Best time to travel to Death Valley

Saline Valley Hot Springs in Death Valley

A small desert oasis was a popular hippie hangout

Best time: March–May | September–November

Saline Valley Hot Springs
Saline Valley Hot Springs
Saline Valley Hot Springs

One of the most arid spots in California, Saline Valley is a large area in the northern Mojave Desert. Three hot springs in the middle of the desert surrounded by palm trees offer a nice place to relax after a day of desert hiking and camping. A day trip to the springs is doable with an early start from one of the nearby towns (Big Pine, Lone Pine or Bishop), but most of the travellers prefer to stay overnight due to the long driving hours to and from the place.

Saline Valley was first known for its abandoned mines, but in the 1960s hot springs became popular among nudists, freethinkers, and other alternative groups who even had a semi-permanent camp in the desert. They've made several soaking pools of concrete, rock and tile, built showers, and even planted some grass areas.

When Saline Valley was included into Death Valley National Park, the camp was dispersed. You can get to the springs if you ask at the Big Pine station for directions, as they are not easily found on navigators. The best time to hike in Saline Valley is spring and fall, to avoid the winter storms, strong winds, and road closures of winter and the unbearable heat of summer. Whatever season you choose for the trip, make sure to bring lots of water and back up devices to call for help if necessary.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Saline Valley Hot Springs?

To avoid summer heat and winter storms, the best time to visit Saline Valley Hot Springs is from March to May and from September to November. These months offer refreshing water temperatures that are a stark contrast to the area's scorching desert climate, creating an unforgettable experience for visitors seeking relaxation. Show more

Where is Saline Valley located?

Located in eastern California, USA, in the northern Mojave Desert, Saline Valley is accessible by driving from Big Pine, Lone Pine, or Bishop towns. While the hot springs are not readily found on navigators, Big Pine station can provide directions. Visitors often choose to remain overnight, given the extended driving distance and the challenging road conditions that may be encountered. Show more

What is the history behind Saline Valley and its hot springs?

Originally known for its abandoned mines, Saline Valley became a hub for nudists, freethinkers, and other unconventional groups in the 1960s. These visitors installed soaking pools, showers, and concrete, rock, and tile structures, making the area more comfortable to inhabit. The camp was dispersed when the site became part of the Death Valley National Park, but the unique hot springs have remained a prime attraction. Show more

Can you camp at Saline Valley, and if so, where can you do it?

Many visitors choose to camp in Saline Valley due to its remote location. Although there are no official campsites, several camping options are available in the hot springs area. Further, the Wilderness camping rules of the Death Valley National Park are in effect, with some sites having basic infrastructure like fire-pits. It is advisable to carry water and pack waste away. Show more

What are the road conditions like for getting to Saline Valley, and are they suitable for regular cars?

Navigating the road to Saline Valley may be challenging and unsuitable for standard cars in certain sections due to the terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. It is common to travel via four-wheel drive vehicles while carrying extra water and utilizing backup communication devices for safety. Additionally, the closest towns are between 50-80 miles apart, and no services are provided in between, requiring visitors to come prepared with their essentials. Show more

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