Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes: 10 Natural Hot Springs You Need to Visit ⋆ We Dream of Travel Blog

Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes: 10 Natural Hot Springs You Need to Visit

Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of a girl soaking in a steaming hot spring in Mammoth Lakes with the sun rising over the mountains.

Few experiences compare to a moonlight soak in the natural hot springs in Mammoth Lakes. Imagine relaxing under the stars with breathtaking views of the Eastern Sierras in naturally heated, geothermal mineral water tubs. Exhale the crisp night air while you bask in their warmth.

Whether you are just passing through on a California road trip or vacationing nearby, make sure you schedule time to enjoy the numerous hot springs around Mammoth Lakes. There are quite a few in the region and each can be visited with a standard 2WD vehicle. The best part is that most of them are completely free!

This guide provides overviews, directions, and information on each of the springs in the area, as well as a few nearby. Many of them are local secrets and are maintained entirely by visitors. Please be respectful of these natural treasures and please read the section on hot springs ethics carefully to ensure future visitors can enjoy them as well.

Map of the Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes

While the hot springs near Mammoth Lake are mostly well known nowadays, they can be somewhat troublesome to find if you’re not well prepared. Cell service is limited near the hot springs, so we recommend you open this Google Map in a new tab and save an offline version to make finding them easier. We’ve pinned all the hot springs in this post, as well as included a suggested driving route and directions from the city of Mammoth Lakes. Once you open the map, you can toggle on the driving routes to the different hot springs.

During the winter months, many of the roads may be closed due to snow. However, most of the hot springs will still be accessible by parking nearby and walking in. Or for the adventurous type, winter access is possible by snowmobile, snowshoe or cross-country skiing!

Hot springs in Mammoth Lakes map.
Map of Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs.

Natural Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes

Watching the sunrise from Wild Willys hot spring on a warm summer morning.
Watching the sunrise from Wild Willys hot spring (aka Crowley hot spring) on a warm summer morning.

The hot springs in Mammoth Lakes are all primitive with no facilities nearby. With this in mind, ensure you’re self-sufficient for the amount of time you’ll be exploring the hot tubs and take plenty of water. Please also be respectful of the environment which is very fragile. Keep on trails, pack out all your trash, and follow all leave no trace principles to ensure these hot springs remain open for future visitors.

The pools are all filled with natural thermal spring water and have been built and maintained by volunteers. The pools vary from rock-walled, grit-bottomed hot springs to cement-walled tubs. It is even possible to control the temperature at some of the Mammoth hot springs using valves set up on the piping system.

All of the hot springs can be accessed without a four-wheel-drive or high clearance vehicle in typical conditions. However, the roads may become impassable due to snow or during heavy rains. On occasion, local government will close the roads entirely following inclement weather.

Last, be aware that many of the hot springs go by more than one name. Make sure you know both so you don’t end up searching for the same one you’ve already visited!

Rock Tub Hot Springs (aka Whitmore Hot Springs)

Soaking in warm water and golden hour light at The Rock Tub in Mammoth Lakes, California.
Soaking in warm water and golden hour light at The Rock Tub in Mammoth Lakes.

Due to its location and easy access, Rock Tub, also referred to as Whitmore Hot Spring, is one of the more popular springs in the area. Requiring no hike at all, Rock Tub Hot Spring is conveniently located right next to the parking lot. It is also the closest to Mammoth Lakes (just a 15-minute drive from the town). You can find more information, beyond the basics, in our comprehensive guide to Rock Tub Hot Springs.

The water was a little cooler than some of the other hot springs at around 100°F (38°c), which made it more comfortable to sit in for a sustained period. The most notable feature of Rock Tub is the spectacular views it offers of the Sierra Mountains.

This small tub can comfortably fit 2-4 people and is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. However, you should expect to share it with others at this time!

Many of the hot springs in the area have more than one name locally, and Rock Tub Hot Springs is no exception. It is often referred to as Whitmore Hot Springs, a name that is also sometimes applied to the entire region! However, to ensure you end up in the right place, you’ll want to put Rock Tub Hot Springs into Google or follow the directions below. If you put “Whitmore Hot Springs” into Google Maps you will arrive at Whitmore Pools, a public swimming pool and despite there being a “Whitmore Tub” listed, it is disappointingly not a hot spring. We’ve detailed everything you need to know in this guide to Whitmore Hot Springs to clear up any confusion!

Quick Facts for Rock Tub Hot Spring

The Rock Tub is the easiest to access of the Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs.
The Rock Tub (aka Whitmore Hot Spring) is the easiest to access of the Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs.
  • Coordinates for Rock Tub Hot Spring: 37°38’51.4″N 118°48’28.9″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°38’51.4″N 118°48’28.9″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 2-4 people
  • Temperature: Approximately 100°F (37.8°c)
  • Hike Distance: 0 miles
  • Amenities: None

Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (aka Crowley Hot Spring)

Soaking in Wild Willys Hot Spring also known as Crowleys Hot Spring in Mammoth Lakes under moonlight.
Relaxing in the moonlight at Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (aka Crowley Hot Spring).

Surrounded by a dramatic mountain backdrop, Wild Willy’s Hot Spring, also known as Crowley Hot Spring, is the largest of the Mammoth Lake hot springs. There are two pools, both of which are entirely naturally fed with no piping in sight. Although the pools have been slightly built up, you will be sitting directly on the earth during your soak.

From the parking lot, follow the gravel and wooden boardwalk through meadowland to reach the hot springs. Please stay on the trail as the surrounding environment is fragile!

At the end of the boardwalk, you’ll reach the main hot spring. It is about 10ft wide and 3ft deep. Expect the water to get smaller, shallower and cooler as you wade through the pools upstream.

In addition to the main pool, there is another hot spring about 90ft back up the boardwalk. This pool is smaller but deeper and hotter than the main pool. I found this upper pool to be much more comfortable at night or on a cool morning!

Quick Facts for Wild Willy’s Hot Spring

Sunrise photo from Wild Willys, one of the natural Mammoth Lakes hot springs.
Watching the sunrise from the tubs at Wild Willys.
  • Coordinates for Wild Willy’s Hot Spring: 37°39’40.4″N 118°46’03.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°39’33.0″N 118°46’16.2″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 40+ people between the two pools
  • Temperature: Approximately 95°F (35°c) in the main pool and 105°F (40.5°c) in the smaller pool
  • Hiking distance one way: 0.25 miles
  • Amenities: None

Hilltop Hot Spring (aka Pulkey’s Pool)

Enjoying the sunset from the scenic Hilltop Hot Spring, California.
Enjoying the sunset from the scenic Hilltop Hot Spring in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

The following section is the bare essentials. However, we have written a complete guide with far more photos and details; find those in our travel guide to Hilltop Hot Springs.

With its idyllic location, Hilltop Hot Springs, also known as Pulkey’s Pool, offers 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding meadows and Sierra Mountains. This hot spring is the perfect place for an evening soak as the sun sets behind the distant mountains.

Although this man-made stone tub has a less natural appearance than some of the other hot springs in the Long Valley Caldera, it does boast the option of controlling the temperature in the pool. The pool is fed by a system of pipes from the geothermally heated creek nearby and you can adjust the temperature by valve to ensure it’s just the right temperature!

Its stone base also provides a more comfortable seat to relax and enjoy the views. Hilltop Hot Springs is reached via a short boardwalk from the parking lot which adds to the feeling of seclusion upon arrival.

Quick Facts for Hilltop Hot Spring

Golden light floods in during a sunset soak at Pulkey's Pool, one of six hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
Golden light floods in during a sunset soak at Pulkey’s Pool.
  • Coordinates for Hilltop Hot Spring: 37°39’50.3″N 118°47’21.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°39’37.4″N 118°47’19.9″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 6-8 people
  • Temperature: Variable, controlled by a valve (100-110°F / 38-43°c)
  • Hike Distance: 0.25 miles
  • Amenities: None

Shepherd Hot Springs

Spring morning photography of Shepherd Hot Spring, one of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
Nothing beats a morning session at Shepherd Hot Spring.

Conveniently located right next to the parking lot, Shepherd Hot Springs requires no walk at all to access. In addition, the roads to Shepherd Hot Springs are easier to navigate than many of the other Mammoth hot springs and don’t require 4WD or high clearance.

The ease of access makes Shepherd Hot Spring one of the more popular of the Mammoth Hot Springs. However, it is very small and looks less natural than most of the others you will discover in this guide.

The cement tub has water piped in from a nearby source. As a result, users are able to adjust the temperature of the pool via a single valve. It also has ledges built into it for comfortable seating. Although the parking lot doesn’t provide the most scenic of overlooks, it does offer breathtaking views over the meadow towards the mountains.

Find more photos and everything you need to know in our complete guide to Shepherd Hot Springs.

Quick Facts for Shepherd Hot Spring

Embracing the warmth of Shepherd Hot Spring; the smallest and quietest of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
Embracing the warmth of Shepherd Hot Spring; the smallest and quietest of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
  • Coordinates for Shepherd Hot Spring: 37°40’00.9″N 118°48’12.1″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°40’00.5″N 118°48’13.1″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 4 people
  • Temperature: Variable, controlled by a valve (95°F-100°F / 35°c-38°c)
  • Hike Distance: 0 miles
  • Amenities: None

Crab Cooker Hot Spring [CLOSED]

Crab Cooker was once considered the best of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, but is now sadly empty.
Crab Cooker was once considered the best of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, but is now sadly empty.

Unfortunately, Crab Cooker Hot Spring no longer contains any water and, according to locals, hasn’t done so in quite some time. It’s hard to say when or if it will ever be functional again. This is truly unfortunate as it is set in a beautiful location and was once known for being one of the hotter tubs for those that enjoy the heat.

You can still reach Crab Cooker despite it being unusable. It is accessible by either driving to the parking lot and walking 200ft from there, or by walking 0.5 miles from Shepherd Hot Springs.

We chose to walk from Shepherd Hot Springs just to see it, even though we knew it was empty! The dirt road to Crab Cooker can be rough and high clearance and 4WD is often recommended.

Quick Facts for Crab Cooker Hot Spring

  • Coordinates for Crab Cooker Hot Spring: 37°39’46.1″N 118°48’00.6″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°39’49.7″N 118°48’00.9″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 4-6 people
  • Temperature: 105°F (40.5°c) (Currently without water in August 2021)
  • Hike Distance: 250ft
  • Amenities: None

Little Hot Creek (aka Siphon Tub)

A moment of bliss during a skyfire sunset at the Siphon Tub hot spring in Little Hot Creek outside of Mammoth Lakes, CA.
A moment of bliss during a skyfire sunset at the Siphon Tub hot spring in Little Hot Creek outside of Mammoth Lakes.

Requiring a bit more of a drive to get to, Little Hot Creek, or Siphon Hot Tub as it seems to be known locally, is perhaps the least popular of the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes. Ironically, it happened to be my favorite!

While many of the other hot springs require only a 10-20 minute drive from Mammoth Lakes, Little Hot Creek is a 30-40 minute drive. Also, the last 1.5 miles are over a very bumpy dirt road. Be aware that the road in is often closed after heavy rainfall. Four-wheel drive and high clearance are not required during good conditions, but you will need to take it slowly!

The reward for those willing to make the effort is a secluded tub surrounded by lush vegetation with beautiful views. Running alongside the cement tub is a little hot creek, from which it derives its name. You can also enter the water here but the tub provides a far more comfortable base with concrete ledges that act as benches. Also, there is some old rusted metal in the creek portion which presents a health hazard, so be extremely cautious!

It is worth checking the temperature of the water before entering as it can get very hot if the valve is left open. If this is the case, turn off the valve on the pipe inside of the pool and wait for the water to cool down.

Quick Facts for Little Hot Creek aka Siphon Pool

Chose between the heated Siphon Pool or the aptly named Little Hot Creek nearby and enjoy a magical sunset soak.
Chose between the heated Siphon Pool or the aptly named Little Hot Creek nearby and enjoy a magical sunset soak.
  • Coordinates for Little Hot Creek: 37°41’23.8″N 118°50’32.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 37°41’25.0″N 118°50’32.7″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 6-8 people
  • Temperature: Variable, controlled by a valve (100°F-115°F / 38°c-46°c)
  • Hike Distance: 100ft
  • Amenities: None

Hot Creek Geological Site

Sunrise at Hot Creek Geological Site is a must-see while exploring the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
Sunrise at Hot Creek Geological Site is a must-see while exploring the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.

While it is no longer possible to soak in the hot springs at Hot Creek Geological Site, it is well worth a visit while exploring the Long Valley Caldera. A scenic wonderland awaits as steam rises from mineral-rich turquoise water, bubbling up from the creek bed against a backdrop of towering mountains.

It is a rapidly evolving environment with the springs and geysers changing location, temperature and flow rates frequently and unpredictably. New hot springs have been known to appear overnight at Hot Creek andtemperature changes of 200°F (93°c) over seconds have been recorded within the stream. For this reason, entering the water is extremely dangerous and illegal.

You may even notice that fences that were previously located around the hot springs now run through active pools, showing just how much this geological wonderland has changed in recent years.

The Hot Creek is easily accessed throughout most of the year. However, the roads may be closed due to snow in the winter season. In these instances, the only way to access it is via snowmobile, snowshoe or cross-country skiing!

From the parking lot, there is a well-maintained asphalt trail with many interpretive signs to the creek bed. As you near the base, the trail changes to dirt, and adequate footwear is recommended.

Don’t miss Brees Lookout for perhaps the best view of the Geological Site. From this viewpoint, you get an almost birdseye view of the snaking creek below. If possible, stay for sunset or come early for sunrise to appreciate the atmosphere created by shrouds of steam against the grandeur of the distant mountains.

Quick Facts for Hot Creek Geological Site

Enjoy a hike and some impressive overlooks, but do not bathe in the water at Geological Hot Creek!
Enjoy a hike and some impressive overlooks, but do not bathe in the water at Geological Hot Creek!
  • Coordinates for Hot Creek Geological Site: 37°39’38.1″N 118°49’40.3″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Brees Lookout coordinates: 37°39’47.2″N 118°49’37.4″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: N/A swimming is illegal here
  • Temperature: 199°F (93°c)
  • Hike Distance: 0.2 miles
  • Amenities: Toilets

Other Natural Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes

The Long Vallery Caldera Hot Springs are not the only hot springs near Mammoth Lakes. Head north and you will discover several other natural hot springs tucked away inHumboldt Toiyabe National Forest land that just beckon to be soaked in.

Travertine Hot Springs

Travertine Hot Springs are located about an hour north of Mammoth Lakes but are well-worth the drive!
Travertine Hot Springs are located about an hour north of Mammoth Lakes but are well-worth the drive!

Long relished for their proclaimed healing powers, it is believed that these hot springs have been visited by people for over 10,000 years and they continue to offer a magical experience today. Mineral rich thermal water runs down a crack in the travertine rock before collecting in the rock pools below.

The Travertine Hot Springs are easily accessed and no longer a secret. Nowadays, they are extremely popular with locals and visitors alike. In fact, there is even an ADA accessible cement tub located next to the parking lot, before reaching the main springs.

However, many visitors don’t realize how many secret hot springs lie beyond the main pools! If you know where to go, your chances are very good at finding a hot spring to have to yourself. Settle in for a dip while admiring views of the Sawtooth Sierra Mountains.

We have detailed the exact locations of each of the secret springs as well as everything you need to know in our Travertine Hot Springs guide!

Quick Facts for Travertine Hot Springs

Sitting in one of the secret pools of Travertine Hot Springs just north of Mammoth Lakes, CA.
There are many secret pools at Travertine Hot Springs; find them all on our Travertine guide.
  • Coordinates for Travertine Hot Springs: 38°14’43.3″N 119°12’18.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 38°14’44.6″N 119°12’14.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 10-15 people in the main pools, more at the secret hot springs
  • Temperature: Varied (100°F+ / 38°c+)
  • Hike Distance: 0.15 miles
  • Amenities: Drop toilet

Buckeye Hot Springs

Sitting under the hot waterfall at Buckeye Hot Springs, located about an hour north of the Mammoth Lakes hot springs.
Do not miss the hot waterfall at Buckeye Hot Spring, located about an hour north of the Mammoth Lakes hot springs.

Buckeye Hot Springs offer a unique experience to any of the other hot springs near Mammoth Lakes.Nestled into the northern bank of Buckeye Creek, four rock-walled pools have been dug out to contain the hot water that flows over the travertine wall, creating a mini-waterfall, from the springs above. Here you can soak in thermal pools, while hot mineral water caresses your back, a babbling creek churns alongside and unspoiled wilderness surrounds you.

In addition to the creekside pools, there are two other hot springs set further up the bank, closer to the parking lot. These hot springs are hotter than the lower pools and offer spectacular views over the creek below. Ensure you stop by these either on your way down to the others or back up.

There is a lot more to see and do at Buckeye Creek! Find out everything you need to know about visiting these wonderful pools in our Buckeye Hot Springs guide.

Quick Facts for Buckeye Hot Springs

Girl sitting in the hillside pools of Buckeye Hot Spring.
The view from the hillside pool at Buckeye Hot Springs is as satisfying as the rejuvenating mineral water!
  • Coordinates for Buckeye Hot Springs: 38°14’20.3″N 119°19’31.6″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Parking coordinates: 38°14’23.1″N 119°19’32.8″W (open in Google Maps here)
  • Size: Fits 30+ people between the various pools by the creek and the two pools higher up on the bank
  • Temperature: Varied (100°F+ / 38°c+), 140°F / 60°c at the source
  • Hike Distance: 150-300ft
  • Amenities: None

Private Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes

In addition to the many natural Mammoth Lakes hot springs, there are also a couple of private options. These hot springs both charge an entrance fee

Personally, we enjoyed exploring the natural hot springs enough that we didn’t venture to the private ones. However, in order to provide you the most comprehensive coverage of the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes we felt it important to mention them!

Benton Hot Springs

Benton Hot Springs are located in the historic town of Benton, 40 miles northeast of Mammoth Lakes. This quaint town was a thriving silver mining town between 1865 and 1890 with a population of up to 5000 people. Today, many of its old buildings remain and make for a fascinating visit. The Inn at Benton Hot Springs aims to preserve this history, and as such the bedrooms and buildings are of a unique decor.

However, the biggest draw here are the hot springs! There are 12 campsites with constructed hot tubs fed by natural spring water. Each hot tub site has cottonwood trees and partial fencing for privacy, as well as a picnic table. The spring water at the source is 140°F (60°c), however you can control the temperature of your tub! The campsites cost $70-80 per night for double occupancy and no hook-ups are available.

Additionally, there are three private outdoor tubs for guests occupying one of the seven rooms at the Inn. These rooms start at $149 per night including breakfast.

Find out more and book your accommodation at the Benton Hot Springs website.

Keough’s Hot Springs

The pools at Keough’s Hot Springs were built in 1919 and are the same pools that are used today. It offers the largest pool filled with natural spring water in the Eastern Sierra. Unlike the other hot springs near Mammoth Lakes, this pool is far from natural and is, in fact, a large swimming pool!

There are two pools, a large cooler pool that is a comfortable temperature for a gentle swim and a smaller hot pool for soaking.

The large pool is 100x40ft with a depth of 3-8.5ft and is kept at 86-89°F (30-31.5°c) in the summer and 90-92°F (32-33°c) in the winter. The hot pool is smaller at 15x40ft with an average depth of 2ft, but is much warmer at a cozy 104°F (40°c) year-round. Entrance to the pools costs $12 per adult.

They also have lodging onsite, including both tent camping and campsites with hook-ups. Find out more at the Keough’s Hot Springs website.

When to Visit Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs

Best Time of Day to Visit the Hot Springs

A girl soaks under moonlight at Wild Willys hot spring in Mammoth Lakes at night.
Some think the best time of day to visit the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes is actually at night!

Truly, there is no best time of day to enjoy a visit to the Mammoth Lakes hot springs! In fact, many prefer avoiding a daytime visit altogether and going for a moonlit night soak instead.

Sunrise is undoubtedly a great time to visit as well. During this time, you’re far more likely to enjoy the springs to yourself. The air will also be cooler, allowing you to fully appreciate the thermal water. All this while you admire the sun slowly rising up over the distant mountains.

However, we appreciate that getting out for sunrise isn’t for everyone! The second best time of day to visit is during the evening golden hour into sunset. Watching the golden light dance over the scenery as the clouds change color is a magical experience.

Best Time of Year to Visit the Hot Springs

Watching the moonrise at sunset from Little Hot Creek.
Little Hot Creek is nice any time of year, but may not be accessible in the winter.

Our travels to the Mammoth hot springs was in the summer and we thoroughly enjoyed each of our hot tub visits. While the days are too hot to enjoy the hot springs, the nights get cool enough to make an evening soak appealing. However, we did find the mosquitoes to be quite aggressive around sunset!

Perhaps the best time of year to visit the hot springs is either spring or fall. The weather is cool enough to allow you to enjoy the springs at any time of day, all the springs should be accessible, the mosquitoes won’t be bothering you, and you are likely to have a snow dusting on at least the mountain tops to add a little extra beauty to the landscape.

While the snow will undoubtedly create a magical winter wonderland and make the warmth of the hot springs all the more appealing, it does make driving more difficult and access more limited, as well as getting in and out of the pools a little less comfortable!

Where to Stay near Mammoth Lake Hot Springs

Accommodation

Accommodation options near Bridgeport.
There are many accommodation options in Mammoth Lakes, but book ahead for a visit to Travertine Hot Springs near Bridgeport.

The Long Valley Caldera region where the majority of the Mammoth Lakes hot springs are located is extremely popular for dispersed camping. However, we understand many of you aren’t traveling in a camper van or simply prefer a proper bed and four walls around you.

Fortunately, most of the hot springs are only a 15-20 minute drive from Mammoth Lakes. In town, you will find a range of accommodation options to suit your taste!

You can find current options for accommodation in Mammoth Lakes here.

If you venture north to Travertine Hot Springs and Buckeye Hot Springs (highly recommended!), you may wish to consider an overnight stay in Bridgeport. Accommodation options are more limited here as it is a small town, however, there are a few places with great reviews in the area that are worth considering.

You can find current options for accommodation in Bridgeport here.

Camping near Mammoth Lakes

A campervan is dispersed camping on BLM land near the Mammoth Lakes hot springs.
Dispersed camping is plentiful near the Mammoth Lakes hot springs. Please be respectful so it stays that way!

All of the Mammoth hot springs are located on public land, mostly managed by either the National Forest Service or BLM. Due to this, primitive camping is permitted in the many pull-offs in the area.

While there are ample places to camp, be aware that there are no toilets or other services. As such, you are expected to help protect these public lands by packing out all waste with you, including human waste. Additionally, be sure not to set up camp in the delicate meadowland nearby. You will see a lot of signage informing you of areas where camping is not permitted.You can find out more about camping on public land on the BLM website and the National Forest Service website.

The closest developed campground to the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes isBrown’s Owens River Campground. They have both RV and tent campsites. We chose to stay on BLM land so cannot personally recommend this site but it does have great reviews.

If you require full hook-ups and facilities, Mammoth Mountain RV Park is a great option. We booked in here for one night while staying in town. As it is in the city of Mammoth Lakes, it requires a 15-20 minute drive to the hot springs but is a great option if you require hook-ups.

Camping Near Travertine and Buckeye Hot Springs

For those of you that make it up to Travertine Hot Springs and Buckeye Hot Springs, you will have similar options there. There are many places for dispersed camping as both hot springs are on National Forest land. You are not permitted to camp in the parking lot, however.

There are a few developed campgrounds in the area if you require additional amenities. Those closest to Travertine Hot Springs include Paradise ShoresBridgeport Reservoir, and Willow Springs Motel & RV Park. These are all within 10-15 minutes drive from Travertine Hot Springs, have excellent reviews, and offer full RV hookups at comparable rates. The closest option to Buckeye Hot Springs is Buckeye Campground. This campsite is basic, offering vault and flush toilets, but no potable water or other amenities.

Tips for Responsibly Enjoying Mammoth Lake Hot Springs

The hot springs in Mammoth are cherished by locals and visitors alike. They continue to remain open to the public and to operate ungoverned based on the collective cooperation of visitors. Please ensure you read the following section carefully and do your part to ensure these natural treasures are protected.

Clothing is optional at the Mammoth hot springs, as seen in this night photo at Pulkeys Pool.
Nudity is common at the Mammoth hot springs as a way to connect deeper with nature.

Nudity

All of the public hot springs in and around Mammoth Lakes are considered “clothing optional”. As such, you will likely encounter visitors enjoying the hot springs in the nude.

While you’re welcome to wear a swimsuit, there is something special about experiencing the hot springs in your birthday suit and connecting with nature. Most nude visitors are respectful and discrete, but it is worth keeping this in mind if you’re planning on visiting with kids or aren’t comfortable with nudity.

Leave No Trace

Please follow all leave no trace principles. Make sure you leave the hot springs as good as or better than you found them! There is no trash collection at any of the public hot springs in the area, so ensure you take all trash with you.

Importantly, please do not bring any glass containers to the springs! As you can imagine, accidents can happen, and cleaning up broken glass is a nightmare and will inevitably end up with someone being injured.

Finally, the area surrounding all of the hot springs is a very delicate environment. Please stick to trails to reach the various hot springs.

Bugs

The mosquitoes around some of the hot springs can be quite aggressive in the evenings during the summer. We found these to be more problematic around the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes than the hot springs further north.

Chemical insect repellants are not recommended as they will pollute the water source! Furthermore, the repellant will wash off once you’re in the water anyway! It might be worth applying some natural insect repellant, such as this plant-based option, to your face during the summer (you can submerge the rest of your body into safety!).

If you’re visiting in cooler months you are far less likely to encounter any pesky bugs.

Hydration

While we highly recommend taking a few canned beers with you to the springs to enjoy at sunset, do not forget to also take plenty of water with you! You will be sitting in 100-110°F (38-43°c) water and can become dehydrated very quickly without noticing, particularly if you’re also drinking alcohol. It is recommended to take a gallon of water per person.

Altitude

Travertine Hot Springs is located at an elevation of 6,750 ft (2,060 m). While altitude sickness is unlikely to have much effect until you’re above 8,000ft (2,500m), you may feel short of breath and dizzy at the hot springs due to the higher elevation, particularly if you’ve recently arrived in the area. This will usually pass within a couple of days. It is, however, worth keeping in mind as the heat of the pool along with the higher elevation may cause you to feel dizzy sooner than you may expect.

Packing

You don’t need to bring too much with you to enjoy Travertine Hot Springs. However, I would recommend the following:

  1. A swimsuit if you’re not comfortable going nude or if there are families around!
  2. Flip flops or sandals that you don’t mind getting wet and possibly a bit muddy.
  3. A travel towel.
  4. Warm layers for before/after if it’s cold out.
  5. Ecofriendly/reef-safe sunscreen, our favorite is Stream 2 Sea sunscreen. As you’re at higher elevation, the UV rays are stronger here.
  6. Plenty of water! (Ideally in a reusable water bottle to protect the world from unnecessary plastic!). As mentioned, it is easy to get dehyrated due to the heat and elevation. A gallon per person is recommended.
  7. A small cooler of canned beer or your beverage of choice. Just please do not bring anything in glass.
  8. A camera! These hot springs are beautiful and you’ll likely want to capture the moment. All our photos were taken with our Sony a7riii.

Bathing

The natural hot springs are for soaking, NOT for bathing. They are located within a fragile environment and the water from the various springs feed into this. Therefore, please do not use soaps in any of the hot springs. Similarly, rinse off any insect repellant or lotions before entering the hot springs to help protect the environment.

Cell Service

Depending on your cell provider, you may pick up some service in spots near the hot springs, but it is limited. Be prepared to be without service and download offline maps to ensure you can get about with ease.

Related & Regional Guides near Mammoth Lakes, CA

In addition to this general guide, we have also created in-depth guides to each of the individual hot springs listed above.

Bookmark these additional regional guides to ensure you don’t miss out on anything nearby!

Mammoth Lakes and Nearby Destinations Guides

Yosemite Guides

Finally, feel free to browse our Yosemite professional photography gallery or Northern California gallery for prints and inspiration 🙂

Final thoughts on Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs

Fiery sunset from Little Hot Creek near Mammoth Hot Springs.
A blazing sunset at Little Hot Creek… what could be better?

If these photos haven’t inspired you to carve out time in your California itinerary for a trip to the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, I’m not sure you’re human! These enchanting waters offer warmth and comfort for the body and soul alike. What’s more, each of the views you’ll enjoy belong on a postcard.

I hope you have enjoyed our travel guide and found it both informative and inspiring. Please do your part to protect these natural treasures so that others can enjoy them as well.

If there is anything you found inaccurate or confusing, please let us know in the comments below. Additionally, I would genuinely appreciate it if you left a positive comment as well! We value all constructive feedback.

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**All photos contained in this photography-based travel blog are copyright of Adam Marland & Sophie Clapton. 
They are not to be used for any purpose without the expressed, written consent of their owners.**