Remember when a hot stone massage was all the rage? While many wellness seekers continue to enjoy the added benefit of heated stones incorporated into a massage, today there are even more options on and off the massage table. Calistoga is well-known for some of the world’s top wineries, but originally, it was all about mud.
Ten thousand years ago, the Wappo tribe migrated from Russia in search of a place to live near water, with fertile ground and mountains to provide protection from harsh weather. Arriving in the territory that came to be named Calistoga, the Wappo found a land full of wild brush, with hot steam emerging from the ground due to geothermal springs. The Wappo soon discovered that the natural mineral springs and mud was therapeutic, and so they built huts around them for ceremonial use; one for men and another for women (considered “impure” once they reached their teens). The springs and mud were believed to be a gift from the gods to be utilized as a cleansing experience for both body and spirit. Once the mud was applied and caked on their bodies, it would be rinsed in the cooler mineral springs.
The mud itself evolved from a volcanic eruption three million years earlier, when lava exploded and a burst of red-hot ash created what is known today in Calistoga as the Petrified Forest. When mixed with geothermal mineral water, this ash, found throughout Calistoga to this day, creates a delightfully detoxifying mud.
Fast forward to the 1860s, when California’s first millionaire, Samuel Brannan, founded the town of Calistoga and opened a hot springs resort, catering to leisure time desires of the country’s rich and famous. Here are 5 properties to experience wellness during your visit to Calistoga.
- In operation since 1861, Indian Springs Resort is the town’s oldest hot springs resort. The property has retained its mission of providing respite, complete with quiet, palm-tree’d grounds, the sight and sound of hot geysers, and a Buddha pond. Its large outdoor mineral pool is the heart and soul of this lushly landscaped resort and is the best place to relax and rejuvenate pre- or post-spa treatments. The mud baths here are considered 100 percent authentic; volcanic ash is mixed with peat moss and geothermal water poured in six-foot stucco “bath” tubs. First, one sinks deep into the thick mud, followed by a shower and a soak in a mineral springs filled bathtub.
- Euro Spa offers a Far Infrared UV Sauna. Unlike the traditional sauna which uses convection heat to warm an enclosed room (sauna), Infrared UV Sauna uses radiant heat that absorbs directly into your body. This transferred energy reaches deep tissues and allows a release of tension from your muscles and toxins from your skin. The Far Infrared UV Sauna also offers a number of health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and weight loss.
- On the opposite end of the temperature spectrum, Calistoga Cyro has introduced a new technique to Calistoga: cryotherapy. Once inside a stand-up pod, you’re introduced to temperatures as low as negative 202 degrees Fahrenheit for a mere three minutes; that is…if you can handle the cold. But, don’t worry, they won’t freeze you. In fact, cyrotherapy aids health in a variety of ways — pain relief, tissue repair, energy boost, increase in metabolism, better sleep, etc. Many athletes use this form of therapy in place of ice baths. One might even say the benefits of three minutes in the cold are ‘ice’tronomical.
- Spa Solage offers a unique 90-minute wellness experience with Robert Lane, a Deepak Chopra-trained floating meditation leader. Aqua Vibrations is offered early mornings in the hot springs mineral pool. On a float with the hot springs water below, and the comfort of the warm, wet towels on top, the sensation is meant to replicate the feel of a womb or cocoon. Robert serenades with a symphony of sounds made by swirling and submerging quartz “singing bowls” into the water. The color of each bowl and its melody corresponded with various chakra colors. Solage also offers a version of a mud bath called a “mudslide”. The process begins at the spa bar, where you select one or several aromatherapy oils, which are then mixed in a bowl with volcanic ash and geothermal water. The bowl is brought to a private room where you and a partner are generously slathered before lying on a hard slab to allow the mud to dry and detoxify you. A gentle tap on the door signifies that the time has come to head to the private outdoor shower for a rinse; then you are escorted to a bungalow where a luxurious mineral bath awaits. But it doesn’t end there … you next transfer to a second bungalow to zone out with soothing music played through headphones while you lounge in a zero-gravity chair.
- Calistoga Ranch caters to celebrities and high-profile visitors who seek the ultimate in privacy. Each of its rustic yet luxurious lodges were literally helicoptered into the forest nearby in order to protect the environment and provide an unparalleled indoor-outdoor living concept. At the ranch’s spa, The Calistoga Cure is the latest treatment offered to invigorate and exfoliate. A therapeutic body scrub is followed by a private outdoor mud or mineral salt bath. Next comes an energy balance session, finished with a classic massage. Stress doesn’t stand a chance. Water Therapy is also available with a trained Aquatic Therapist who gently guides you in a warm mineral pool with movement, rocking and stretching.
Founded 140 years ago as a resort for newly affluent Americans, Calistoga has evolved into a welcoming town for any and all visitors who crave the healing power of warm water and mud. And, with more than 50 world class wineries right up the road, this tiny Napa Valley spot offers a chance to de-tox before you re-tox. A week here is guaranteed to promote the ultimate feeling of wellbeing.
This is Calistoga wellness.