Travels in the American Southwest
Keough's Hot Springs
GPS - N37 15' 15.2"  W118 22' 35.81"
Off US395, 8 miles north of Big Pine
Road factor/Accessability - two lane paved
~258 miles from Las Vegas

Built in 1919 by Phillip Keough at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the one-time health resort surrounds hot springs which probably had been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans. The resort enjoyed great popularity during the Roaring Twenty's entertaining both locals, travelers and possibly stars of the silent screen, and the Depression Thirty's when youth from the nearby the Civilian Conservation Corps camps would enjoy a break from their labors. Baseball games and boxing matches were standard fare as the resort was considered the center of Owens Valley entertainment.

Officially listed at 128 degrees with a flow of 528 gallons per minute, the resort's pools are continuous-flow, non-circulating. They are drained and refilled weekly (Tuesdays when I visited in '01). Billed as the "Eastern Sierra's Largest Natural Hot Springs Pool", it is only possible because of the spring's high output. The continuous runoff leaves the resort area heading east toward US395 where it has received the name "Keough's Hot Springs Ditch" or locally, "The Ditch". Some folks avoid the $7.00 fee charged at the resort and soak in "The Ditch".

The resort is surrounded by an RV campground which serves as a base for folks visiting Yosemite, Mono Lake, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and other nearby National Parks and Forests. From the outside, the pools are surrounded by a brown shingled wall, but when you step over the threshhold, you're transported into the world of tourquoise. A partial roof covers the hot pool, concession area and part of the patio. The rest is left open to the sun and sky. Two pools are available, a large 45'x120' pool (depth - a sloping 3 to 8 feet) with a temperature of around 100 degrees. The smaller 45'x30' hot pool receives water pumped in directly from the spring and is considerably warmer than the large pool. Water flows from the spring into the hot pool, then is pumped into the larger pool though atomizers cooling the water and creating the gentle spray seen on the right in the picture below.  Keough's is closed one day a week for cleaning. The pools are "continuous flow" so the water is not filtered, recycled or chlorinated. As a result, the pools are emptied and re-filled on a weekly basis.


 

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