Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs Guide: How to Find EVERY Spring!

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.

This guide provides overviews, directions, and information on ALL of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding area. Each can be visited with a standard 2WD vehicle most of the year, but will require hiking for winter visits.

All of the springs you will discover 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.

Whether you are just passing through on a California road trip or vacationing nearby, make sure you schedule time for at least a couple soaks!

Map of the Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes

While the hot springs near Mammoth Lake are mostly well-known, they can still be somewhat troublesome to find.

Cell phone service is limited near the hot springs! 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.

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

Many of the roads may be closed due to snow in the winter months. 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 Overview

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.

Before you begin reading up on the individual springs, there are some commonalities amongst them that you should be aware of. Quickly browse this section and make sure you understand the conditions and general principles to ensure an enjoyable visit.

List of Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes

Below is the complete list of all the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes and photo gallery including each location.

  1. Rock Tub Hot Springs (aka Whitmore Hot Springs)
  2. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (aka Crowley Hot Spring)
  3. Hilltop Hot Spring (aka Pulkey’s Pool)
  4. Shepherd Hot Springs
  5. Crab Cooker Hot Spring (CURRENTLY CLOSED!)
  6. Little Hot Creek (aka Siphon Tub / Syphon Tub)
  7. Hot Creek Geological Site
  8. Travertine Hot Springs
  9. Buckeye Hot Springs
  10. Benton Hot Springs (Privately managed)
  11. Keough’s Hot Springs (Privately managed)

*Click on any highlighted names for a comprehensive visitor guide to that hot spring.*

  • 1. Rock Tub aka Whitmore Hot Springs

Restrooms & Facilities

The hot springs in Mammoth Lakes are all primitive with no restrooms or facilities nearby.

With this in mind, ensure you’re self-sufficient for the amount of time you’ll be exploring the hot tubs. This means taking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

If necessary, also be sure to bring toilet paper and a receptacle for disposing of it.

Getting There

All of the hot springs can be accessed in a standard vehicle. You will not require four-wheel-drive nor high clearance in typical conditions during warm-weather months.

However, the roads may become impassable due to snow in the winter or following heavy rains. On occasion, local enforcement will close the roads entirely following a storm or other inclement weather.

When the roads are closed, you can still hike to the hot springs if you so desire!

General Information

The pools are all filled with natural thermal spring water and have been built and maintained by volunteers. They vary from rock-walled, grit-bottomed hot springs to cement-walled tubs.

Some of the tubs even provide soakers the ability to control the temperature using valves set up on the piping system.

Please be respectful of this fragile environment. 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.

Understand that the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes are clothing-optional. You are encouraged to dress however you are comfortable, but do not be surprised to find other people enjoying the springs without swimsuits.

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!

Public Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes

All of the hot springs in this section are located within a 30-minute drive of the city of Mammoth Lakes. They are free and open to the public.

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.

Read the COMPLETE GUIDE to Rock Tub Hot Springs here, or just get the basics below.

Rock Tub Hot Spring requires no hike at all and is conveniently located right next to the parking lot. It is also the closest hot spring to Mammoth Lakes (just a 15-minute drive from the town).

Due to its location and easy access, Rock Tub Hot Spring is one of the most popular springs in the area.

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!

Is Whitmore Hot Spring and Rock Tub Hot Spring the same thing?

Yes, and no. “Yes” in that Rock Tub Hot Springs is so often mistakenly referred to as Whitmore Hot Springs that it has become a semi-official name for it. “No” in that Whitmore Hot Springs is actually the name of the entire geothermal region near Mammoth Lakes.

To ensure you end up in the right place, you’ll want to put Rock Tub Hot Springs into Google or use the directions below.

If you put “Whitmore Hot Springs” into Google Maps, you will arrive instead at Whitmore Pools; a public swimming pool!

Despite a “Whitmore Tub” listed at the pool, it is disappointingly not a hot spring.

Still confused? We’ve explained everything you need to know in this guide to Whitmore Hot Springs EXPLAINED to clear it up!

Quick Facts & Location of 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 Lakes hot springs.

There are two pools in a serene setting. Both are 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 spring, there is another tub nearby. Due to its shape, this second pool is sometimes called “Heart Pool”. You will find it about 90ft back up the boardwalk.

Heart Pool is smaller but deeper and hotter than the main spring. I found this upper pool to be much more comfortable at night or on a cool morning!

Quick Facts & Location of 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.

Read the COMPLETE GUIDE to Hilltop Hot Springs here, or just get the basics below.

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.

You will reach the spring via a short 0.5 mile boardwalk that begins at the parking lot. This short walk adds to the feeling of seclusion upon arrival at the spring.

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 water in the pool is fed by a system of pipes from a cold stream and geothermally heated creek nearby. This means that you can adjust the temperature of Hilltop Hot Spring via a pipe valve to ensure it’s just right.

Pulkey’s Pool has a stone base, which appear less natural but also provides a more comfortable seat to relax and enjoy the views than most of the other hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.

Quick Facts & Location of 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.

Read the COMPLETE GUIDE to Shepherd Hot Springs here, or just get the basics below.

The ease of access makes Shepherd Hot Spring one of the more popular Mammoth Hot Springs.

Conveniently located right next to the parking lot, reaching the tub requires no walk at all. In addition, the roads to Shepherd Hot Springs are easier to navigate than most of the others in the region.

The only downside to choosing Shepherd tub is that it is the smallest and least-natural in appearance. It is an all-cement tub with water piped in from a nearby source.

Soakers 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.

Quick Facts & Location of 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.
Once considered the best of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, Crab Cooker Hot Spring is now an empty tub.

Crab Cooker Hot Spring no longer contains any water as of Summer 2021! You can still visit but will discover only an empty rock tub.

It’s hard to say when or not Crab Cooker will ever be functional again. This is truly unfortunate as it was once considered the best hot spring in Mammoth Lakes.

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 along the path 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 & Location of 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 Hot Springs / Syphon 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 is known locally, is perhaps the least popular of the hot springs near Mammoth Lakes. Ironically, it happened to be our favorite!

The reward for those willing to make the effort is a secluded cement tub surrounded by lush vegetation with idyllic views. The seclusion and scenery combine to make this a special place to spend an evening.

Running alongside the cement tub is a little hot creek, from which it derives its name. You can wade in water here as well, 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. The tub can get very hot if the valve was left open by the previous guests. If this is the case, turn off the valve on the pipe inside of the pool and wait for the water to cool down.

How to get to Siphon Hot Springs aka Syphon Tub

Google Maps will deliver you to the correct location if you input Little Hot Creek, but you can also use these coordinates for parking: 37°41’25.0″N 118°50’32.7″W (open in Google Maps here.)

While many of the other hot springs require only a 10-20 minute drive from Mammoth Lakes, Siphon Hot Springs is a 30-40 minute drive, depending on conditions.

Be aware that the final 1.5 miles are over a very bumpy dirt road. This section will often be closed following heavy rainfall. Four-wheel drive and high clearance are not usually required, but you will need to take it slow!

Quick Facts & Location of 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.

You are no longer allowed to soak in the hot springs at Hot Creek Geological Site!

Still, this location is well worth a visit while exploring the Long Valley Caldera just to enjoy the views. A scenic wonderland awaits you 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 and temperature changes of 200°F (93°c) over seconds have been recorded within the stream. For this reason, entering the water at Hot Creek Geological Site is extremely dangerous and illegal.

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

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.

Getting to Hot Creek Geological Site

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!

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

Quick Facts & Location of 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 in Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest that just beg 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 the Travertine Hot Springs have been visited by people for over 10,000 years! They continue to offer a magical experience even 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 are no longer a local 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 COMPLETE GUIDE to Travertine Hot Springs!

Quick Facts & Location of 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.

Nestled into the northern bank of Buckeye Creek, Buckeye Hot Springs offer a unique experience to any of the other hot springs near Mammoth Lakes.

Four rock-walled pools have been dug out to contain the hot water that flows down from hot springs above. It enters these pools by gliding over a travertine wall, much like a mini-waterfall of sorts.

From under the falls you can soak in the dug-out pools while hot mineral water caresses your back. A babbling creek churns beside you 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 the upper tiers of Buckeye Hot Spring on your way down to the creek or on the way 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 COMPLETE GUIDE to Buckeye Hot Springs.

Quick Facts & Location of 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. Both Benton and Keough hot springs 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 the town’s rich history. As such, the bedrooms and design are of a unique decor.

However, the biggest draw to Benton are the hot springs! There are 12 campsites with constructed hot tubs fed by natural spring water. Each hot tub site uses cottonwood trees and partial fencing for privacy and a picnic table is provided.

The spring water at the source is 140°F (60°c), but you can control the individual 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 and include breakfast.

If this sounds more appealing than the simple options in Mammoth Lakes, you can 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, however, this pool is far from natural. In fact, a better description would be to call it a swimming pool!

There are two pools at Keough’s. One is a large, cooler pool that is a comfortable temperature for a gentle swim. The other is a smaller hot pool for soaking.

The large pool is 100x40ft and has a depth of 3-8.5ft. The water temperature 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 soak at night 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 get to admire the sun slowly rising up over the distant Sierra 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 summer temperatures are a bit too hot to enjoy the hot springs during the daytime, the nights get cool enough to make for an amazing evening soak. The downside is that the mosquitoes can be quite aggressive around sunset!

The best time of year to visit the Mammoth Lakes hot springs is in spring and fall. The weather is cool enough to allow you to enjoy the springs at any time of day, all the springs will be vehicle-accessible (free of snow), 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.

Winter is the most challenging time to visit unless you are local. While the snow will undoubtedly create a magical wonderland and make the warmth of the hot springs all the more appealing, it also makes driving more difficult. In addition, snow pack will make driving access to many of the pools limited or impossible.

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 wherein the majority of the Mammoth Lakes hot springs are located is extremely popular for dispersed and vehicle camping. In other words, self-contained campers will find an endless amount of public space to park up and sleep overnight.

However, we understand many of you aren’t traveling in an RV or 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 any 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. Accordingly, dispersed 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. You are expected to protect these public lands by packing out all waste that you bring in. This includes human waste.

Additionally, be sure not to set up camp in the delicate meadowland nearby. You will see a lot of signage that inform 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 is Brown’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 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! Accidents can happen and cleaning up broken glass is a nightmare that 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. 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.

Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs FAQs

Below are quick answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the springs and tubs nearby.

Are the Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs free?

Yes! All of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes are free and maintained by public volunteers with the exception of Benton & Keough’s hot springs.

Is Crab Cooker Hot Spring open?

Crab Cooker Hot Spring is open, BUT it does not contain any water! It has been empty since the summer of 2021. You are still welcome to visit but will be unable to soak.

Where is Whitmore Hot Spring?

This question causes a lot of confusion because there are three answers.

  1. Many people also refer to Rock Tub Hot Spring as Whitmore.
  2. Google Map searches for Whitmore Hot Spring will take you to Whitmore Pool, which is a public swimming pool (but contains no hot springs.)
  3. Whitmore Hot Springs is the source of the geothermally heated water in the Long Valley Caldera near Mammoth Lakes. In other words, it is not a tub or pool you can soak in, but rather the source of water for all other springs nearby.

Can you swim in hot springs in Mammoth Lakes?

Technically yes, you can swim in most of the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes. However, “wade” or “soak” are probably more accurate terms. None of the tubs or pools are really large enough to swim in.

Can you swim in Mammoth Hot Creek (California)?

You can no longer swim at the Mammoth Hot Creek Geological Site near Mammoth Lakes due to the danger of rapidly-changing water temperatures. However, you can and should swim in “Little Hot Creek” (also known as Siphon Hot Springs) nearby.

How many hot springs are in Mammoth Lakes?

There are a total of 9 hot springs in Mammoth Lakes and two more (Travertine & Buckeye) located nearby. These include:

  1. Rock Tub Hot Spring (aka Whitmore)
  2. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (aka Crowley)
  3. Hilltop Hot Spring (aka Pulkey’s Pool)
  4. Shepherd Hot Springs
  5. Crab Cooker Hot Spring (Empty!)
  6. Little Hot Creek (aka Siphon Tub / Syphon Tub)
  7. Hot Creek Geological Site
  8. Benton Hot Springs (Privately managed)
  9. Keough’s Hot Springs (Privately managed)

Can you camp at the Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs?

Yes, dispersed camping is legal but no restrooms or facilities are available. The closest developed campground to the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes is Brown’s Owens River Campground.

Other Mammoth Lakes and CAlifornia guides

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 Guides

Yosemite Guides

California 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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