Eastern California has fun activities to try during every season, including visiting the hot springs closest to Mammoth Lakes. Yosemite National Park is only 40 miles from Mammoth Mountain, meaning it’s possible to visit both places in one day.
These steamy natural baths are a treat during cooler months, providing a relaxing, cozy place to warm up. Since Mammoth Lakes is also a snowsports town, the roads to the hot springs can be more challenging to get to in winter weather.
For this reason, the best time of year to visit them is spring through fall, when the mornings are cool but not too frigid to be wet outside. However, some thermal water locations are commercialized and convenient during those frosty months.
During the summer, when hiking and biking are popular in the area, thermal waters are ideal for soaking sore muscles in a picturesque environment. Visitors to Yosemite shouldn’t miss a chance to soak in one of these Californian hot springs known to be some of the best in the state and easily reachable from the park. Many areas with hot springs also offer campsites for outdoors enthusiasts.
In order of proximity, here are the hot springs nearest to Mammoth Lakes, CA:
Hilltop Hot Springs – 12.5 miles | 15 minutes
Hilltop Hot Springs, also known as “Pulkey’s Pool”, is one of Mammoth Lake’s nearby spring pools popular with locals and tourists. The tub is a manufactured structure filled with natural thermal water using pipes to carry it from the hot creek in the area. Visitors can control the water temperature using a valve next to the pool, which can be adjusted to 100-110℉.
Even though this bath is situated in a remote area, it’s in high demand and gets crowded most days throughout the year.
Clothing is optional when using Pulkey’s Pool. It comfortably sits six to eight people and doesn’t cost anything to use. There’s a short hike required to reach the water, but the road and parking lot are suitable for any vehicle.
Nearby Mammoth Lakes has plenty of accommodations for visitors that want to stay somewhere with a bed, bathroom, and amenities. Spending the night is not allowed by the hot springs or in the meadowlands, but since a lot of the region is on public land, there is ample room for rural camping.
Shepherd Hot Springs – 12.5 miles | 25 minutes
Shepherd Hot Springs is set just a few miles east of Mammoth Lakes and is ideal for a day trip excursion. These natural thermal pools are small but have some of the most social media-worthy mountain scenery in the area’s hot springs locations.
The fact that it is free to use and uncontrolled by groups or privatized makes it particularly enticing to tourists as well as the residents who love it. Volunteers are responsible for maintaining the area, so be sure to pick up after yourself after visiting.
The hot springs water is collected in a concrete pool that fits about four people. This tub is one of the most pleasant for soaking in, despite not looking the most natural. It has seats built into the ledges and a valve to regulate the pool’s temperature.
The water is blistering hot at the source, 135°F (57°C), but it cools significantly by the time it reaches the pool. Getting to the springs can be done in any vehicle, but four-wheel drive is recommended.
Being so close to Mammoth Lakes, Shepherd Hot Springs has many nearby hotel options. Outdoor enthusiasts can also get their fix here, as there are plenty of areas for primitive camping near the water, but be aware that some spots like the parking lot and plains are off-limits.
There are signs to clarify which parts are not ok for camping, so make sure to look around before setting up. Travelers who prefer an amenities site can head to Brown’s Owens River Campground, about five miles away.
Rock Tub Hot Springs – 11 miles | 15 minutes
The Rock Tub Hot Springs, also called “Whitmore Hot Springs”, is another popular soaking place just a short distance from Mammoth Lakes. True to its name, this mineral bath is made of large rocks to form its parameter and is fed by a pipe that brings the hot water from the source about 150 feet away.
Unlike other nearby soaking pools, this one does not have an adjustable temperature valve. Despite that, it comes out of the ground at 120℉; by the time it reaches the tub, the water hovers around 90-100℉, making this site better for longer soaks.
The rock tub fits about six people comfortably and is backed by jaw-dropping vistas of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Even though this pool is clothing optional and seemingly very primitive, it is heavily trafficked by visitors. The parking lot is very close to the water and does not require much walking or hiking to get there.
Visitors that prefer a solid roof over their heads will have many accommodation options in Mammoth Lakes. Spending the night at the hot springs or in the meadowlands is not allowed, but there are plenty of other spots for dispersed camping. If travelers want to stay somewhere with amenities or RV hookups, the closest place is Brown’s Owns River Campground or the Mammoth Mountain RV Park.
Wild Willy’s Hot Springs – 14 miles | 25 minutes
Also referred to as “Crowley Hot Springs,” Wild Willy’s Hot Springs is a beautiful natural retreat with a stunning backdrop of the Sierra Mountains and Glass Mountain Ridge. There are two hot spring baths that look primitive but are actually reinforced with cement and hold temperatures ranging from 95 to 105℉.
The larger of the pools can fit about six people comfortably, while the second one is suitable for two soakers. Getting to the baths is a treat in itself, as after parking in the defined dirt lot, people get to walk a scenic .2 miles on a wooden deck that goes directly to the water.
The springs are free to use and open year-round, but the best time to visit is May to October. In the early summer mornings, the air is cooler, and the springs are an excellent place to watch a sunrise from.
The best hotel selection from here is in Mammoth Lakes, but those who want to camp can use any of the unmarked BLM lands. Two campgrounds are about 20 minutes away each, Brown’s Owens River Campground and Convict Lake Campground.
Benton Hot Springs – 42 miles | 45 minutes
Set in Benton, the Benton Hot Springs is a historic commercial property that features an authentic 1940s inn, house rentals, and campsites. There are private soaking tubs and communal ones, but every accommodation has a charming rustic theme with its features and amenities.
Guests staying at one of the recreational sites can pitch a tent or park an RV, and visitors to the inn have a beautifully landscaped area with a fountain to relax in. The water in all the tubs runs about 102℉, perfect for more extended soaks under the stars.
Guests can choose from one of Benton Hot Springs’ ten suites or five houses for furnished accommodations. There are also 12 camping sites with their own clothing-optional tubs, fire pit, and picnic table. Some areas are designed for two people, and others are for three, so book accordingly and ask which accommodation would best fit your party.
Keough’s Hot Springs – 50 miles | 50 minutes
The pools at Keough’s Hot Springs were founded in 1919 and are still one of Bishop’s most prized attractions today. There are two pools which are original structures. The largest one is 100 x 40 feet and is kept at 86-89℉ in summer and 90-92℉ in winter. The smaller, hotter pool is just 15 x 40 x 2 feet and maintains a cozy temperature of 104℉. They are fed by natural thermal waters infused with 27 minerals and come out of the Earth at a scorching 130℉.
Even though the water in the pools is free-flowing, they are emptied once a week and refilled. The facility can be rented out for birthday parties, or guests can book a water aerobics class for some swimming fun. Serious swimmers can take advantage of the lap lanes. Locals or long-term visitors to the area can purchase monthly, and multi-visit passes.
Several hotels and vacation homes are available in the town of Bishop and the surrounding areas. However, visitors that want to camp can use one of Keough’s Campground’s ten water/electric spots or several dry camping sites. The campground is within walking distance to the hot springs pools and can accommodate up to six people at each location. Also offered are rustic furnished tents for those who want extra comfort while on the go.
Travertine Hot Springs – 55 miles | 1 hour
Located just south of the town of Bridgeport, the Travertine Hot Springs are set off a remote road but a hotspot for tourism. Visitors come from near and far to soak in these small mineral pools that only slightly vary in temperature and boast a turquoise color. There are a couple of main baths and several smaller ones spread throughout the area. Additionally, there’s an ADA-accessible cement and man-made pool just by the parking lot.
This area can get frigid and snowy between October and April, making spring through early fall the best months to visit. There are no fees to use the pools, and clothing is optional. Go in the early hours on a weekday for the best chance to avoid seeing other crowds.
Bridgeport has some hotel selections, but Mammoth Lakes isn’t that far away if visiting on a day trip. The hot springs are on public land, which means that there is no cost or special permits to camp there. It also indicates there are no amenities outside of one public toilet, making this area ideal for RV campers. Also, during the winter, air temperatures go way below freezing, making it challenging to tent camp out here for at least half the year.
Buckeye Hot Springs – 65 miles | 1 hour 15 minutes
Buckeye Hot Springs is just outside Bridgeport and a haven for hot springs lovers. The two thermal pools maintain temperatures of about 100-110℉ and are naturally fed by a sizzling water source of about 135℉ that trickles down a rock wall. The rocky baths are shallow but deep enough for a casual soak sitting or lying down.
Adjacent to the hot springs is Buckeye Creek, which makes for a nice cold plunge and has a couple of mini-pools to soak in on a hot day. These springs are free to use, clothing-optional, and are set about 150-300 feet away from the parking area.
Bridgeport is a small town but has a few accommodations for non-campers. Visitors that want to spend the night in the great outdoors can use one of the 68 spots at Buckeye Campground, located a quarter of a mile from the hot springs. These sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Primitive camping is also widespread in the area but not allowed at the springs.
Even though Mammoth Lakes is renowned for its fresh powder and abundance of outdoor activities, soaking in hot springs could be the perfect way to end a busy day. Since many of these are just as frequently visited by locals, try heading out to them in the early day or evening for a sunset bath.