article & photos by Ree Slocum
It’s spring! What a great time to think about stepping out of winter’s hibernation to find something that’s revitalizing and renewing. Top of our list of recommendations— a personal retreat at Wilbur Hot Springs.
Wilbur is off the beaten path and located just inside Colusa County. It’s surrounded by trees and rolling hills, where different bird species are abundant during all seasons. Coyotes, bobcats, bears, and wild ponies roam nearby, and the loudest sounds you’ll hear will be running water and bird calls.
The resort is open year-round and has created an atmosphere where “You can sink into yourself and reconnect with what matters most.” I visited Wilbur with a friend to partake of the restorative experience. I found it to be every bit as wondrous as their website promises.
It all begins on a bumpy dirt road off Hwy 20, winding through the rolling tree-dotted hills, where slowing down is a must. The main gate to Wilbur is a few miles in. The delightful sight and sound of a river riffling over stone and wafts of sulfur greet you when opening and closing the main gate. You’ve begun your immersion into the Wilbur experience.
Not too far up the road is the heart of Wilbur. On the left, behind an attractive wooden privacy fence, are the central attractions: an open air bath house enclosing three flumes —long tiled channels—of ancient, ever-flowing, geothermal, mineral rich, and naturally hot water, unusual in North America. The waters are considered medicinal, healing a list of disorders and diseases. There’s an outdoor spring-fed swimming pool and a spacious sauna. Throughout are inviting areas for contemplation, reading, conversation, listening to the rushing stream, and enjoying the encircling sights and sounds of nature.
Across from the springs area is the finely arched lodge, built in 1915. It houses the reception area and gift store; a well-appointed communal kitchen; large main room for dining, lounging, billiards; and a music area sporting a variety of quality instruments. There’s impressive original art throughout with a wide veranda, completing indoor options for conversation or quiet space.
Up the hill beyond the lodge and past the managers’ office is the “Solar Lodge,” with group and private sleeping rooms. There are also sets of tandem cabins down the hill, perfect for couples. To round off the options, there are tent platforms for campers wanting to sleep under millions of stars and hear Wilbur’s nightly sounds, as well as day use.
Wilbur Resort and Sanctuary is infused with kindness that ripples out from the owner, Dr. Richard Miller, the managers, Brennan and Jerry Newberry, and continues through the staff onward to guests. One can feel a sense of comfort, respect, and well-being during their stay at the clothing-optional resort.
In a phone conversation with Dr. Miller, he told me the medicinal effects of the main healing constituents of Wilbur’s ancient waters. He explained that sulphur is an original antibiotic which cleanses the pores and heals infections; lithium adds the advantage of relaxation and stress relief; and magnesium is a tonic for the digestive system. In the hottest flume, I experienced the silkiness from minerals on my skin and a deep relaxation and sense of well-being that expanded throughout the day.
The forward-thinking Dr. Miller, who bought the hot springs in 1972, sees himself more as a steward of the land than an owner. In 1999, he bought and designated the adjoining 1560 acres as a Nature Preserve. This limits development in perpetuity. Here you’ll find a sanctuary to walk, hike, or bike to The Bat Cave, The Wishing Tree, or other contemplative sites to experience and explore.
If you’d like to truly pamper yourself, Wilbur offers Guest Chef Weekends once a month, September through May. They close the kitchen to guests as the chefs prepare all meals from Friday night through Sunday Brunch. The chefs provide local, in season, and organic ingredients when available. Check the website for the 2019 calendar and scrumptious sample menus.
At Wilbur there’s also the promise of not hearing any rings, beeps, or blings from electronic devices. It’s delightfully off the grid and out of cell reception. As the manager, Brennan, shares, “When we leave Wilbur and get close to Williams, all of a sudden our cell phones are beeping and buzzing with a week’s worth of messages from family and friends!”
Dr. Miller left me with this thought, “The busier, more congested and electrified the world gets, the more important it is to have health sanctuaries to unplug and restore our health.” He and his staff have created a glorious sanctuary in which to do that, close by in Lake County.
Wilbur Hot Springs
3375 Wilbur Springs Road, Wilbur Springs, CA
www.wilburhotsprings.com | (530) 473-2306
Ree Slocum is a fine art freelance photographer and writer who calls the wilds of Mendocino County “home.” Ree can be reached at reeslocumphotography com.It’s Spring! What a great time to think about stepping out of Winter’s hibernation and find something that’s revital- izing and renewing. Top of our list of recommendations—a personal retreat at Wilbur Hot Springs.