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Big Caliente trip

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September 13, 2003 11:27PM
Thanks to all the people on this forum who helped me with advice and directions. This Saturday after I finished some business in Santa Barbara I headed to Little Caliente Hot Springs. If you ever get directions from the Internet sites, make sure you check them against the map. I found this out the hard way. After spending 2.5 hours I had to go back to where I started from. I bought a map at a gas station but it helped very little. Every step of the way was very difficult. Nobody knows where the right way is. Most of the street signs are hidden or missing.

Here's what you need to do:

After you exit 101 on Milpas Street drive on Milpas to Mason Street and turn right on Mason.On Mason head to Salinas and turn left. This road takes you to 144 (aka Sycamore Canyon) and not the Milpas Street. Take 144 to 192 (aka Stanwood Drive). Turn Leftish(almost straight) onto 192. Do not turn right as some sites, books and posted sign say. Drive on 192 to El Cielito. Keep in mind that the sign for El Cielito is hidden in tree leaves. As I recall El Cielito is the next street after Orizaba Rd. Orizaba is clearly marked, so El Cielito should be next. Go up on El Cielito. You will pass Mountain Drive
( also marked ) and Cielito Ln (poorly marked). When you reach an intersection with no street signs of any kind you hit the jackpot :-). Look at the right. Today I saw a small hand written sign that said "Mountain Cavalry" turn right in the direction of the sign. You are now on the Gibraltar Rd. Then you keep climbing up to the top until you reach El Camino Cielo. You'll see a big sign that says "Big Caliente -17 miles". At this point, turn right on El Camino Cielo.This road goes right along the top spine of the mountain. After a few miles, the road starts to veer left down the other side of the mountain. You'll pass an open gate (shown on the Forest Service Map as Romero Saddle. Webmaster Rick has posted this on-line map on this forum) Keep driving until you get to the bottom of the valley. At Juncal Campground, the road veers left. Follow the signs to Big Caliente.
Keep in mind that at some point about 3/4 of the way you will see some water in front of you with the sign saying that the road closed. I almost turned back when I saw the sign. Just drive a bit closer and you 'll see a road to the left. That's the road to the springs! Closer to the springs you will have to drive through 5" of water as the small bridge is flooded.

No, you do not need to drive an SUV or 4x4 to get to the springs. I highly recommend a vehicle with at least 16 inch tires. My Accord has 15 inch tires and it suffered a lot. The road itself is a cruel mistress. I counted over 100 blind spots where you can hit a car coming the opposite way. Watch out for potholes. They are in the most inconvenient and dangerous places. As a rule, when you leave a bright spot to go to a shaded spot and momentarily loose your vision by the nature of human eye, a pothole or three are there for sure waiting for you.

By now you might be asking yourself why I am giving out directions to Big Caliente when I was going to Little Caliente. Simple answer - on the way to the springs I was passed by 2 SUV's with drunken morons screaming , fighting each other and throwing beer cans. One had inflatable naked woman doll. They turned to Little Caliente at the ranger station and I decided not to follow.

Upon arrival to the Big Caliente I met 2 people. One was a regular and the other was the first timer. I went to satellite pools located around 200 feet from the parking lot. I spent 20 min in the pools all by myself. The large and deeper pool was scolding hot. I removed the hose hoping it'd cool down a bit. 3 hours later I still could not put my hand in it. The shallower pool's temperature was actually nice. However, I did not like any of the pools. The large was hot and dirty with deposits and dead leaves in the water and on the bottom of the pools. The smaller was cleaner but sleazy. The pool by the parking lot did not look too good either.
The regular was surprised when I told him that some volunteers at the Deep Creek actually vacuum the pools. It was a revelation to him. He said he was going to come to Deep Creek and check it out. He could not even imagine that vacuuming could be done.

Our quite conversation was ruined when 6 vans and trucks pulled over and around 20 people came with loud music and unreasonable laughs. They had 20-30 children with them. So we forgot about solitude and piece. After they all left the pools were left in a very sorry condition. I picked up some trash and the regular drained the parking lot pool.

I agree that the best time to visit Big Caliente is after the hunting season is over. There were way too many people with rifles and guns walking in and out of springs.

SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

Big Caliente trip

Sam D. 18333September 13, 2003 11:27PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

Sam D. 1925September 14, 2003 12:12AM

Re: Big Caliente trip

DCR 1719September 15, 2003 08:32AM

Re: Big Caliente trip

Paul P. 1687September 15, 2003 01:11PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

JoelTDahl1550March 19, 2010 03:22PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

JoelTDahl1333March 19, 2010 03:27PM

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Rick1308March 19, 2010 03:37PM

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Rick1329March 19, 2010 03:34PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

JoelTDahl1513April 25, 2010 04:16PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

Sam D.1192April 25, 2010 07:41PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

JoelTDahl1235April 30, 2010 12:28PM

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JoelTDahl3083May 03, 2010 10:44PM

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hiker1285March 19, 2010 10:18PM

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JoelTDahl1118April 30, 2010 12:29PM

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Paul P.1344May 06, 2010 08:44AM

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jobe1160May 13, 2010 06:30PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

jobe1100May 13, 2010 06:34PM

Re: Big Caliente trip

JoelTDahl2351July 05, 2010 07:48AM

Re: Big Caliente trip

Sam D.1980July 06, 2010 02:09PM



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