When you slide into the soothing water of Keough’s Hot Springs, you’re bathing in a piece of Owens Valley history. Although this rustic resort south of Bishop has changed hands a few times since Phillip Keough first dreamed it up in 1919, visitors can bathe in the same pool that visitors soaked in almost a century ago. Keough’s captivates with the perennial drama of its landscape and its aura of living history.
Set alone on the desert plain—with rocky brown hills and snow-white Sierra peaks rising to the west—Keough’s features a 100-foot-long pool that shimmers within a mint-green wooden pavilion. Water blasts endlessly from elevated shower heads into the pool’s deep end, and not just for effect; it’s a cooling system for the spring water, which flows from the ground nearby at around 130 degrees. The main pool is kept between 86 and 92 degrees (depending on time of year), while an adjacent smaller pool is held at a steamy 104 degrees year-round. Take a night swim to watch a mesmerizing mist shift under fluorescent light and listen to the relaxing spray of water.
Across from the pool house stands an original stone bathhouse, a vestige of the 1920s and ’30s, when one could dine, dance, and even fish on the premises. Take a short jaunt up the nearby Rock Garden Trail to delve deeper into local geology. Along the path, various large rocks—including locally extracted lava and obsidian—are labeled with descriptions. You can scramble farther up the slope to reach rock outcrops with views of the Owens Valley and White Mountains, and watch steam rise from Keough’s pools below.
STAY: Keough’s has several cozy tent cabins for rent a short walk from the hot springs. The one-room tents are furnished with mattress beds, heaters, and mini fridges. Relax on the covered deck or build a pit fire outside. Cabins are even stocked with the fixings for s’mores. Campsites are also available nearby.
From CA-395 8 miles south of Bishop, turn west onto Keough Hot Springs Rd. and continue for a half-mile to reach the resort. Keough’s is open every day except Tuesdays. Day passes are $12 for adults. Dog-friendly!