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Our visit to the Jacumba hot springs

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Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel

Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel

Now that the weather is getting warmer, Jim and I decided to drive into the mountains on the US side of the border to have lunch at a beautiful town called Jacumba—only a 48 mile drive. This was our fourth trip to Jacumba. On our first trip we found the place on our way to San Diego, and we stayed overnight.

Jacumba is a great place. It used to be for fancy Hollywood people way back in the 1920’s and 1930’s, as it has hot springs.

It still has a beautiful hotel with two swimming pools. It’s run by a Swiss lady—who would have thought?

Jacumba is in a valley in the Jacumba Mountains at an altitude of 2,800 feet. It is on Old Highway 80. The new interstate 8 bypasses the town at a distance of two miles to the north. There is a turn-off from interstate 8, which takes you right into Jacumba.

The small town of Jacumba has a population of about 600 and is located right on the US-Mexico border. A small town, La Rumorosa, is on the Mexican side. People used to be able to walk across the border between the two towns, but the unmanned crossing was closed in 1995. The new, enlarged border fence now runs through the area.

Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel Pool

Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel Pool

Around the turn of the 20th century, the health and relaxation benefits Jacumba’s of natural hot springs were commercialized. The Jacumba hot spring is prolific and delivers enough water to fill large pools. The water contains sulfur which is great for the skin.

In 1919, rail service connected Jacumba to San Diego. By 1925 the town had a world class hotel, the Hotel Jacumba. In the 1930s, Jacumba had developed into a top destination and had a population of more than 5,000. Many of the foremost movie stars and celebrities of the day regarded Jacumba as a prime destination for relaxation.

Jacumba’s success continued through World War II; however as the southernmost California hot spring, it began to feel competition from more northern ones, including Palm Springs. After the new Interstate 8 bypassed Jacumba by two miles, most of the roadside service businesses folded and the community went into economic decline.

The old Jacumba Hotel closed and was destroyed by fire in 1983.

The Terrace

The Terrace

Now, the Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel is in operation. It was built in the 1980s, and is the only hotel facility left in Jacumba. It is a beautiful place with two pools, a sulfur hot tub, plenty of affordable rooms and high-speed Internet-the works. However, the area continues to attract primarily foreign visitors and the motel has acquired rights to the spring and opened a spa.

The chef is from Mexicali, and the food is great! If you just want to drink, you will find plenty of friendly folks at the bar.

If you want to relax and escape the summer heat, Jacumba is the place to go.

2 comments to Our visit to the Jacumba hot springs

  • Melanie David

    Hi MaryAnn, I’m looking forward to reading your next Tarlov post! I really enjoy your blog!
    best regards,
    Melanie David
    Culver City, Los Angeles

  • Jerry A

    My wife and I visit Jacumba, when we can. The sulfur really helps with my back pain!
    Jerry A
    Santa Fe, New Mexico

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