at almost 200 degrees. It’s important to make sure it has cooled down enough before entering.

6. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!

If you are on a backpacking trip, it is essential to replace the water you lost while soaking. Bring a bottle of water to the pool to drink during your soak, and be sure to drink extra during your trip. Dehydration comes on fast, so drink before you get thirsty.

7. Respect for Other Soakers

A couple of things fall into this category.  Don’t pee in the pool or blow your nose, don’t splash or be too loud, and don’t kick up the grime on the floor. Be respectful of the other people using the pool, and of mother nature herself for letting you soak!


8. Don’t Camp Next to a Pool

In the backcountry, it is important to not set up camp right next to a pool and claim it as your own. Rule of thumb is that you should try to set up at least 200 yards away.


Gold Strike Hot Springs – Las Vegas, Nevada
Gold Strike Hot Springs – Las Vegas, Nevada

9. No Dogs

If you hike with your dog be sure to leash them up before arriving at the hot spring. The high water temperatures are bad for dogs, and drinking the water is even worse. Even if you have a well-behaved dog, take precautions so they are not injured.

10. Learn the Rules of Your Location

Different countries have different rules and customs for hot springs. If you are visiting a spring outside of the United States, be sure to do some research on the country’s hot spring etiquette.


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rebecca-hext is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival