Wilbur Hot Springs lies at the end of a long road in a remote valley about two hours northeast of San Francisco where the mineral-rich waters offer a special place to relax and detox. The Hot Springs’ history goes back long before European settlers arrived when the mineral hot springs were used by the Patwin, Pomo, Wintun and Colusi people who lived in these Northern California’s Coast Range mountains.
The original hotel and hot springs that were purchased by Dr. Richard Miller in 1972 comprised approximately 240 acres. In 1999, Mller bought the surrounding 1560 acres and designated the area as a nature preserve, placing a conservation easement on the property, thus limiting its development in perpetuity. In 2006, he began working with range ecologist Craig Thomsen from UC Davis to restore native plants to the area and combat invasive species.
Sheltered by a Japanese onsen-style “Fluminarium,” the healing water here is channeled into three long flumes that allow it to flow continuously as you soak in silence. Watch shy deer lurk between trees and dragonflies hover above as you spend a few relaxing hours here in silence, soaking meditatively, cooling down in the spring-fed swimming pool, visiting the nice hot dry dark sauna, or soaking meditatively in a pleasant hot pool overlooking the surrounding hills.
Day Use of the hot springs, pool, sauna and nature preserve is available from 10 – 5 p.m. daily at a rate of about $60. Single bunks are in the $150 range, rooms for double occupancy in the $250 range and cabins that feature a queen bed and a half bath are also available (check the site for details). There are always excellent massage therapists available to offer various forms of therapeutic massage modalities at a rate of $135 for 75 minutes.
The hills abound in native oak, pine, buckeye, redbud and manzanita, and the wildflowers that bloom in the springtime, include California Poppy, Lupine, Paintbrush, Yarrow, Larkspur, Clarkia, Owl’s Clover, Fairy Lanterns, Shooting Stars, Tidy Tips, Goldfields, Cream Cups, Western Wallflowers, and the rare Adobe Lily. In the skies are golden eagles, great blue herons, killdeer, woodpeckers, wild turkeys, ruby-crowned kinglets, goldfinches, western bluebirds, Bullock’s orioles, red-winged blackbirds, cliff swallows, belted kingfishers, and a variety of owls and hawks. Bald eagles may also visit during the winter.
Old mine shafts on the property serve as homes for colonies of endangered Townsend’s big-eared bats and during the warmer months, they will emerge from the caves at twilight to feast on insects by night. No meals are provided but there is a wonderfully well-appointed communal kitchen available onsite where guests are encouraged to bring and cook their own food during their retreat.