No trip to Napa is complete without a volcanic ash mudbath.
The fact that I love mud baths is surprising. I hate nudity (especially my own) and I’m not good at relaxing.
Last year, when I told my friend Sarah, that I was going to Napa, she noted, “Be sure you stop by Calistoga for a mud bath. They’re wonderful.” When she mentioned this, I had no idea what she was talking about.
Still, I take her recommendations very seriously. If she suggested it, we needed to try it.
When we drove through the adorable town of Calistoga, I was immediately enchanted. We pulled up to the Indian Springs Resort and I was even more intrigued. The place looked (to me anyway) like a luxury motor lodge.
In the front of the building, a very welcoming gratitude tree was out front. The tree had hanging tags, pens and pencils for you to write what you were grateful for and then attach it to a branch. I loved the tree so much, that I am thinking about buying a little tree and making my family attach a tag to it each week.
Stepping inside the spa, you enter a small waiting room. You check in, pay and are given a locker. After you undress and slip on a robe an attendant takes you to the showers.
Every Hollywood prison scene ever created comes to mind in that shower. I’ve never been in prison but I assume it’s similar. The tiles are cold. The shower is cold. And as you stand in the shower you see other naked women getting covered with mud and sweating.
I’m undecided as to whether this is good or bad, but as you stand there naked and showering, you can see the attendant cleaning the bath before you get in. Yes, before you get in, the attendant “sanitizes” the mud between guests. What does that mean? Well obviously, it’s mud, so it’s not exactly clean to begin with. However, the mud is sanitized between guests. The spa attendant floods the bath with crazy hot mineral water, drains the tub and then cools the bath before you get in.
But wait. It gets better. After the mud has been cleaned, you have to race your naked behind over to the freshly sanitized mud. I, of course, stupidly thought that using sheer cannonball force would allow me to sink inside the mud, negating the number of minutes I would have to be naked in front of others.
Surprise! That’s not how it works.
Turns out, the mud is dense and your body just sits on top if it. The attendant has to scoop the mud on top of you and cover you up.
The mud is also hot like Hades.
Thus, you need to stay in the mud for 12 minutes lest you be naked again.
Once you are submerged it’s very relaxing.
After 12 minutes in the mud, your attendant assists you (pulls you out) and helps you get in another shower. Since mud is everywhere (cracks of ears, fingers, toes, eyelids, etc., you’ll be a few minutes.
Afterwards, you are taken to a claw foot tub full of warm mineral water. There, you soak. Then you head off to the steam room. And finally, you are wrapped burrito style, and taken to a room to lay down.
It’s so relaxing. Normally, I fall asleep.
Afterwards, you can get a massage, go sit by the pool or hang at the Buddha pond.
For thousands of years people have considered mud baths healing and soothing. I’m not sure that there’s a lot of scientific proof that mud baths have legitimate health benefits—but I can say, as someone who is horrible at relaxing and hates being naked, it is relaxing and soothing. After lots of driving and wine tasting, it’s a great way relax your muscles and detox. It leaves your skin very soft, and smooth. While I wouldn’t recommend it for someone with heart problems (sorry, dad! it’s too hot!), I do think it’s a wonderful way to end your trip to Napa before returning to the real world!