The town of Calistoga, at the north end of Napa Valley, offers some of the world's best mud bath spa experiences. The reason for their renowned reputation is the special mixture of mineral-rich mud found only in Calistoga, the long history of mud bath traditions dating back to the 19th century, and the modern spa luxuries found in Napa Valley.
Calistoga's mud is not your average mud. Emanating from the long-ago volcanic activity of nearby Mount St. Helena, the legendary mud combines mineral-rich volcanic ash with waters from natural, mineral hot springs. The resulting mixture – this magical mud – has been touted for its many nurturing benefits.
Ingredients & Benefits
Calistoga mud is made with volcanic ash powder mixed with naturally heated mineral water. The mixture is prepared in a large concrete tub, producing a warm, heavy mud. The minerals present in the mud, including sulfur, are thought to offer various benefits for the skin, such as hydrating the skin, reducing inflammation, promoting general relaxation, and more.
Depending on the spa you visit, you can either "paint" the mud on yourself or "bathe" in a mud bath. The mud bath tubs are heated from the bottom and you lie on top of a layer of mud. Spa attendants lather mud on top until you are covered to the neck. You will feel suspended and weightless, for a truly relaxing experience. After a short period of time, the mud is washed off. Many of the same spas offer a soak in hot springs and mineral pools to complete your therapeutic spa experience.
In the early 19th century, when Spanish explorers arrived in what is now Calistoga, they found indigenous tribes already making use of hot mineral springs. The A'shoichamai or Wappo villages contained sweat lodges, and people in these tribes also partook in hot mud bathing to eliminate toxins. This practice wasn’t much different from the mud baths of today.
Are mud baths sanitary? Yes, every treatment incorporates copious amounts of scalding hot mineral water, which effectively acts as a sanitizer. Specifically, the sulfur in mineral water mixed with the alkaline in volcanic ash kills all bacteria every time.
What kind of mud baths are there?
In Calistoga, there are two ways you can expect to get muddy:
Soak it in – bathe in a prepared tub already full of the good stuff and relax. After the restful soak, you’ll be helped out and given the opportunity to rinse and soak in a tub to remove any residual mud.
Paint it on – a few spas offer the opportunity to paint your body with mud. You’ll spend time relaxing and warming up in the soothing sun before rinsing off.
Where can I get a mud bath in Calistoga?
Here are some favorite Calistoga spas, with their featured mud treatments.
Golden Haven offers room and spa packages, as well as couples mud baths and girls’ getaway specials. Friends and couples can enjoy all the steps of the mud bath together in a private spa treatment room. The Couples and Friends Mud Bath experience includes the hot mud, a clay face mask and cold compress, a hot springs mineral bath, and a cool down flannel wrap. Combine a mud bath with a massage for the perfect Calistoga spa experience.
Make use of Spa Calistoga's four mineral pools for a relaxing spa experience. The Volcanic Ash Mud Bath includes traditional full immersion mud bath, mineral whirlpool bath with light therapy and aromatherapy bath salts, eucalyptus steam bath, and a cool down blanket wrap. Follow it with a relaxing 60 minute Swedish massage with "The Works" upgrade.
Roman Spa is one of the few spas offering private mudrooms for two, making it a perfect retreat for couples or a friends' getaway. The signature Calistoga mud bath experience ends in a mineral soak with a clay mud mask followed by a rejuvenating cool-down phase. The Mud-Water-Massage starts with a full-body mud bath, transitions into a mineral soak, then a serene cool-down in the relaxation chamber, and ends in a massage.
Indian Springs mines the volcanic ash on property, mixing it with mineral waters from their own geysers to create a classic mud bath treatment. The Indian Springs Mud Bath Ritual starts in the mud tub where you're covered from neck to toes with warm mud. After a rinse off in the shower, you'll soak in your own tub of pure Indian Springs mineral water. Spend some time in the infrared sauna, then get wrapped in a soft flannel blanket and left to nap and cool down. Complete your experience at the Buddha Pond for some further chill time.
Since 1952, Dr. Wilkinson's has been providing wellness and relaxation, and is one of the few properties to offer a private mud bath experience. The Mudslinger includes a mud bath treatment, mineral whirlpool bath treatment infused with sea salt epsom salts, a facial mask, geo-steam room, and a blanket wrap. Add a massage with The Works package for yourself or as a couple.
MoonAcre Spa offers a spin on the traditional mud bath. Visit the outdoor mud bar to paint the mud onto your own body for a fun DIY experience! Relax in the sun as the mud dries and enjoy the spa garden, then rinse under an outdoor rain shower. The Mud Bake, Bath & Massage starts with a salt soak in a clawfoot bathtub, includes the mud bar experience, and ends with a massage and steam.
Spa Solage infuses its mud with essential oils and is painted it on the body. The Solage Signature Mudslide is a modern twist on the traditional Calistoga mud bath in a unique three-part detoxifying treatment: "the mud", "the waters" and "the rest." The mud is customized with your choice of pure essential oils, the private soaking tubs featuring Solage's healing geo-thermal mineral waters, and state-of-the-art sound chairs provide the ultimate sensory experience promoting deep relaxation.
True Spa offers mud treatments in the form of body wraps, using Bentonite Clay, which is excellent for sensitive skin, has zero aroma, and contains natural anti-inflammatory properties. Once the mud is applied, your body is cocooned to stimulate warmth and increase mineral absorption. A foot and scalp massage deepens your relaxation.
Whatever you decide, rest assured knowing that with these muds, you will have a truly signature Calistoga experience. After all, Calistoga didn’t earn its reputation as the wellness capital of Napa Valley for nothing. Explore any of these detoxifying and incredibly relaxing mud experiences yourself and discover the magic secret of wellness – Calistoga style!