Nestled in the western side of Greater Palm Springs, the stunning desert landscape conceals natural treasures that begin deep beneath the surface — hot mineral springs in the cities of Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs — where visitors can experience a tradition of relaxation and rejuvenation.
Beyond relaxation, experts note that the benefits of soaking in hot mineral springs — and the minerals that get absorbed through the skin while you’re immersed in the water — can range from improved blood circulation and natural pain reduction to skin rejuvenation and stress release. In addition, immersing yourself in hot mineral water shares the positive effects of exercise by boosting heart rate and decreasing blood pressure, offering a unique and stress-free alternative for wellness seekers with limited mobility. Plus, the warm, buoyant waters contribute to increased flexibility and the circulation of lactic acid from sore muscles, which can aid recovery for athletes in training.
In short, soaking in hot mineral springs is like hitting the vacation jackpot! The only challenge is choosing where out of the many options in Greater Palm Springs to go, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s some information to help guide you.
Desert Hot Springs: "California’s Spa City"
One of the nine cities that make up Greater Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs is located about a 20-minute drive (11 miles) from Palm Springs International Airport. Ever since homesteader Cabot Yerxa uncovered a source of both cold and hot springs there in 1913, Desert Hot Springs has been known as a destination for curative healing and relaxation.
Aptly referred to as "California’s Spa City," Desert Hot Springs gets its mineral-rich water — which contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, lithium, and hundreds of other important trace minerals — from a groundwater basin beneath the city. Hot springs are created when water seeps down through fissures deep into the earth, where it’s heated before rising back up as super-hot steam, which in turn heats up the water. This is true for water that’s north and east of a branch of the San Andreas Fault that runs through the city. Water from the other side of the fault produces cold springs. Many of the city’s spa hotels, such as Azure Palm Hot Springs Resort & Spa and The Spring—A Natural Hot Mineral Spring Resort & Spa, are located in that hot-water area — which Yerxa called “Miracle Hill,” a term still used today.
“The water has powerful health attributes,” says Jeff Bowman, Past President of the Desert Hot Springs Historical Society. “Its most important health factor is its high pH and trace elements of lithium. When you’re soaking in the water, it feels like you’re in liquid cotton. There’s just something about it. You’re enveloped in goodness.”
In addition to soaking in the hot mineral waters, all who visit Desert Hot Springs can drink the tap water to increase the health benefits of their visit, as the water comes from the city’s pure cold springs. In fact, Desert Hot Springs’ municipal water has received more medals than any other municipality in the world over the years at the annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting event.
Palm Springs: Sacred Water of the Agua Caliente Tribe
Located in downtown Palm Springs is the Agua Caliente hot mineral spring that gave the city its name. Sacred to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who have been its stewards for thousands of years, the hot mineral spring is called Séc-he (meaning “the sound of boiling water” in the Cahuilla language) and emerges from the ground at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
The water source of the Agua Caliente hot mineral spring is different than that which flows beneath Desert Hot Springs; it comes from a geothermal reservoir located about 1.5 miles (7,920 feet) below the earth’s surface. Carrying a plethora of beneficial minerals including bicarbonate, calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and sulfate, the water carbon-dates to 12,000 years ago — meaning you are soaking in pristine ancient water that last saw the Earth’s surface at the end of the ice age.
The only way to experience this sacred hot mineral spring is to visit The Spa at Séc-he, which is owned and operated by the tribe. The 73,000-square-foot spa complex is located in the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza and features 22 private mineral baths filled with water directly from the ground, so you’ll be soaking in the mineral water’s purest state.
In addition to indulging in the rejuvenating Agua Caliente hot mineral spring water, you can immerse yourself in many other healing experiences at the spa, and you’ll likely want to allocate a full day during your visit. With an extensive treatment menu to choose from, a cryotherapy chamber known for alleviating muscle pain and accelerating the healing of athletic injuries, two float pod suites, two halotherapy salt caves, a grounding room, an acoustic wellness lounge, a menthol dry sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, a tranquility garden, and a café, you’ll be sure to leave feeling a sense of ultimate relaxation and wellness. Explore your spa day at the spa’s official site, thespaatseche.com.
Choosing Your Hot Water Oasis
Whether you’re drawn to the therapeutic oasis of Desert Hot Springs, the waters of the Agua Caliente tribe’s sacred Séc-he hot mineral spring in Palm Springs, or both, each offers a unique experience. So pack your bags and embark on a wellness journey! The healing waters of Greater Palm Springs are waiting to renew your spirit and rejuvenate your body.