Neighboring Hot Spring Sites
(Near Mammoth Lakes, CA)
Plumes of steam from volcanic hot water rises along Hot Creek.
This site is located only 3 miles off of US 395.
The area of Mammoth Mountain is "geologically active" with the areas east and northeast of Mammoth Mountain having numerous hot springs. An early morning drive into the remote backlands north of the Mammoth Airport will reveal numerous pillars of steam rising from remote areas of the Long Valley floor. Many of these hot springs are unimproved, simply left to the amusement of grazing cattle. A couple have been commercially improved; with about a half dozen others on Inyo National Forest land having been noncommercially improved by volunteers.
Pictured above, Hot Creek is by far the most scenic and interesting. Here hot spring water surfaces along and in the creek at a number of locations within a few hundred feet. At one area, shown by steam in the above photo, a very large amount of hot water constantly surfaces. Soaking in the water too near or below the steam is not recommended as the water temperature at this location can instantly change without notice. In recent times, 14 people here have been scalded to death and far more badly injured.
Hot Creek is also popular with fishermen, who catch and release upstream using nonbarb hooks. Walking along the stream's very clear water near the steam, one can see hundreds of small fishes. This hot springs is considered strictly textile; however, occasionally in the early and late twilight hours, quick skinny-dippers have been known to slip-in beyond the plumes pictured.
To reach this site, take U.S. 395 to the Mammoth Airport turnoff (aka: Hot Creek Road & Hot Creek Hatchery Road). Drive down Hot Creek Road a short distance until the road bears a sharp right turn. Take the turn and follow it about 2 1/2 miles to some improved parking adjacent a small building; the building holds restrooms and clothes changing. Total distance about 3 miles. (Once on Hot Creek Road from U.S. 395, there are signs leading the way to this geological site.)
Note: The roads leading to this site and those listed below may be closed during Winter due to snow.
A number of small of volunteer built hot spring pools are located within only minutes from one another near U.S. 395. All require travel over dirt or gravel roads to reach. All of the roads are in good condition and are easy to drive in dry conditions. Beware of Pulky's Pool which is in an Alkali area. After a heavy rain or snow, the ground can be deceivingly soft.
Directions to the Hot Springs
Pulky's Pool is the easiest to find. Heading north on U.S. 395, just before the Mammoth Airport, is a paved road called Benton Crossing Road; look for a very small aging church amist some trees and vegetation on the corner. Drive Benton Crossing about 2 1/2 miles. After crossing the second cattle guard in the roadway, the road immediately drops down a small hill. Near the bottom of the hill is a dirt (and alkali) road to the left. This is the first road to the left going down the hill. Take that road about 2/10ths of a mile; there the road splits. Go right about 1/10th of a mile and stop within the parking area designated by logs. From the parking area, Pulky's Pool is only a couple hundred feet north; do not try to drive up to the pool itself. The soft ground beyond the designated parking area will not likely support your vehicle. The soil mixed with an underlayer of seeping spring water makes an effective trap. This concrete tub can hold about 8.
Crowley Hot Springs is also very easy to find. Just follow the same directions above for Pulky's Pool but turn right immediately after the second roadway cattle guard (don't drive down the hill). Travel the dirt road about 1 mile to a large rock and go right; thereafter is a fork in the road, go left to the nearby parking lot. Walk the trail's wooden platform walkway and then approximately 500 feet more. The hot springs is now to the left (northward) a couple hundred feet down the very shallow hill.
Hot Tub is a favorite. This pool can accommodate about five people comfortably. This pool is a favorite with campers who can park over night nearby. This pool and that of Shepherd Hot Springs is also great for those physically handicapped as vehicles can be driven right up next to it. However, unless there is a need, please be considerate and do not park too close and ruin the ambiance of the natural settings for others. To reach this site, from Benton Crossing Road take Whitmore Tubs Road (there is a small road sign on Benton Crossing identifying Whitmore Tubs Road). Drive Whitmore Tubs to the second dirt road on the right (about 1.1 miles). Turn right onto it and drive about 1/10th of a mile directly to the hot springs which will be on the left side. Campers usually park a little beyond the hot springs. Caution on driving past the hot springs; overflow water from the hot spring pool runs across the road which can be soft even in dry weather.
Shepherd Hot Springs is trickier to find. This is a smaller pool; not as well maintained; and not recommended unless you are exploring. To reach it from Benton Crossing Road, take Whitmore Tubs Road for approximately 2.6 miles to a small dirt turnoff on the right. Take the turnoff and drive straight ahead for about 1/2 mile to an intersection with another road (if you have driven too far, the road starts to turn clockwise to the Crab Cooker). At the intersection, turn left and drive the road clockwise to the hot pool.
Crab Cooker is a very tiny pool which at last inspection was not operational. Therefore it is not recommended. However to reach it, follow the directions above and as the road turns clockwise, ignore the intersecting roads and continue to drive in a clockwise motion.
Lil' Hot Creek has several routes for access. As the WANR has not recently inspected this site, directions to it will not be given.
Whitmore Hot Springs (Commercial), only a 1/4 mile from U.S. 395 on Benton Crossing Road, has a large pool, concrete decking, changing rooms as well as rest rooms. Open during the summer for only a few hours in the afternoon, the fee is about $6/adults.
Weather report for the Mammoth Lakes area
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