A large concrete pool filled with hot mineral water, Dirty Socks Hot Springs is located in a desert of Owens Valley at the southeast edge of Owens Lake, 5 miles from the town of Olancha.
The hot mineral water was found in 1917 when a well was drilled in an effort to find freshwater. In 1927, a concrete pool and a few buildings were established in order to create a hot spring resort. After 10 years, the idea was abandoned and, finally, all buildings were demolished.
The round-shaped pool is fed by underground hot springs emerging at 90°F from the depth of 12,000 feet (3,657 m). The pool is 78 feet wide and 4-5 feet deep. The hot water is coming up through a vertical pipe into the pool at a rate of about 200 gallons per minute. Minerals in water consist mostly of sulfates, magnesium, and calcium. The pool's water overflows into an adjusted pond.
The legend says that prospectors and miners from the nearby Cero Gordo Mine used the pool to wash their dirty clothes and thus gave water its unpleasant smell. In reality, volcanic sulfur is what gives water the specific “dirty socks“ odor.
The water is cloudy because of a lot of algae growing in it making the pool looks unappealing for bathers.
There is broken glass found in the dirt around and in the pool, so please be careful and wear shoes. This location is pet-friendly and open year-round. Parking is located right by the spring, so no need for long walks to get there. There are no services on-site and overnight camping is not prohibited.
The best time to visit is spring, fall, and winter. Summer is too hot.
Dirty Socks Hot Springs | Facts
Location: 10 miles northeast of Big Pine • California • USA
Open: Year-round, the best time is spring, fall, and winter
Hiking distance: Short
Road Access: Any vehicle
Elevation: 3,600 ft (1,097 m)
From Lone Pine,
- Travel for about 22 miles south on US-395 to CA-190 in Olancha
- Turn left onto CA-190 and go 4.7 miles to the graded gravel road
- Turn left and go 0.4 miles.