Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Hot Springs

When I got my GPS unit about 6 years ago I instantly became obsessed with trying to find hidden or little known places. Well, that eventually turned into trying to find hot springs in and around San Luis Obispo. And that lead me to this site that list all the known hot springs in California and their GPS coordinates. There is a few ways to use this data: 1) Click the link on the site and it will take you to a nice topo map 2) Put the coordinates straight into your GPS unit 3) Put all the points of interest into Google maps by using Batch Geo (Easier to copy and paste data into excel, format, then paste into Batch Geo). I actually do all of these things because once you get there it is better to have too much information.
To be honest I did not have the best luck finding most of the hot springs. I started looking for them too late in my college career. But it is a goal of mine to find them when I visit.
Here is a list of the local hot springs and a link to a map of San Luis Obispo Hot Springs

STATE LAT LONG Popular or USGS Spring Name TF TC
USGS quadrangle
CA 35.649 -120.687      108 42
CA 35.663 -120.692 PASO ROBLES ARTESIAN SPRING  102 39
CA 35.122 -120.542 NEWSOM SPRINGS    99 37
OCEANO 7.5  
CA 35.269 -120.851 PECHO WARM SPRINGS   95 35
CA 35.908 -120.367 TABLE MOUNTAIN (SPRING)   88 31
CA 35.4 -120.25 CAMETA WARM SPRING   73 23

 On the top of the list, the spring with no name. I searched for a while and I believe it is located some where in the middle of the river.

The Paso Robles Artesian Spring I believe is one of the springs that is used by Paso Robles Inn. I guess the reason that Paso Robles is even in existence is because of the Natural Hot Springs. Many people including the Native Americans believed in the healing powers and would travel to Paso Robles just to soak. It also appears that another part of this giant underground spring came to the surface after the 2003 Earthquake and can be seen in the parking lot of City Hall.

Newsom Springs (confirmed in the comments by the owner that this is on private property) - I have not visited this one, but it is worth checking out (map). According to the Geothermal Map of California it is 97 F and used for baths or pools. Here is one other description I found, "Newsom's Hot Springs are in Newsom Canyon, a tributary of Arroyo Grande Valley. The hot sulfur springs, emanting from Miocene rocks, occur probably along minerlized sones. The springs had been developed for public use. One of the springs issued water of 100F. An 1888 chemical analysis showed that the spring water was magnesium-calcium-sodium bicarbonate in character and had a TDS concentration of 630 mg/L" - Source

(map courtesy of Brandon Stevens)
Pecho Warm Springs is out in Montana De Oro, I was close to finding this one until the dog got some ticks and we had to turn around. The spring appears to just be off the dirt road/trail that is right before you get into the cove. Look at the map above and good luck.

The other spring in Paso Robles called Santa Ysabel Springs (Sulphur Springs) is really the only one I was successful finding. I am pretty sure this one is on private property so go at your own risk. We parked up on the road, then walked down into the creek and after about 2 minutes were pleasantly surprised to see a man-made pool around the spring. It hadn't been used in probably decades, but the water was a bit warm. By the time we found it though we didn't have much time, so I would like to go back and explore the workings a bit more.

Table Mountain Spring and Cameta Warm Spring are both a good distance from San Luis Obispo, so I never took the opportunity to even look for them. If you have any luck finding any of these springs please post in the comments. I will update this post with any progress.


  1. My buddy and I found the Santa Ysabel spring last night. Too late to take a dip but woth the find. Going to hit up again at a later date.

  2. Just attempted pecho warm spring with no success. The fire road is in great shape but once you turn off the trail is SEVERELY overgrown and not pleasant. Despite the poison oak everywhere I continued up the old trail all the way to a saddle. No springs in sight the whole route up

    1. Thanks for looking Brandon. If you have success on any of the others, please report back.

    2. No problem, awesome post. I think the Newsom springs may be on private land but I'm going to try and figure it out.

    3. Hello again Jeff, I happened to be stumbling through my old bookmarks and found your page again. I'd recommend taking down the satellite image marked "spur trail" "park" and "waypoint d" as it is incorrect. Greg was asking about the discrepancy. I'll be on the Central Coast this coming week, maybe I'll look into Newsom springs.

    4. Thanks for the reminder - it has been removed and just the map you provided is shown. Have fun.

  3. Hey just wondering if anyone has some input on ones that are a likely find? Pecho seemed good until i read the above comment. Santa Ysabel seemed pretty cool and i would love to find that one some time. Let me know if you guys have any suggestions?

  4. The two maps shown for the Pecho spring show conflicting locations. Brandon Stevens commented that he was unsuccessful in finding the spring, but one of those maps is provided by Brandon Stevens, did he go back again and find it and provide this new location?

    I'm guessing Brandon did go back and find it, per this site:

  5. A few years has past since I was initially interested in a few of these springs. But I did some digging on Newsom's Spring and it seems to be located on a private ranch. I did extensive searching on the satellite imagery with little luck. Although I was able to find this information confirming it is out there somewhere...

    1. Did you ever find pecho warm springs? I have tried searching but got stuck from poison oak!

  6. Hi there, I live on the Newsom Springs property and yes, it is private, so please respect that. I can confirm it's more like a warm spring than hot :)

    1. Thank you for commenting. It's always nice to know the truth and I'll add a note above so people know it is private. Any future plans to make it public?


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