Volcanic Ash Mud Baths a Mainstay at Dr. Wilkinson’s Back Yard Resort & Mineral Springs


The Calistoga, California mineral hot spring resort is as much a Napa Valley attraction as the famous grape growing region that surrounds it. Founded in 1952, Dr. Wilkinson’s Back Yard Resort & Mineral Springs signature hot spring mud baths remain a centerpiece treatment at the modern wellness resort.

Small town ambiance pervades the wine country town of Calistoga, California. The main street—Lincoln Avenue—is lined with buildings that date back to the 1900s and feature a sophisticated, yet friendly collection of art galleries, winery shops, bookstores and boutiques. Occupying one entire downtown block is Dr. Wilkinson’s Back Yard Resort & Mineral Springs. A retro neon sign advertises hot springs mud baths, mineral pools and accommodations. For more than 60 years visitors have come here to relax, heal and destress, many partaking in the very same treatment—the mud baths—that made the resort famous decades ago.

A Wellness Trendsetter

A chiropractor and early advocate of alternative methods of healing, the late John “Doc” Wilkinson and his wife Eddy opened Dr. Wilkinson’s in 1952. Native Americans were known to have historically soaked in the springs and use the naturally occurring volcanic ash of the area for health and healing purposes. Intrigued, the Wilkinsons experimented by adding organic Canadian peat moss to the mixture, which created the resort’s signature treatment.

The Original Mud Bath

The three elements—hot mineral water, volcanic ash and peat moss—work together for the quintessential mud bath experience that originated at Dr. Wilkinson’s Back Yard Resort & Mineral Springs. The hot spring water heats up both the peat and the ash. With the help of a spa attendant, guests are assisted into the mud-filled bathtubs. The peat, which is very soft, allows the body to feel as if it is floating; the volcanic ash extracts toxins while the overall heat works to improve blood flow throughout the body. While submersed, attendants apply a clay mask and cover the eyes with cucumber slices for an experience likened to a primordial recollection of floating in a womb. Lasting about 15 minutes, mud bath treatments are followed by a refreshing shower, hot springs soaking and steaming, as well as options to select from a comprehensive menu of spa treatments.

A Hot Springs Spa Retreat

Dr. Wilkinson’s is and always has been a place to relax. As such, it offers guests accommodations that include the use of the resort’s three mineral pools—two outdoor and one indoor—each a different temperature ranging from 70 to 105°F (21 – 40.5°C). Surrounded by palm trees and mature landscaping, overnight guests also have access to idyllic picnic areas with hammocks for a late afternoon snooze. A pet-friendly policy allows guests to further relax knowing their furry friends are nearby. Accommodations include a lodge with a mid-century modern aesthetic and a Victorian house that features five ornately decorated rooms. Lodging and spa specials and packages are also available.

Learn more and plan a visit to Dr. Wilkinson’s Back Yard Resort & Mineral Springs today, Calistoga’s landmark natural springs resort!

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