Not too long ago my partner and I were looking for a quiet weekend getaway and after some research decided on Wilbur Hot Springs which was originally established in 1865. Visit Wilbur’s webpage and you will find the following description:
“Wilbur is an off-grid, solar-powered destination resort with naturally occurring hot mineral springs in the heart of an 1800-acre nature preserve located in Northern California. Our baths and flumes are clothing optional.”
Wilbur prides itself on being rustic. It contrasts with other more refined and busier hot springs resorts. We were looking for a quiet, restful, and healthy escape and that’s what we found at Wilbur. As mentioned in the quote above, Wilbur is remote. You realize just how remote starting with the entrance road. Its long, its dirt and at some point, if you’re like us, you’ll think you’ve taken the wrong turn. Persevere. Arriving at Wilbur you’ll find a main building (which dates to 1915) where you check in and a number of modern cabin accommodations.
The rooms are simple. If you’re looking for high-end comfort you should probably look elsewhere. But they are quiet and very comfortable.
Before you visit, Wilbur’s website recommends you read their FAQ’s and “Planning Your Stay” pages. You should. Just a few items of note –
- No cell phones or other service.
- Bring your own towels (in fact your best bet is to bring everything you need. Don’t assume Wilbur supplies it.)
- Bring your own food.
- Clothing in and around the Baths is optional.
For us Wilbur was just right.
The hot springs were wonderful. Three adjacent “flumes” offered three temperature levels. The water emerges from the Wilbur source at approximately 145° F. When it reaches the flumes, it has cooled to about 128° F. The water is channeled into the flumes with average temperatures of 98° F, 105° F, and 109° F. Adjacent to the flumes is a “plunge pool” in the form of a deep old porcelain tub filled with bracingly cold water. Moving from the flumes to the plunge pool and back is a wonderful wakeup for your body. Also adjacent to the flumes is a large pool with plenty of seating for relaxing and enjoying the sun.
I had never been to a clothing optional spa before and faced it with some trepidation. But I found it appropriate to the environment and for me it added to the experience. The clothing optional area is fenced and discrete. Having said that, the choice is yours. There was no pressure to disrobe.
I made a reservation for a massage, which really hit the spot. The massage cabins are well appointed. The masseuse was skilled and listened carefully. My masseuse worked primarily in San Francisco but had come to Wilbur for the summer. She “lived” in a screened–off part of the cabin. Her experience showed.
An important note about food – Bring your own. We knew this was the case, but made the mistake of packing simple ready-to-eat fare. We did not realize that Wilbur has a large commercial style kitchen for its guests to use. We love to cook and next time will be sure to bring ingredients for dishes we will prepare ourselves. Localswill be glad to supply wine for the occasion.
Wilbur is remote in the best of ways. There are wilderness trails to hike, an outdoor pavilion that’s ideal for yoga. Wildlife abounds. No light pollution – the nights are silent and the stars are bright.
We left Wilbur relaxed and refreshed knowing we’d return. As we left Wilbur we had a very fitting farewell as a coyote crossed the road ahead of us.