- Posted April 19, 2012 by
mono hot springs, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel photo of the day
Mono Hot Springs, CA: Can You Keep A Secret?
It's my job to uncover great places and tell the world about it. But sometimes I get a little selfish. There are destinations so enchanted, so blissful, I want to keep them a secret to preserve their untouched glory.
Mono Hot Springs Resort deep in Central California’s Ansel Adams Wilderness is one of those I'd rather not share.
But alas, duty calls.
Driving six hours northeast from Los Angeles, Mono Hot Springs is a historical 1930's retreat of rustic stone cabins, natural mineral baths and some of the best hiking of the High Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s beyond remote. There’s no stumbling onto this magical place as it takes an hour on a spine-tingling one lane, dirt road to reach it from Highway 168.
As an ideal place to 'glamp' it, Mono Hot Springs Resort (named after the Mono Indians who discovered the springs) offers extremely reasonable rates for stone cabins with beds, private bathrooms and individual campfire sites. ($125 per night.) If you like to rough a little more they also offer less expensive yurt and rustic cabins with beds but no inside bathrooms.
Bring camping food and supplies the onsite River Rock Cafe is only open on weekends but their general store with basic foodstuffs and necessities is open daily 8 am - 8 pm.
Therapeutic Hot Springs
To unwind from the arduous drive, head to the Mono Hot Springs campsite adjacent to the Resort, cross the log over the river and climb up fifty feet to the first natural mineral bath. It may look like just a concrete rectangle tub but slip off the clothes and gingerly ease into a therapeutic, mineral soak - compliments of Mama Earth. It is said the Mono Indians brought white men here by horseback to cure their ailments. In the 1930’s, Mono Hot Springs was developed into a swinging bathhouse. There are other relic tubs up the hill from that time, but my favorite is the one closest to the river.
Being a city gal, noise is synonymous with everyday living. The silence of Mono Hot Springs Resort is one of its most luxurious amenities. Sleep is unhampered under dark starry skies with only the occasional distant yipping of rambunctious coyotes.
Devil’s Bathtub Hike
With an easy twenty-minute hike from the resort to fish, swim and cliff dive in Doris Lake, the whole family can join in.
If you want a challenge, drive 20 minutes past Vermilion Valley Resort on Edison Lake on the border of Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness to the Devil's Bathtub hike. Devil's Bathtub hike, a 9 mile round trip hike that is moderate to difficult, is one of the most pristine hikes I've ever taken.
Along the Devil's Bathtub hike, the fallen Giant Redwoods, Sequoias and Juniper Trees make like a natural playground, great for facebook photo ops.
If meadows turn you to mush, the Twin Meadows at the halfway point are postcard perfect with wildflowers and greenery framed by surrounding soaring trees.
With a crystalline lake, like God’s bathtub rather than Satan’s, surrounded by mountain peaks, pine trees and animated boulders, the destination definitely compensates for fighting mosquito swarms and trail weariness.
Mono Hot Springs Resort Spa
Needing a little TLC after the hike, the Swedish massage at Mono Hot Spring Resort's spa was in order to fully relax for my campfire dinner of Filet Mignon, gourmet cheeses, French Bordeaux and toasted marshmallows for dessert. The spa facilities are basic, but just that they offer any spa services is a luxury in itself.
The majestic scenery, clean air and simple solitude of Mono Hot Springs Resort is something I'd like to keep to myself like a buried treasure destination, but here it is - my gift to you.
If you’d rather fly than drive, closest airport is Fresno, CA International Airport. Rent a sturdy car, possibly a 4WD, and head northeast 90 miles, which translates into 2.5 hour drive.