Located in the heart of Sonoma, in a place known as the Valley of the Moon, this diverse and wondrous geothermal springs sanctuary is the last of its kind. Bordering Sonoma Creek and nestled among a mature canopy of large oaks with open meadows and rolling hills, these Springs uplift the very best of whole family wellness and recreation. People have come to these Springs for generations to soak in the healing waters and to gather for picnics and reunions, retreats and organizational meetings, birthdays and weddings, and for nature-based youth camps and field trips. The temperature on all three pools range from 85° F to 94° F, depending on weather (we shoot for cooler on hot days and warmer on cooler days). Come and experience the magic of the Springs for yourself.
Individual, Family and Group Gatherings
This property is an ideal setting for organizational or family daylong outdoor retreats and recreation. Rejuvenate in one of the three geothermal mineral spring pools, relax under the oak canopy, and picnic on the grassy hills. One spring-fed pool is between 4.5 and 9ft deep (our Diving Pool) and the other is 2.5 to 5 ft deep (our Family Pool). There is also a geothermal wading pool for infants and toddlers. Walk along the natural paths and winding creek to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this historical gathering place. Woven throughout the resort are a number of sites designed to accommodate up to 400 people.
• Two Geothermal Mineral Swimming Pools + Wading Pool • Geothermal Showers & Changing Rooms
• Organic Cafe • Creekside Picnic and BBQ Sites • Easy Access to Sonoma Creek
Whether guests come to swim in one of our mineral pools, host a corporate picnic, company meeting, host a family reunion, birthday party, or wedding, we promise to make it an experience to remember.
Also, please note that our very own Cafe 108° is open on some days with drinks and soft serve only and on others with a full menu (see CAFE 108° SCHEDULE). So on days the cafe is not open with a full menu, please remember to bring picnic food with you to BBQ and enjoy during your time here! Outside food is always welcomed.
History of the Springs
Morton’s Warm Springs Resort is a property rich in beauty, history, and tradition. The healing properties of the geothermal mineral springs here have been recognized for centuries and we consider these abundant waters sacred.
The known story of the Springs goes back to the First Nations people of these lands– the Wappo, Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok. For 10,000 years, these particular Indigenous peoples lived peaceably and sustainably with each other and with nature stewarding all of the lands that now make up Napa and Sonoma County. They had rich and deep traditions in how they related to the land and her waters–especially when it came to the natural geothermal springs that dotted our valley. Tribal peoples would regularly come to camp, trade, work with traditional foods and medicines, meet in ceremony and host celebrations near to the Springs. Even though many arrowheads and artifacts have been found in this area over the last century, unfortunately, almost all of these were taken home by private collectors and hobbyists and almost none are to be found here today (we strongly encourage those who have any arrowheads or artifacts collected from this area or being handed down in their families to consider participatory rematriation of these artifacts to the Indigenous peoples to which they belong).
In the 1800’s, during the chapter of Mexican-Spanish colonialism, these Springs came to be known by the name Los Guilicos after Rancho Los Guilicos, the Spanish Land Grant of the larger area. This Rancho was itself named after the nearby Wappo village called Wilikos which sat along the headwaters of Sonoma Creek in what is now Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
These Springs were then reportedly the first geothermal springs in the area to be further developed as the next layers of white Euro-descended settlers came to camp here in tents and take in the healing waters. In the 1880’s the first rustic “bath house” was established with a rock-enclosed creekside “swimming tank.” Today, we can still see the original stone work of these pools, which were much closer down and nearer to the Sonoma Creek than the current pools built above them that we swim in today. As a small summer vacation neighborhood sprang up around it, the ample spring water was later pumped and piped to the various surrounding cottages for drinking water and as a fire prevention strategy. That infrastructure remains today in what is now one of the smallest, private water utility companies in the state of California, Sonoma Springs Water Company, which still serves 21 hyper-local residences.
In 1909, a small lodge, cabins and a grand ‘Harmonic Music Pavilion’ was built at Los Guilicos Warm Springs to accommodate overnight stays and summer-long retreats for those escaping the bustling city life of San Francisco and Oakland. People would usually arrive by train to the Kenwood Depot and then take a short dusty trip down the road less than a mile to arrive at the Springs. Back then the resort consisted of roughly 100 acres and encompassed much of upper Warm Springs Road canyon. Sadly there are no known remains of the grand Harmonic Music Pavilion, nor have any records yet been found as to the exact location where it once stood. We can, however, see a wonderful artist’s rendition of it in a turn-of-the-century flyer advertising the resort (see image below).
The property was purchased in 1946 by Ethel and Harold Morton, and after about five years, they began operating it as Morton’s Warm Springs, the name it bears today. By the time the Morton’s owned the Springs, most of the original cabins and the Pavilion had been dismantled, destroyed or sold off separately. They were the ones who build the current pool house and structures that you see today. They also raised their five children here on the land and became very successful at popularizing the resort throughout all of the San Francisco Bay Area as a family-centered summertime destination for gatherings, picnics, barbecues, recreation, and of course swimming in the naturally heated geothermal pools. For many decades the Springs enjoyed a heyday of “classic Americana,” the best of what middle-class life in Sonoma Valley had to offer.
The Morton family finally sold the property around 1980. Since then, the Springs have been passed down through a series of erstwhile owners, each of whom has tried to reimagine it during shifting social and economic times and many transformations witnessed in our Sonoma Valley communities. Each successive owner had strong visions of how to reinvent this grand beauty–many drew up big plans and tried various things to expand its use and season, but critically they did so without first garnering essential neighborhood support or prior county approval.
In the year 2000, due to the trespasses of a very contentious era here in the late 90’s, where the Springs became known for raucous parties and the owners for their total lack of neighborly regard, the neighborhood sought out a county resolution to powerfully curtail the allowable activities or “uses” here at the Springs to a simplified version of its basic 1950’s and 60’s business model. This resolution, unfortunately, also made it impossible to build any new structures or features without first updating the use–these days an ever-increasingly lengthy and expensive process. So, like the bygone era it often evokes, the Springs have been frozen in time for the past few decades in a snap shot from its mid-century chapter while its also remained somewhat protected from potentially poorly thought through redevelopment.
A New Era for the Springs
Over the generations these healing mineral springs have come to fill a very special place in the lives and hearts of this community. Many love Morton’s as a time-honored tradition and a tranquil and affordable place to enjoy the Sonoma summertime outdoors. But what does this place have to say? What might it want to become, in better harmony and in service to the needs of our surrounding communities?
In January of 2016, Morton’s was purchased by a small group of family and friends, many of whom hail from Sonoma County or have once called this valley home. As the current stewards of this incredible place, along with its hundreds if not thousands of years of history, we take our responsibility to restore and protect the springs very seriously. To that end we are working towards slowly reestablishing the Springs as a center for multigenerational community life, wellness and local resiliency, as well as a model for regenerative ecological stewardship and watershed restoration. We bow in humble honoring and respect of the First Nations peoples who knew and tended these wilds and waters so well. We have much to learn from them. Anchored in and supported by the community which surrounds us, our aim is to continue to revitalize and protect these precious geothermal waters bubbling from the earth for their pure and original purpose–to gather the community and to heal.