About Little Caliente Hot Springs in Santa Barbara, California
Update: The roads on the way to Little Caliente are closed as they have been hit with landslides due to wild fires and then heavy rain. Visitors can still get there on foot, mountain bike, or horseback if they so choose, but know that it’s a long distance in hot dry terrain. Contact the national forest for updates.
Little Caliente, like it’s big brother Big Caliente, is a well-known backcountry hot spring in the mountains north of Santa Barbara. The hot spring is a series of rock and mortar pools out in the open with minimal shade overhead. Wooden benches and platforms have been built next to the pools. Hot water cascades from the springs down into the upper pool and the temperature drops from super hot to tolerable as the pools get farther from the source.
It’s a long drive on rugged backroads that can take a couple hours from the Santa Barbara. If the roads are wet they will be slick and unpassible. Even when dry they will be rutted and high-clearance or 4WD vehicles are suggested. With a capable rig you should be able to drive to the hot springs which are about a mile up from Mono Camp (a walk-in site).
Little Caliente Hot Springs are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and there are no fees since they are day-use only. The other campgrounds nearby include Middle Santa Ynez and P-Bar Flat which should have more space than Mono. An Adventure Pass is required for overnight stays at any of the camps. Bring lots of water as the creeks in the area are typically dry. Contact the Santa Barbara Ranger District Office of Los Padres National Forest if you have any questions about getting to the hot springs. Hikers can use trails to get there too. Here is a topo map of Little Caliente Hot Springs.
- Little Caliente Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
- (805) 967-3481
- Visit website
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