Soaking in the mineral-rich waters of the Olympic-sized pool is a favorite pastime at the historic Indian Springs resort, where bathrobes are the uniform of the day. From early morning until midnight, the pool, fed by onsite geysers originating thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface, welcomes bathers who roam the expansive grounds unselfconsciously dressed as if they just exited the shower.
At the spa, mud baths are administered by patient, professional spa staff — who undoubtedly have heard every gasp, giggle, and groan as they lower guests into concrete tubs of warm mud consisting of pure black volcanic ash and thermal mineral water. After 20 minutes or so, a shower rinses off most of the mud, followed by a soak in warm mineral water to finish the job. The steam room and another shower are the last stops in the pore cleansing regimen. Mineral baths, facials, body scrubs, and massages are also offered at the busy spa that operates for 12 hours daily.
Indian Springs dates back to 1860 when Sam Brannon envisioned a world-class resort based on the area’s steamy mineral waters. He coined the name “Calistoga,” a combination of California and Saratoga, a resort in Upstate New York he admired. Today, Indian Springs has grown, added Sam’s Social Club restaurant, renovated and increased rooms, all while maintaining its historic, relaxed, and kitschy ambiance.
Guests include families, couples, spa devotees, bachelorette parties, business groups, weddings, reunions, and travelers who just want to unwind for a while. Bicycles, shuffleboard, bocce ball, fire pits, and hammocks attract some visitors, while others enjoy the short walk to downtown Calistoga for shopping or dining.
Ideally situated at the north end of the Napa Valley, Calistoga is close to some of Napa’s finest wineries including Chateau Montelena, Sterling, and Schramsberg, making Indian Springs the perfect home base for wine tasting excursions. And when the day is done, there’s that huge, warm pool with its steam drifting upward, just waiting for your evening swim.