Wilbur Hot Springs

Wilbur Hot Springs is a naturally occurring historic hot spring, health sanctuary, personal retreat and 1,800-acre (7.3 km2) nature reserve in Williams, Colusa County, in northern California, United States, about 2 hours northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area and 1½ hours north of the Sacramento Airport.

Wilbur Springs CA 3604
The front of the lodge


Wilbur Hot Springs come from the ground near Bear Creek.[1] The temperature of the springs ranges from 140 degrees[2] to 152 °F (67 °C),[3] and has a flow rate of about 30 gallons per minute. It is part of the Western US, Baja, and British Columbia Hot Springs networks,[4] with its elevation within Colusa County at 1,400 feet (430 m) [5]

  • Location: near Clear Lake
  • Temperature: 152 °F (67 °C)
  • Flow: 30 gpm (114 L/min)
  • Capacity: 0.6×106 Btu/hr / 0.2 MWt
  • Annual Energy: 4.7×109 Btu/yr / 1.4 GWh/yr
  • Load Factor: 0.89
  • Delta T: 40 °F (4 °C)


Wilbur Hot Springs’ history goes back centuries. Before European settlers came, the springs were used by the Patwin, Pomo, Wintun and Colusi – Native American inhabitants of Northern California’s Coast Range mountains.[6] According to local lore, wealthy social activist and congressman General John Bidwell [7] was searching for gold in 1863 when one of his men got deathly sick. Local Native Americans told him about powerful waters, later to be known as Wilbur Hot Springs. Bidwell brought his man to the waters where he was miraculously cured. General John Bidwell went back to San Francisco and Chico (where he owned the best known farm in California) and spread the word of these healing waters.

Throughout America in the late 19th century, hot springs became very popular among those who could afford to stay at fashionable hot springs resorts – and to get there in the first place. Often the journeys were long and arduous – and getting to the Colusa County hot springs, soon to be as renowned as Germany’s Baden-Baden spas, was no exception.[8]

However, European settlers became attracted to the Wilbur Hot Springs area because of minerals – not in the water, but in the ground – first, copper and sulfur, then gold. In 1863, Ezekial Wilbur and Edwin Howell purchased a 640-acre (2.6 km2) ranch for $1,500. Formed to mine copper along Sulphur Creek, their partnership was soon disbanded when copper ore proved difficult to treat and decreased in value. Within eight months, Wilbur purchased Howell’s share of the property for $200, built a wood-frame hotel and announced the opening of ‘Wilbur Hot Sulphur Springs’ in 1865.

Later that year, Wilbur Hot Sulphur Springs was sold to Marcus Marcuse of Marysville. Meanwhile, the reputation of the “miraculous cures” of Sulphur Creek continued to grow. By the 1880s, the European-style health resort built beside the hot springs reached its heyday: Wilbur Springs was known for its scalding hot water springs – “unexcelled for certain diseases” – that boiled up over an area of 100 square feet (9.3 m2). To get there, guests would travel on the Southern Pacific Railroad to Williams, then travel 22 miles (35 km) to the springs, a four-hour trip by stagecoach.

By 1891, however, Wilbur’s fortunes were in decline due to an absentee owner and a better property at Sulphur Creek Village. A mile down the road, Sulphur Creek featured a resort and mining village – this time for gold. With its ramshackle bathhouses and neglected cabins, there was “no hotel worthy of the name” at Wilbur. In 1909, the place became a U.S. Post Office [9] (in service until 1945) and was used as a way station for the local stagecoach. In 1915, the decrepit cabins were razed and Wilbur’s then-owner, J. W. Cuthbert, built the existing concrete hotel, which was one of the first poured concrete buildings in California. Through the decades, the property continued to change hands, first to the Barker family (supposedly of Ma and Pa Barker fame) and then to the Sutcliff family.

Modern establishment

In the 1970s, Dr. Richard Louis Miller became associated with Wilbur. Dr. Miller was a San Francisco psychologist who had left teaching at the University of Michigan in order to study in California with Virginia Satir, the founder of family therapy, and with Fritz Perls, the originator of Gestalt Therapy. Since the late 1960s, Miller had operated a clinic in San Francisco known as the Gestalt Institute for Multiple Psychotherapy. Wanting to relocate his practice to the country to develop a conscious-raising community, he believed intensive psychotherapy in a residential setting would be more effective than short, timed sessions.

In 1972, Miller came across Wilbur Hot Springs, which was in terrible shape, badly vandalized and littered with junk. Rusting vehicles and dilapidated buildings were scattered around the property, including the decrepit 20-room bathhouse; and literally tons of old wood, broken glass, burned mattresses and couches, old toilets and other junk littered the land.

Miller rented the “Red House” next door to the hotel and began to live at Wilbur on weekends, where he later rented the hotel for psychology seminars. To address the Herculean task of cleaning up the property, Miller led free Esalen workshops in exchange for two hours’ work per day. The barter system proved effective in cleaning the hotel area so that it could then be fully restored. In addition, the hotel was enlarged with a second floor bunkhouse and a new third floor. Later, an eight-suite passive solar lodge was built into the hill above the hotel.

Miller’s relationship with Wilbur was about to become more permanent: after the Sheriff nailed a foreclosure notice on the front door, Miller attended the foreclosure auction and won the bid for the property. Soon after, Miller and his wife moved to Wilbur full-time, where they lived for seven years. Their daughter Sarana, born at Wilbur in 1975, is now an occasional yoga instructor at the hotel.

Miller opened the historic Hot Springs to the public in 1974. Some years later, he implemented his desire of working with patients in the country. In 1981, he started Cokenders Alcohol and Drug program, closing the hotel for one week a month to hold this pioneering, non-institutional treatment program. There at Wilbur until 1990, Dr. Miller detoxified 1,500 seriously addicted, chemically dependent patients using the hot springs’ waters and natural ambiance as healing detoxifying agents – and not one patient required medication or hospitalization during their treatment.[10]

In 1999 Dr. Miller bought the adjoining valley consisting of 1,560 acres (6.3 km2), which had been used for hunting. He placed a conservation easement on the property, thereby limiting development in perpetuity. As a result, Wilbur Hot Springs now has its own nature preserve.[11]

Many consider the hot springs a "place to slow down",[12] but it integrates a series of different routines [13] that allows you to create your own experience, no matter what it may be. Renowned for being a place that is about peace and quiet,[14] it is the community of shared experiences that really bring it together. From a shared kitchen [15] to the clothing optional Fluminariums, it is very much a shared experience in modesty and self-respect. From the historic turn of the 20th century hotel to campsites on the nature preserve,[16] the hot springs are available to everyone from every walk of life for healing and rejuventation.

In March 2014, the main hotel was severely damaged by fire.[17] The resort was temporarily closed for repairs.


The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Csa". (Mediterranean Climate).[18]

See also


  1. ^ "Bear Creek, CA near Wilbur Hot Springs to Cache Creek Conf". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  2. ^ "140degrees" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  3. ^ "152degrees". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  4. ^ http://members.peak.org/~skinncr/hotsprings/index.html%7Ctitle=Hot Spring Networks |accessdate=2009-05-12
  5. ^ "wilbur hot springs - Google Maps". Retrieved 2009-12-16.
  6. ^ Wilbur Springs History. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  7. ^ "JohnBidwell". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  8. ^ "Bay Area Health". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  9. ^ Trucco, Terry (1994-06-26). "NYTimes on Hot Springs". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  10. ^ Teachings of Dr. Miller.
  11. ^ "WIEH". Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  12. ^ "BPN". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  13. ^ Zuckerman, Sam (2007-04-22). "Chronicle Springs article". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  14. ^ "Hot Springs for Health". Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  15. ^ Lucas, Eric (2008-12-02). "LA Times Hot Springs article". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ soakersbible.com
  17. ^ Carolyn Jones (March 31, 2014). "Wilbur Hot Springs historic lodge hit by fire". San Francisco Chronicle.
  18. ^ Climate Summary for Williams, CA
  19. ^ "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013. Retrieved on June 27, 2013.

External links

Coordinates: 39°2′19″N 122°25′15″W / 39.03861°N 122.42083°W

List of hot springs

There are hot springs on all continents and in many countries around the world. Countries that are renowned for their hot springs include Honduras, Canada, Chile, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Fiji and the United States, but there are interesting and unique hot springs in many other places as well.

Nature reserve

A nature reserve (also known as natural reserve, bioreserve, natural/nature preserve, or natural/nature conserve) is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research. Nature reserves may be designated by government institutions in some countries, or by private landowners, such as charities and research institutions, regardless of nationality. Nature reserves fall into different IUCN categories depending on the level of protection afforded by local laws. Normally it is more strictly protected than a nature park.

Paul Frederick Rest

Paul Frederick Rest (born November 22) is an author, artist and martial artist. He was born in Dayton, Ohio and currently lives in Santa Rosa, California. He attended Indiana State University and McCormick Theological Seminary before leaving for California in 1969. He was had articles, essays, poetry, book reviews, short stories and interviews published in the United States, Canada, South America and the U.K. Until the publication closed in 2016, he wrote over 300 articles for the on-line magazine examiner.com about martial arts.

The publications he has written for include (not a complete list) the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Creation Quarterly, San Francisco Zen Center's publication "Sangha News," BuJin Design Newsletter (an on-line publication), AHP Perspective, Aiki Extensions Newsletter, Martial Edge (UK), The Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Indiana State University Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, Westways Magazine (an AAA publication), The Oregonian (Northwest Magazine), litrasfalsas (Columbia, SA), Mothering Magazine, Baby Talk, The Liturgical Press and Wilbur Hot Springs Newsletter.

Rest studied Soto Zen Buddhism under Richard Baker Roshi at the San Francisco Zen Center during the 1970s. He later worked with a group of experimental researchers in the field of Intuitive Research that included Ann Armstrong. In 1993 Rest began practicing Aikido and has continued his practice and study. In October 2015, he was awarded the rank of 4th dan (black belt), He has studied with many of the surviving direct students of O Sensei, the Founder of Aikido including Hiroshi Kato, Shihan/8th Dan; Mitsugi Saotome, Shihan/8th dan; Robert Nadeau, Shihan/7th dan; Frank Doran, Shiham, 7th dan; Robert Frager, 7th dan. He has also taken a workshop with the Founder's grandson, the current Doshu of Aikido, Moriteru Ueshiba. His currently attends classes with Richard Strozzi-Heckler, 6th dan, and Robert Noha, 6th dan. He is a student of John Stevens, Shihan/7th dan, and a member of Stevens' Classical Aikido Association.

He has pioneered a no rolling/no-falling Aikido called "Low Impact Aikido." This type of Aikido is currently being used with veterans suffering from post traumatic issues, children with learning issues, senior citizens and is being explored in a variety of other ways this approach to Aikido can be used. In addition, it is being used for corporation and management training to instill trust, team work and communication by corporations, business groups and non-profit organizations.

He has also supported the work of Aiki Extensions, an organization created by Professor Don Levine to promote contact and harmony among aikidoka in the Middle East and North Africa. Rest is a member and presented a session on low Impact Aikido at the recent Aiki Extensions workshop in Palo Alto, California (September 2016). He has also written extensively about the work of Aiki Extensions in Ethiopia, the Training Across Borders (TAB), Peace Camp and The Aikido Ethiopia Project and the Hawassa Peace Dojo (in Awassa).

Rest has worked with other authors assisting them with their titles. This include George Leonard ("The Silent Pulse"), Wendy Palmer ("The Intuitive Body"), Sara Andrews ("Earth Colors" and Ray Anderson ("The Lotus Cross").

Rest's LLC (PFRArts LLC) has published "Aikido: An Everyday Approach to the Martial Art That Can Transform Your Life & The World.

" It is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and through local independent booksellers. A Kindle version is available on Amazon. His second book on Low Impact Aikido is expected to be published next year. Two other publications in different areas are scheduled to be released soon.

Richard Louis Miller

Richard Louis Miller is an American Clinical Psychologist, owner of Wilbur Hot Springs Health Sanctuary, and broadcaster who hosts the Mind Body Health & Politics radio program, a syndicated radio talk show which airs on NPR affiliate KZYX&Z FM & www.KZYX.org.

Williams, California

Williams (formerly Central) is a city in Colusa County, California, United States. The population was 5,123 at the 2010 census, up from 3,670 at the 2000 census.

Climate data for Williams
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 12
Average low °C (°F) −1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 79
Average precipitation days 8 7 7 4 2 1 0 0 1 3 6 8 47
Source: Weatherbase [19]

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