Sam’s Family Spa

You know when you hear a lot of rave reviews about a movie and you have high expectations and then you see it and wonder what the fuss is about? Well, that’s our experience with Sam’s Family Spa in Desert Hot Springs.

On Friday after work we drove an hour north west of where we were previously camping to Sam’s Family Spa in order to get closer to Brian’s brother’s house so we could hang out with his family this weekend.

We heard from 3 different sources that Sam’s Family Spa is the place to go in the area. It’s a quirky RV park with natural hot springs. We were even told “you can’t stay for just one night.” So we booked two, figuring the first night we’d arrive, relax and enjoy the hot springs and then on Saturday do chores before going to see Brian’s family.

Our arrival wasn’t great. The park doesn’t indicate where you should park your rig while you check in, so Brian pulled the trailer in front of the office out of the way of traffic. A pretty standard location for checking in.

Well, that ended up pointing us in the wrong direction towards the mobile home section of the park.

The guy in the office said we wouldn’t make the turn if we went all the way through the mobile home section, so we backed out into the main driveway and then turned left towards the RV section.

After we parked, we had a mediocre dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and returned to check out the famous hot springs.


It wasn’t a particularly inviting scene. There were florescent lights and pools full of people, but we figured we had to experience it so we got in the 2nd warmest pool (they gradually get hotter, up to 150 degrees) and did some people watching. We ended up talking to some interesting people, but overall it was just a so-so experience. The water was murky and the lighting was just weird. Maybe it would be better mid-week in the afternoon when the light is natural and the pools aren’t so crowded.

We spent $88 for the two nights and our nightly average is now a 95 cents higher than it was on Friday. But fear not, we don’t plan to pay for camping again until mid June.

2013 Cost of Camping:
16 nights paid camping
66 nights free camping
Total spent on camping this year: $495.75
Daily average cost of camping: $6.05

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  • Reply Van-Tramp March 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Ah, the lessons learned on the road. Better luck next time.

  • Reply Tim March 24, 2013 at 10:17 am

    We made the turn.

    • Reply Leigh March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am

      That’s funny. They should really post some signs.

      • Reply Cassie March 25, 2013 at 8:39 am

        Signs would be good – they certainly have plenty elsewhere. We did the same thing, and made the turn too (because no one warned us we couldn’t.). Sorry your experience was not good. For us, days in the hot springs (esp in the morning) and showers made up for some of the rest of it.

        • Reply Leigh March 25, 2013 at 9:16 am

          Oh it wasn’t that bad at all. It was more of a case of the movie analogy where everyone we talked to loved it and our expectations were really high.

          PLUS we’re really accustomed to boondocking now and I think we’re just put off by RV parks in general.

  • Reply amanda March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Yup, exactly how we felt upon arriving at Sam’s. It’s weird that there’s no place to park when you check in right? We did enjoy the hot springs, although we never saw more than a few other people in the pools at one time and usually went during the day. Our favorite was the outdoor pool, which again never had anyone else in it. Hope you have a nice family visit 🙂

    • Reply Leigh March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Yes!! I had a feeling the daytime experience is a lot better.

  • Reply terrie March 25, 2013 at 5:56 am

    love the big red NO sign….YES to boondocking!

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