Want to soak in beautiful natural hot springs surrounded by scenic alpine views? Then you MUST head to the Mammoth Lake area and enjoy some of the most primitive hot springs in the US, the Whitmore Hot Springs.
Along the eastern side of Sierra Nevada Mountains, a few miles from the city of Mammoth Lakes, you will have the chance to visit some of the best and most primitive hot springs in California: they are the result of an ancient volcano’s explosion, some 760,000 years ago, and mostly concentrate in the area between Bridgeport and Mammoth Lakes itself.
Whitmore Hot Springs
They are located in the Long Valley Caldera, 20 minutes south-east to Mammoth Lakes and are surrounded by the Inyo National Forrest, in California’s Eastern Sierra.
You can reach them travelling along Route 395 and then following the Whitmore Tubs Road. You will find 6 or 7 hot spring tubs over a course of few miles.
The natural context of the Whitmore Hot Springs is astonishing.
Imagine to be in the middle of nothing but nature in all its different forms.
They are located in a rather desert and pristine valley, surrounded by alpine mountains. They blend in with an almost lunar landscape, giving you a direct contact with nature.
One of their main and best features is that they are free and not commercial at all.
Usually volunteers take care of them, there are no special signs or business premises indicating their presence and often there are no facilities around the tubs, such as bathrooms or trash cans.
In some cases, the springs have been enclosed in concrete and rock tubs of various sizes.
Some of them are very small and can host just one person or a couple at a time, others are bigger and welcome more people. They can have taps to regulate water’s temperature which can vary and be really hot. So, be careful!
We list here the most famous Whitmore Hot Spring Tubs, where you can soak your body while feeding your spirit with incredible views and quiet surroundings.
1. Hilltop Hot Springs
Here you will find just one pool to accomodate four to six people. It is very popular being easy to get to. You will enjoy a breathtaking open view over the Sierra Nevada mountains.
2. Crab Cooker Hot Springs
This tub is not easy to reach and it is not easy to park there. There is only one pool that accomodate no more than 6 people. There are taps to regulate the water temperature.
3. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs
Surrounded by an incredible backdrop and sagebrushes, they include 2 pools (a bigger one and a smaller one), that can be reached through a boardwalk from the car park.
4. Rock Tub Hot Spring
It is popular and often crowded and can accomodate 6 to 8 people. Its water is hot, reaching over 100°, and you cannot adjust it.
5. Shepherd Hot Springs
This pool is easy to reach by car, that’s why it is popular and often crowded, but it is worthy the wait. The water can be very hot, but can be regulated.
6. Little Hot Creek
This pool, a bit difficult to reach, is located in a small and isolated valley within a wonderful landscape. Water temperature is nicely regulated. It is better to have a SUV to get there.
Other Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes
Hot Creek, close to Mammoth Airport, is an incredible hot spring within a cold stream surrounded by rocks and mountains all around; the effect of hot bubbles and cold water on your body is amazing. The spring can be very hot, so be careful. Recently the place has been closed for volcanic activity.
Travertine Hot Springs (Bridgeport Valley) consist of a group of 5 pools immersed in a wonderful natural context. Easy to reach, they are quite popular.
Benton Hot Springs and Keough Hot Springs are more structured and organized pools, offering the possibilities to lodge nearby.
– The hot springs are often connected by dirt roads that may be muddy or extremely rough, and you may need 4×4 to drive there.
– In winter, routes and mountain passes can be closed.
– Local people are friendly, but they actually do not like much that the hot springs are overly hyped. We suggest a sort of code of behavior in attending the hot spring tubs.
– There are both “closed, private” tubs (smaller) and “open” ones (bigger), be discrete in entering occupied small hot springs and choose rather the bigger ones, or wait until they are free.
– Do not park or camp too close to the pools.
Keep the pools clean after yourself and be respectful with the environment.
Accomodation in Mammoth Lakes
You can choose the best accomodation according to your tastes and needs.
Being an area of natural parks, if you like an adventurous way or you are travelling in your RV, there are some campgrounds and RV parks around.
If you prefer or if you have to sleep in a hotel, there are many options in Mammoth Lakes or along Route 395 to suit every taste: from luxury resorts to cozy châteaux, including motels and hotel chains. Check out our best hotels in the area: click on the button below or use the check availability box on the right side of this page.
Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes
Beside the experience of lying in the hot mineral waters and relaxing among the mountains, the incredible natural and wild environment of Mammoth Lakes surroundings offers many opportunities, both in summer and in winter.
During the summer you can enjoy the landscape through activities such as hiking, sightseeing, biking, rock climbing, camping and golfing. This area is dotted with many alpine lakes where it is possible to practice many sports: canoying and kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and fishing.
During the winter this is an amazing place for skiing and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice climbing.
Being a wild environment, you have to be always careful and behave properly since you can see wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, deer, raccoons and wolves. Rangers are there to help you and give advice.