Calistoga, California in Napa County is known for its vineyards and wineries, laid-back charm and... mud. Warm, gooey, mineral-rich mud. Several of its spa resorts welcome guests to partially submerse themselves in the organic substance comprised of volcanic ash, spring water, peat and a variety of minerals.
Heated by the area's hot springs, the mud is typically in the 100-104 degree range. And you won't sink to the bottom if you descend into a mud-filled tub; the peat will help you to stay buoyant. Contrary to what else you might think, mud baths can help you get clean by drawing out dirt and oil from skin (as long as you shower afterwards!). Believers also credit them for easing pain in the joints and muscles.
Note: Be sure to be well-hydrated before you step into a mud bath. Also, they have a distinctive sulphuric odor that not everyone tolerates.
Offering a 60-minute Couples Mud Bath experience, Golden Haven features a tub for two. Designed for couples, you could certainly bring your mother, rather than your significant other, as a Mother's Day treat.
To keep you both comfortable during the 10-minute mud soak, an attendant leads you through the process and offers a facial mask made with clay as well as a cold compress for your forehead.
Afterwards, shower off mud together in the spa's hot springs water then soak together in a private Jacuzzi for another 10 minutes. At this stage, you'll probably feel like a couple of limp noodles. A half-hour aromatherapy wrap follows to gently cool you down; it's okay to fall sleep. You'll wake up feeling and smelling wonderful. Some visitors opt to follow the mud bath with a massage.
The Couples Mud Bath costs around $75 weekdays and is about ten dollars more on weekends.
The most upscale of the Calistoga properties offering mud bath treatments, Solage Calistoga maintains a Bath House and Mud Bar where couples can revel in the gooey stuff during its signature Mudslide Treatment. The latter, touted as a three-part detoxifying treatment — “the mud,” “the waters” and “the rest" — can be experienced in private. The mud is customized with a guest's choice of essential oils. "The rest" is taken in a sound chair; whether or not you buy into the idea of "healing vibrations," it's a unique experience.
For more than a century, health-seekers have made their way to Indian Springs for the waters. It's definitely retro, but that -- and the historic Sam's Cottage, adults-only pool and Buddha Pond within the spa — are what most visitors appreciate. The staff sterilizes mud between each user and keeps those younger from 16 out of it. An attendant guides users into the tub for 10 minutes and makes sure they're covered in the volcanic mud from neck to toe.
While the emphasis here is on individuals rather than couples, the routine is the same: Warm mud bath, whirlpool after washing, a steam bath and wrapping you up like a human burrito so that you can gently cool down. Calistoga Spa Hot Springs also offers an extensive massage and reflexology menu as an add-on to mud baths. And it features a large pool with a wading area as well as lanes for lap swimmers.
Funkiest of the lot, Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort offers couples a private room to get gooey. Clothing is not just optional; for a peak experience, wear nothing but your birthday suit. If you're not wild about mucking in the mud, you can go straight to the warm mineral bath and follow it with a trip to the cool-down room. Some guest rooms feature a hot tub that fills with mineral water from the resort's own source.
Founded in 1952, Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort remains a family-run operation, managed today by the Doc's children. The mud-shower-mineral bath-cool down rigamarole is followed here with the addition of a mud masque for your face and citrus water to refresh. Note that many visitors found the spa and guest rooms too bare bones for their tastes and the smell of the mud baths were particularly overwhelming.