When the holidays end and the tinsel and candy canes begin to disappear from store windows, it can feel as if the season’s spirit is gone just as quickly. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to fight off the winter blues in the Golden State.

The natural world around our hometown is just as beautiful as any Hallmark card. Even though the fog and chilly weather are here to stay for at least the next month or two, those who may enjoy the warmth of a winter campfire are still in luck.

A fireplace and stockings are not needed to recapture the cozy spirit of the holidays, and the Central Valley offers proof of this in the form of natural geyser water.

Just off Interstate 5 is Little Panoche Road on which is located Mercey Hot Springs. Rife with flowery Tamarisk trees, plenty of private camping spots and a majestic scattering of owls and rabbits, the hot springs are a gem to those who make regular trips. Whether it is adventuring or soaking, mercy can always be found in the waters of a hot spring.

The San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area is a nearby place for camping, fishing, or taking a nature walk. Located southwest of Santa Nella on both sides of Highway 152 the recreation area offers RV and camping sites along with a variety of spectacular views of the San Luis reservoir and its 12,672 acre surface area.

Anglers will be excited to find that there are numerous species of fish that anyone with a valid fishing license and some luck might catch in the reservoir or the O’Neill Forebay, which lies on the north side of Highway 152 and west side of Highway 33. Record size striped bass have been hooked at San Luis as have catfish, bluegill and other smaller species.

Boats launched in the reservoir or forebay whether for fishing or cruising are subject to inspection for the presence of Zebra and Quagga mussels, two species of mussel that can potentially cause millions of dollars in water and ecosystem damage due to their predatory nature. Visitors can learn about the mussel infestation prevention program online or by visiting the Romero Visitors Center at the reservoir.

The recreation area is open year-round, but the Basalt campgrounds and day use areas at the main reservoir are closed as improvements to the reservoir’s dam are ongoing. Camping and day use at the Cottonwood Creek site near the forebay is unaffected by the dam project.

The holidays may bring togetherness, but nature helps keep us in balance. One need not wait for the next holiday season to feel at one with themselves or the world around them, they need only pay a visit to the natural world.