Driving down I-5, I made a quick exit here when I saw the sign, as there is very little I love more than soaking. The ramp looked forlorn, the road rough, and the distance more than I was willing to risk if the Springs were abandoned or it was the name of an old town and there weren’t bathing opportunities at all (not that uncommon out here). So I turned and headed to Mendota with the idea to do some research on them at the hotel later that evening.
When I established there were functioning hot springs, I asked everyone I met in Hanford about them but no one had heard of them or been there. This piqued my interest and so despite leaving Hanford later than I wanted (though with a sassy new swim suit), I headed for the springs.
It’s a winding, scenic drive through dry country to get to Mercey Hot Springs. It doesn’t look immediately promising, but then that’s also something I like about living out west.
The Hot Springs consists of one large warm pool (advertised as cool, but not really), soaking tubs, a sauna, and some rustic-looking accommodations or space to park your RV or pitch your tent.
It looks like it’s under a constant, slow remodel, but while I was there it was quiet and peaceful. The owners are doing beautiful stone work and the craftsmanship was like a lo-fi McMenamins: a bit hippy, a bit homespun, and lovely.
The soaking tubs at Mercey are individual bathtubs and it’s the first time I’ve been in one like them, though I know that the springs at Carson are like this. They reminded me of cowboy baths in cartoons.
In the newer area, these tubs are quite long and deep, and looked like they were custom-poured. I had no problems fitting all of my large 6 foot frame into them. In the clothing-optional tubs behind the cabins, they were actually old bathtubs and so some piece of me (my feet, my belly) needed to be out of the water.
The water smells strongly of sulfur, which for me is no problem, believing as I do in “taking the cure”. While I imagine the water temperature varies some depending on the season or other mysterious geological activity, it was coming out at a pleasant warm-hot bath at around 107. I imagined it was warmer in the clothing-free area, but it supposedly is a bit cooler back there.
I’ve only a few complaints really about it or desires: the sauna could certainly be hotter and it would have been nice if there was a nice cool plunge pool, though I have no idea how they’d keep anything cool here in the summer; and while I didn’t think the fee was too much, I am not sure why they put a four hour time limit on it considering the effort folks need to make to even get here. Perhaps there are other times of the year when it is more crowded and they need more rotation happening.
Finally, if you are planning on staying there, you’ll want to make sure to plan ahead: there is nothing around for miles and miles. It could be thirty or more miles to the nearest convenience store.
I don’t know how pleasant it is to soak here in the hot summer, but I thoroughly enjoyed my too brief stop at Mercey Hot Springs. The next time I find myself in this area, I definitely plan on going back for some quality relaxation.
Mercey Hot Springs is about two hours from San Jose and Fresno. I can’t recommend enough the drive on the small country road from Holister: amazing.