Guidebooks to Western Hot Springs

On my long photography trips through the West I usually take a basic library of six or seven books for each area to be visited:

For many years now my standard hot spring guides have been those by the late Jason Loam, a man who did much to publicize the hot spring experience. The original titles are out of print, but they have been updated by Marjorie Gersh-Young and republished.

Hot Springs & Hot Pools of the Northwest: Jayson Loam's Original Guide covers Alaska, Canada, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest: Jayson Loam's Original Guide covers Arizona, Baja, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Hawaii. So between them these two titles cover the entire west, from the Rockies to Hawaii. Recommended.

The Jayson Loam guides concentrate on hot springs you can either drive to, or reach by a short walk from the road. But there are many wonderful hot springs that are way back in the wilderness, offering solitude and scenery beyond that of the more accessible ones. Hiking Hot Springs in the Pacific Northwest, by Evie Litton, does a great job of covering these remote springs, though only for Oregon and Washington.

Yet another guide to northwest hot springs worth looking at: Umbrella Guide to Northwest Natural Hotsprings, by Tom Stockley, and B.G. Olson.

Books about Canada are usually much scarcer than ones about the U.S., so I was pleased to find Hot Springs of Western Canada: A Complete Guide, by Glenn Woodsworth.

Falcon Guides have commissioned a whole series on hot springs, covering one or two states in each volume.
Touring California and Nevada Hot Springs, by Matt C. Bischoff
Touring Montana and Wyoming Hot Springs, by Jeff Birkby
Touring Colorado Hot Springs, by Carl Wambach
Touring Arizona Hot Springs, by Matt C. Bischoff
Touring Washington and Oregon Hot Springs, by Jeff Birkby
Touring New Mexico Hot Springs, by Matt C. Bischoff

I have heard that there are some beautiful and exotic hot springs in New Mexico, for which we have: Enchanted Waters: A Guide to New Mexico's Hot Springs, by Craig Martin. And here's another one about Colorado: Colorado's Hot Springs, by Deborah Fraisier.

Beautiful Spas & Hot Springs of California, by Stanley Young, and Melba Levick (photographer) is a rather different sort of hot spring book. It focuses on a few developed hot springs and luxurious spas in California. They range from high-price resorts such as the Givenchy Hotel and Spa, to the "human potential" Esalen Institue perched on the cliffs of Big Sur, and the remote Zen Buddhist monastery (and rustic hot spring) at Tassajara, deep in the Santa Lucia Mountains. The photography is beautiful, and the locales are spectacular. Recomended as either a coffee table book, or a hedonist's guide to soothing waters.

Finally, there are the unique guides by George Williams III. These are slim volumes, locally published, with few photographs, and some of the maps are just terrible. But there is a vigor and candor in Mr. Williams' writing that is irresistable. It is almost like you met him in a hot spring somewhere and he told you about his favorite springs and sketched you a map. Not a polished production like the Jason Loam books or the Falcon Guides, but I have them all, some of them autographed by the author. If you can't get them from Amazon look for them in small towns near hot springs.
Hot Springs of Nevada, by George Williams III,
Hot Springs of the Eastern Sierra, by George Williams III
Hot Springs of Northern California, by George Williams III


Contact Don Bain: dbain@virtualguidebooks.com