US Forest Service Shuts Down Top Tourist Spot 'Indefinitely' After Second Body Found

US Forest Service Shuts Down Top Tourist Spot 'Indefinitely' After Second Body Found

Two deaths within approximately 16 months have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to close Miracle Hot Springs along the Kern River in California’s Sequoia National Forest.

In a news release on Monday, the Forest Service declared the closure, referring to bodies discovered on Feb. 17 of this year and Oct. 17, 2022. The names and causes of death were not disclosed.

The Forest Service stated that the area would remain closed "unless a sustainable long-term solution is reached," interpreted by the Los Angeles Times as implying an indefinite closure.

For years, visitors have enjoyed the "warm, mineral-enhanced waters" at Miracle Hot Springs, known for its mineral-rich content including sulfur, magnesium, calcium, chloride, iron, and sodium, according to the Miracle Hot Springs Conservancy. The conservancy aims to support the maintenance of the area, which it describes on its website as currently "destroyed."

Some of the rock and mortar tubs at the site suffered damage in 2020. Discussions were initiated on repairing and maintaining them, but the situation took a turn with the death in 2022. In response, the Forest Service opted to dismantle the tubs, as reported by the Times.

Despite these actions, some individuals continued to visit the site, and a few attempted to rebuild some of the tubs. Flooding along the Kern River submerged the tubs entirely in the past year. However, the area became accessible again as floodwaters receded.

Hal Chiprin, a volunteer with the Hot Springs Angels, revealed ongoing conversations with the Forest Service. The group aims to work towards reopening the hot springs and implementing more effective patrols to address safety concerns, as reported by the Times.

The Forest Service's news release is provided in its entirety below, with slight formatting changes:

Due to public health and safety concerns, Miracle Hot Springs will be closed indefinitely.

After the 2023 winter and spring flooding on the Kern River, Miracle Hot Springs was under the high-water mark and inaccessible. Since river levels have dropped, the previously removed tub area was exposed again.

On Saturday, February 17, 2024, a deceased individual was found in one of the Miracle Hot Springs tubs. Previously, on October 17, 2022, a deceased individual was also found in the same area.

“Public safety is of utmost importance to Forest Service officials. With a second death that can be attributed in part to the hot springs, the area will remain closed until a sustainable long-term solution is reached,” says District Ranger Al Watson.

An area closure order will be in place soon prohibiting access to the hot springs, tubs, and general vicinity.

Sandy Flat Campground, near Miracle Hot Springs day use area, is open to the public and accepts reservations through Recreation.gov.

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