There are several active natural hot springs near Mammoth Lakes, California, which are the ideal place to unwind for travelers passing through HWY 395. Whether you're looking to decompress after a long day of skiing or you're camping in the area, these hot springs are a must-see!
Personally, I regret not visiting the Mammoth Lakes area sooner; we first passed through on our way to the Alabama Hills for a camping trip. We started off our HWY 395 road trip by exploring and soaking in the natural hot springs, and now that we've been to the area several times, we always make a point of stopping and checking out a new hot spring while we're there!
Each natural hot spring has its own unique qualities, but the one thing they all have in common, is that they are surrounded by California's most impressive mountain ranges. Soaking in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas, provides an experience of natural beauty and relaxation, that no spa could ever replicate.
How were the Hot Springs formed?
The Mammoth Lakes area sits above one of the largest supervolcano systems in the entire world.
Mammoth Lakes is located in the Long Valley Caldera, which was formed 760,000 years ago by a major volcanic eruption. If you are looking for a volcanic crater hike before soaking in the hot springs, you might consider hiking the Inyo Craters.
Today, heat from magma near the surface is boiling groundwater in the Mammoth Lakes area, resulting in the formation of these active natural hot springs we now enjoy.
We also see this same result in Yellowstone, Wyoming, which is also known for their incredible natural hot springs.
Can you Soak in the Hot Springs?
Yes, the hot springs listed below you are able to soak in. The average temperatures of hot springs in this area range from 95°-105° degrees. There are some hot springs that have been shut down because the temperature has increased so much that it has become unsafe for humans. Check out the bonus hot springs, Hot Creek Geological Site, which also worth visiting but you can't soak in.
Best Time of Year to Visit the Hot Springs?
There are a few factors to keep in mind when planning your trip to visit the Mammoth Lakes hot springs. Some of the roads leading to the hot springs in the area may require a high clearance vehicle, or 4WD in particular during the snow season. Although the summer time might sound appealing, it does draw in large crowds from campers and tourists, and also attracts many bugs when the weather is hot. Plus, it's not as comfortable soaking in warm weather!
The best times to visit the natural hot springs are Fall - Spring, when the temperatures are cold and the hot springs are a polarizing hot temp for soaking.
We camped out in the Fall time and personally this was an incredible time to soak! There was less crowds than anytime we have been before, and we had gorgeous views of a little bit of dusting of snow on the mountains. Beware that some roads may be closed in the Winter time, and you may need to hike in!
Where to Stay in Mammoth Lakes?
I recommend booking your hotels far in advance for Mammoth, especially in the Fall and Winter time! The fall foliage and ski season is a big draw for people coming to visit and accommodations book out far in advance.
Best Hotels in the Area:
Hot Springs Leave No Trace Principals
Before you plan your trip to the hot springs you must be aware of how to best respect the land and proper etiquette for soaking. See my blog on Leave No Trace principles and hot springs tips.
Do not leave any trash & Leave better than you found it!
Wear Reef Safe Sunscreen (Yes, even in natural water!)
Don't bring glass (See my favorite insulated tumbler!)
List of Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes, California
Travertine Hot Springs
The Travertine Hot Springs are located in Bridgeport, California with several springs varying in water temperature. There are 4 different pools at Travertine Hot Springs, one is closer to the parking lot while the three others are clumped just about a five minute walking distance down the trail.
Buckeye Hot Springs
This is my favorite hot spring off of HWY 395, and it happens to be one of the closest natural hot springs to Sacramento. You'll need to walk down the mountainside trail to get to the hot spring located along the creek. This is a rather large pool and naturally very beautiful with the hot spring water cascading over a large section of hillside into the pools.
Although the main pool is down below, there are several smaller pools at the top near the parking lot, which we totally missed the first time we visited! These hidden pools are hanging over the cliffside with spectacular views of the mountains. Although these pools are not as hot in temperature, the views are seriously incredible and many people are not aware that they even exist! To find these pools at the top, walk towards the right hand side of the parking lot and they are slightly down below.
In the winter time, the roads are not plowed, and you will need 4WD to access.
Wild Willy's Hot Spring
This is most definitely the most popular hot spring in Mammoth, due to its large size and accessibility to several pools. It can accommodate more people than most other natural hot springs in the area, and has a uniquely shaped Heart hot spring!
You might see people camping out at this hot spring, which usually results in people soaking at all hours during the day. Although when we went in the winter, there was only a few people mid-day, since Sunrise and Sunset hours tend to be the most crowded times.
Hilltop Hot Springs / Pulkey's Pool
Hill Top Hot Spring, also known as Pulky's Pool, is another hot spring located in the south Mammoth Lakes area. The pool is approximately 2 feet deep and can accommodate 8 people. This is a man made concrete tub, with a valve to allow soakers to control the hot water pumping into the springs.
The Rock Tub Hot Springs
This small tub is constructed into a rocky hill and is accessible through a dirt path and a short walk from the parking area. If you bring your own tent, there is also space for camping. This hot spring is on the cool side, so it's best to come during the summer.
Crab Cooker Hot Springs
This is one of my favorite hot springs in this little grouping of hot springs near Mammoth. This concrete tub can comfortably fit up to 4+ people, and has a valve to control the temperature of the tub and flow of water. You may read some reviews that it is empty or not hot, but make sure to test the valve to allow hot water in! If you are feeling extra generous you may even scrub it clean, but allow a few hours to get the pool filled up again.
Waves of people come and go to all the hot springs in the area, but its especially nice when you get a moment to soak by yourself! Plus, the views of the Sierra Nevada mountains from the hot springs is such a picturesque moment.
Shepherd Hot Springs
It's a bit of a rugged road, so a 4x4 or SUV is recommended, but it's well worth it. This one is ideal for 1-2 people but can accommodate 4 -6 people if you're a social butterfly. Depending on where the valve is left on, the temperature ranges from 99 to 114 degrees. Before you plunge in, make sure you've tested the temperature.
Benton Hot Springs
There are 12 hot tub sites at Benton Hot Springs, all of which are fed by natural hot spring water. Benton Hot Springs are by reservation only, although they are of exceptional quality. The water in the bath tub is emptied and cleaned every time the visitors change, ensuring that it is exceedingly clean. Each camp site is adequately isolated from the others, and dividers provide some privacy.
Keogh Hot Springs
The Keough's Hot Springs' man made pools were built in 1919 and are still in use today. Day passes to visit the hot springs cost $12, or $85 for a monthly pass. There are two large pools on the private property which are kept at a comfortable temperature of 86–89 degrees in the summer and 90–92 degrees in the winter. The pools are emptied, cleaned, and refilled once a week. Both pools are free-flowing, meaning that fresh mineral water flows continuously throughout the day. Relax and sunbathe on the lounge chairs that line the pool's perimeter. There are locker rooms and restrooms on site.
Bonus: Hot Creek Geological Site
Although you can no longer soak in these hot springs, which people used to do before they were closed to the public in 2006. The water temperature has become too hot to bath in due to the geothermal activity, yet it is still one of Mammoth Lakes' most picturesque locations.
I hope you enjoyed this in depth guide to finding hot springs near Mammoth Lakes, California! Please make sure to pin, save or share to access later.