Rock Tub Hot Springs, Mammoth Lakes: EVERYTHING You Need to Know About Visiting "Whitmore Hot Spring" ⋆ We Dream of Travel Blog

Rock Tub Hot Springs, Mammoth Lakes: EVERYTHING You Need to Know About Visiting “Whitmore Hot Spring”

Rock Tub Hot Springs blog cover graphic.  Text overlaying an image of a girl soaking in a hot spring overlooking the Sierra Nevada Mountains California

Just outside the city of Mammoth Lakes is a small oasis with geothermally- heated water and panoramic views known as The Rock Tub hot springs.  Visitors who make the short drive out are rewarded with a mineral-rich soak they will not soon forget.

This small tub is one of the most popular in the Long Valley Caldera region of California due to its proximity to town, ease of access, and stunning vistas.  It is also often mis-referred to as “Whitmore Hot Springs” so do not be confused or you may end up on a long dirt road to nowhere!

In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know for a fun, successful, and environmentally responsible visit to The Rock Tub hot springs.  Before you begin though, be aware that this is just one of several nearby soaking tubs!  Be sure to queue up ur comprehensive guide to EVERY hot spring in Mammoth Lakes so you do not miss any!

Disclosure: In order to keep providing you with free content, this post may contain affiliate links. If you make a booking or purchase through one of these links we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. So a HUGE thank you to you if you click one of these links 🙂

Rock Tub Hot Springs Overview

A visitor of Rock Tub hot springs in Mammoth Lakes has an evening soak.
Despite being located near a parking lot, The Rock Tub feels surprisingly secluded.

Rock Tub Hot Spring is the first of many hot springs in Mammoth Lakes that you’ll likely encounter. Set at the edge of a meadow and with spectacular mountain views, Rock Tub Hot Springs is one of the most popular in the area… and for good reason. Just a short 15-minute drive from Mammoth Lakes and with the tub conveniently located right next to the parking lot, Rock Tub is one of the most easily accessible hot springs in the Long Valley Caldera.

Hidden down a hill and nestled amongst greenery, Rock Tub provides a feeling of privacy and seclusion despite its proximity to the parking lot. Coupled with spectacular views over California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, it offers one of the most scenic hot tub vistas in the area. At a comfortable 100°F (37.8°c), this hot spring is cooler than some of the others, making it ideal for longer soaks or warmer seasons.

Due to its popularity, you can expect to share this pool with other hot tubbers. With this in mind, it’s also worth noting that Rock Tub, like the other hot springs in the area, is considered clothing optional and many choose to soak in the nude.

We visited late afternoon on a weekday in the summer and the hot tub was being enjoyed by a family with young children. After they left we had the hot spring to ourselves for about half an hour before we moved on. However, during that time there was another very friendly man nearby in an RV who had clearly made Rock Tub his temporary home!

Rock Tub Hot Springs or Whitmore Hot Springs?

A young girl enjoys the scenic views of the Sierra Mountains from The Rock Tub hot spring.
Come for the warm mineral water, stay for the mountain views!

Whitmore Hot Springs in particular seems to cause a lot of confusion… it certainly did for us! We popped “Whitmore Hot Springs” into Google Maps only to find ourselves on a dirt road that seemingly led nowhere with a sign saying “No access to hot springs”. Clearly we weren’t the first to have been brought here by Google.

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 in blogs and online articles, but it is also a name commonly applied to the entire region outside of Mammoth Lakes!

To ensure you end up in the right place, you’ll want to put Rock Tub Hot Springs into Google Navigation or follow the directions below. If you search for “Whitmore Hot Springs” in Google Maps, you may arrive at Whitmore Pools (a public swimming pool) and despite having a “Whitmore Tub” listed, it is disappointingly not a hot spring.

To clarify, there is not an additional Whitmore Hot Springs tub that you’re missing! If you are still confused, you can read everything there is to know in this Whitmore Hot Springs Explained guide.

Rock Tub Hot Springs Facts

Location of Rock Tub Hot Springs:  Off Whitmore Tubs Road, about 10 miles east of Mammoth Lakes, California
Coordinates for Rock Tub Hot Springs: 37°38’51.4″N 118°48’28.9″W (open in Google Maps here)
Elevation: 7,000 ft (2,134 m)

Open: Year-round
Size: Fits 4-6 people
Temperature: Approximately 100°F (37.8°c)
Development: Primitive
Clothing: Optional
Services: None
Hiking distance: None
Road Access: Any vehicle
Fees: None

How to Get to Rock Tub Hot Springs

Photo of Rock Tub Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Of all the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes, Rock Tub is the easiest to get to, with the majority of the drive being on paved roads. However, as mentioned above, confusion often occurs when looking for Whitmore Hot Springs. Ensure you put Rock Tub Hot Springs into Google Maps or follow the directions below to ensure you arrive at the correct location.

You do not require four wheel drive nor high clearance to access Rock Tub, however you may need to take it slow for the last 0.1 miles of dirt road.

Additionally, although the drive is fairly straightforward, cell service is limited in the area and the hot springs are not signposted. Therefore, I recommend downloading offline maps or saving the section below with driving instructions.

Map of Rock Tub Hot Springs

The map below shows the location of Rock Tub Hot Springs and driving directions from Mammoth Lakes. Click here or on the map above to open the directions in Google Maps.

Driving directions to Rock Tub Hot Springs from Mammoth Lakes.
Driving directions to Rock Tub Hot Springs from Mammoth Lakes.

Directions to Rock Tub Hot Springs

Rock Tub Hot Springs is located along a dirt road off of Whitmore Tubs Road. GPS: 37°38’51.4″N 118°48’28.9″W

  1. From Mammoth Lakes take the US-395 S, or from Bishop take the US-395 N.
  2. Turn left if coming from Mammoth or right if coming from Bishop onto Benton Crossing Road. You will see a small green church at the junction.
  3. In 1.1 miles, turn left at the fork onto Whitmore Tubs Road. This road is gravel but well maintained with the occasional rut.
  4. After a further 1.1 miles turn right onto an unmarked small dirt road.
  5. Continue 0.1 miles to reach the primitive parking lot where you’ll park. You will be able to see the hot spring on the left near the end of the road.

The hot spring is open year-round, but the roads may be impassable in snow. During the winter, it is still possible to access the hot springs by cross country skiing, snowshoe, or snowmobile when the roads are closed if you’re feeling adventurous!

When to Visit Rock Tub Hot Springs

A beautiful girls enjoying golden light during a sunset soak in Rock Tub Hot Springs.
Enjoying the golden light during a sunset soak in Rock Tub Hot Springs.

The best time to visit The Rock Tub hot springs is at sunrise.  Being here as early as possible gives you the best chance at being the first to arrive, meaning you may get some time in the tub to yourself.  Additionally, this gives you the coolest temperatures for fully appreciating the superheated water.  And, of course, watching the sun rise up over the distant mountains is pretty good incentive as well.

If morning is not your thing, sunset is also a beautiful time to visit.  It is far more likely you will be sharing the space with others, but the evening light is beautiful at Rock Tub.

We assume you will be visiting the hot springs as part of larger trip to Mammoth Lakes, so you may not have much seasonal flexibility in your California itinerary.  The good news is that there is no bad season to visit as each offers unique pros and cons.  Be aware that the road may be impassable following winter snow storms, however.  In these instances, the hot springs themselves still remain open for the adventurous type who choose to visit by snowshoe, snowmobile, or skis.

If you are able to be picky, fall and spring are the best seasons for a visit to any of the Mammoth Lakes hot springs, including Rock Tub.  The temperatures have dropped a bit, making daytime soaks more enjoyable, and the mosquitos are mostly gone.  Additionally, a bit of snow on the Sierras really adds some magic to the scene.

Where to Stay near Rock Tub Hot Springs

Accommodation

You will noticed many campers and RV parked throughout the Long Valley Caldera region where the Mammoth hot springs are located. While dispersed camping is popular here, we appreciate that not everyone is traveling by camper and some will simply prefer a solid four walls and proper bed!

Fortunately, Rock Tub Hot Springs is only 15 minutes drive from the city of Mammoth Lakes where ample accommodation options are available. Here you’ll find something to suit all budgets and needs from BnBs to cozy inns, large resorts and everything in between!

Find current prices and availability for accommodation in Mammoth Lakes here.

Dispersed Camping

There are ample places with incredible views for dispersed camping near the Mammoth Lakes hot springs.
There are ample places with incredible views for dispersed camping near the Mammoth Lakes hot springs.

As mentioned, dispersed camping is extremely popular in the area surrounding Rock Tub Hot Springs. Almost the entire Long Valley Caldera is public land managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM). “Freedom camping” is permitted on most of the secondary roads and pull offs unless otherwise signposted.

It is worth noting that camping in this way is primitive; you will not find any toilets or other facilities, and you are expected to help protect the public lands by packing out all of your trash, including human waste. Please also do not camp in the delicate meadowlands near the hot springs, use existing sites to avoid creating new disturbances.

You can find out more about camping on public land on the BLM website and National Forest Service website.

RV / Developed Camping

The closest developed campsite to Rock Tub Hot Springs is Brown’s Owens River Campground, at just 11 minutes away. They offer both tent sites and RV sites with hook-ups. We cannot personally recommend this site as we chose to stay on BLM land, however it does have excellent reviews.

Within Mammoth Lakes you have many other campsites. Mammoth Mountain RV Park is the nearest facility with hook-ups, showers, and flushable toilets. It is only a 16 minute drive from Rock Tub Hot Springs so is still a good nearby option. We booked in here for one night while staying in town to recharge our water and batteries and found it a little pricey but extremely well-managed.

Hot Tubbing Etiquette and Tips

Rock Tub Hot Springs and the other Mammoth Lakes hot springs are cherished by locals and visitors alike. They continue to remain open to the public and are ungoverned based on the collective cooperation of visitors. Please be sure to read the following section carefully and help do your part to protect these natural wonders.

Nudity

You will find that all the hot springs in the area are considered “clothing optional”. It is, therefore, likely that you will encounter other visitors enjoying the tubs in the nude.

While you can absolutely elect to wear a swimsuit, there is something special about experiencing these hot springs in your birthday suit and connecting with nature!

You will find that most people that choose to soak in the nude are respectful and discreet. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re visiting with kids or are uncomfortable with nudity.

Leave No Trace

Please follow all leave no trace principles. Leave the hot tubs as good as you found them… if not better! Local volunteers and visitors will often scrub the tubs and clear trash as they are not officially maintained. When we visited Rock Tub, a scrubbing brush and net had been left on the side and the kids that were in the pool before us had done a great job of removing a lot of algae. If children can help preserve these natural wonders, so can us adults!

Pack out what you pack in. There are no waste collection services so please take all of your trash with you.

Do not bring any glass containers to the springs! With so many rocks around, glass is easily broken and, with even the most thorough clean up, shards are likely to remain which will inevitably end up with someone being injured.

Finally, the meadow area surrounding Rock Tub Hot Springs is a fragile environment. Please stick to the trails and don’t venture off-trail into the surrounding meadows.

Bugs

While we didn’t experience any mosquitoes at Rock Tub Hot Springs, we did encounter some aggressive ones elsewhere in the area just after sunset in the summer. There are also fire ants around Rock Tub (which I found out after one bit my bum while I was sat on the ground petting a dog!).

Chemical insect repellants are not recommended as they will pollute the water source! Additionally, they will simply rinse off once you’re in the water. 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 or during other times of the day you are far less likely to encounter any pesky bugs.

Hydration

You will be soaking in 100-110°F (38-43°c) water and can easily become dehydrated without noticing. So while we highly recommend taking a few canned beers with you to the tub to enjoy at sunset, do not forget to also take plenty of water with you! It is recommended to take a gallon of water per person.

Altitude

Rock Tub Hot Springs is located at an elevation of7,000 ft (2,134 m). While altitude sickness doesn’t typically have an 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 in the first few days after you arrive. This will typically pass within a couple of days. It is, however, worth keeping in mind that the heat of the pool coupled with the higher elevation can cause you to feel dizzy sooner than you may expect.

Packing

You don’t need to bring too much with you to enjoy Rock Tub 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 Mammoth Lakes hot springs are for soaking, NOT for bathing. They are located within a delicate environment and the water from the pools feeds into this. Therefore, please do not use soaps in Rock Tub Hot Springs or any other of the local springs. Similarly, rinse off any insect repellant or chemical lotions before entering the pools to help protect the environment. If you are visiting in the summer and need to use sunscreen, be sure to use an ecofriendly option.

Cell Service

The cell service in the area is extremely limited. Depending on your cell provider, you may get lucky and pick up some service, but be prepared to be without it and download offline maps to ensure you can get about with ease.

Other Hot Springs and Local Destinations

Wild Willy's is one of the many other hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.
Wild Willy’s is one of the many other hot springs in Mammoth Lakes.

If you’re looking to explore more of the local springs, we highly recommend that you check out our thorough guide to the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes. We detail all the hot springs in the area and how to get to them so you don’t miss any!

You may also be interested in our other regional guides:

Other Mammoth Lakes Hot Springs guides

Other things to do nearby

Yosemite National Park guides

Final Thoughts

There is no better way to end a day in Mammoth Lakes than with a visit to Rock Tub Hot Springs, as seen in this photo.
There is no better way to end a day in Mammoth Lakes than with a visit to Rock Tub Hot Springs.

If you have read this far, you have learned everything you need to know for visiting The Rock Tub Hot Springs!  We hope you have an amazing, enriching time during your visit.  More than anything, we hope you leave it as good or better than you found it for future visitors.

Should you have discovered anything to be inaccurate or out of date following a visit of your own, please let us know in the comments below.  Your feedback is always appreciated whether that be constructive criticism, positive reinforcement, or anything in between.

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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.**