|Buckey Hot Spring
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Buckeye Hot Spring, California
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Buckeye Hot Spring is a natural spring located near the town of Bridgeport, California, on the north side of Buckeye Creek in the Toiyabe National Forest. This region is situated in a valley along the beautiful and scenic eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
The easiest route to Buckeye is accessible by 2-wheel drive vehicles under normal road conditions. Part of the route is dirt road and is subject to washboard, mud, snow, and ice conditions, depending on the season and recent weather. From U.S. Hwy 395 in Bridgeport, take Twin Lakes Road for about 7.3 miles/11.7km, then turn right on Buckeye Road (FS017). Follow Buckeye Rd. for about 2.7mi/4.3km, where you’ll come to a bridge crossing the creek. Continue across, turning right at the fork in the main road and about .4mi/.6km to a parking area on the right.
1. View from east of Bridgeport and US Hwy 395, looking west toward eastern edge of Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
An upper spring flow and small pool are located beneath a pine tree adjacent to the parking area. From here, the pools along the creek below are visible. The upper pool wasn’t very appealing during our visit…rather muddy and stagnant, so we passed on a soak there.
2. View from Buckeye Road, looking south toward Twin Lakes.
3. Upper pool in foreground; lower pools visible at the bottom of the hill, along the same side of the creek.
At the lower springs, there were 3 pools formed by arranged boulder rings along Buckeye Creek, at nearly the same water level of the creek, so they’re obviously subject to flooding during the spring season and heavy rainfall. Hot spring water from the source along the hillside above showers down into the pools from an overhanging mineral deposit ledge. The overhang forms a small grotto behind it-a natural wet sauna. Pool temperature is varied by allowing more or less creek water to flow in.
4. View from lower pools back to photo 3 vantage point.
5. The lower pools and Buckeye Creek. Warm sunshine, hot springs, and beer… photojournalism of the outdoors is a tough life, but somebody’s gotta do it.
6. LV Bare Hiker soaking in front of ‘the grotto.’
We encountered about a dozen other visitors during our afternoon stay at Buckeye. The local custom is clothing optional, but less than half the visitors chose that option. A few visitors didn’t take the hike down the hill to the lower pools, either to avoid the steep climb back up, or the naturists seen below. One woman came down with a daughter in her late teens or early 20s and a son around age 12. There were 2 or 3 nude males and 2 nude females already present. Mom and daughter seemed quite comfortable with that, as if they’d been there before and this was the expected norm. The young lad, however, appeared to have been traumatized for life by this close encounter of the naturist kind. I thought for sure he’d take a tumbling fall while trying to make the final hillside descent with his head turned in the opposite direction and his peripheral vision shielded by his hands. He kept at least one hand up at all times, as long as there was a nude person, male or female, in that general direction. Even after the females dressed and departed, and Mom mentioned it was no different than boys in a gym locker room, the poor kid continued to act disgusted and miserable. Mom and Sis were just as amused and entertained by his behavior as we were. I overheard Mom tell her son that some day he’d write about this experience.
7. The main hot spring source originates at over 130 degrees F/54C; the rust color is mainly from the type of algae that lives at this temperature.
8. Note: those ultra high performance, hurricane-proof, 4,500 SPF sport sunblock lotions leave an ashy, Casper the Ghost tint on even a dark tan, which may draw ridicule from your fellow soakers and scare textiles away.
Conditions were perfect for my first and only visit to Buckeye Hot Spring. Hopefully, it won’t be my last. If you’re traveling through the Bridgeport/Twin Lakes area, this is a highly recommended stop. The nearest stores and services are in the aforementioned towns, but if you’re on a budget, it’s best to stock up on enough fuel and supplies to get you to the next major settlement, such as Carson City, NV. Fuel prices in Bridgeport were 90 cents more per gallon than in Carson City, and everything in the small general store was rather pricey….good thing we’re conditioned to survive on beer alone.
9. Scenic upstream view of Buckeye Creek.
10. Parting shot of Buckeye Hot Springs, for those who like the scenery without the presence of those annoying, naturist hot potters.
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