Looking for somewhere to cool off? This ain't it. Looking to immerse yourself in majestic mountain views? Soak up natural healing waters? Paint yourself in mineral rich mud? Then throw on your suit and head to the natural hot springs off of Bentron Crossing.
Located along Long Valley just south of town are a series of popular natural hot springs which are a hoot to visit and offer therapeutic waters & mud, breathtaking views, and some pretty good people watching, too (at the more crowded springs, anyway).
Be aware before setting out that these springs are all located on dirt roads -- some of them are pretty rough and narrow. If you have a 4WD, bring it. That said, I've never had to use 4WD to get to or from any of the springs, though the roads have at least been dry when I drove them.
Our most recent visit was on a hot July afternoon, when a surprisingly high number of people were enjoying hot springs in record hot temps.
You can plan this as a short outing, or longer if you hit more than one spring or spend lots of time hanging out at just one. The last time we went, we did the "Springs Crawl" and went to three in one day. Even so, it only took a few hours -- but we didn't linger for more than 45 minutes in any of them.
Many people bring snacks and drinks, and enjoy a longer visit. Make sure that if you visit, you remember that these are actually very hot pools-- some of them in the 115 degree range or even more. Use the same cautions you would with the very young, very old or those who are pregnant, have health conditions, etc.
Wild Willie's -- Largest and Most Accessible
The largest of the springs, Wild Willie's, is on a fairly well-maintained dirt road with a large parking lot and long boardwalk that leads to the springs. If you are nervous about driving off-road or don't have 4WD, this is probably your best bet.
From the Green Church (corner of 395 and Benton Crossing) follow Benton Crossing for 1.1 mile and take a right onto the dirt road. Follow that dirt road for 1.2 miles to reach the parking lot. From the parking lot you will still need to walk about 300 yards to the pools. The last portion of this walk is slightly downhill.
At Wild Willy's there are several very large pools, plus a few smaller ones dotted around the landscape. Even though this spot is very popular, there is usually plenty of room for all the visitors for have space-- even on a busy day. In my experience, these pools are pretty social, with lots of chatting and interaction between visitors. If you're looking romance, this probably ain't it.
In recent years, this spot has been littered with rubbish and waste that guests have brought in and discarded on the landscape. Please be a good community member, and carry out anything you carry in.
Crab Cooker -- Remote and Private-ish
To reach the Crab Cooker, turn onto Benton Crossing from the Green Church and follow it past the turnoff to Willie's. Go another 1/3 - 1/5 mile and take a left onto a dirt road. Follow that dirt road til you reach the parking lot. From the parking lot, head down the path to the right, slightly downhill to the pool.
This pool is improved, in that it has a concrete bottom and walls. No mud bottom means it is less 'messy' than Willie's but also much smaller and only has 1 pool.
What to bring/wear/do:
What not to do:
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Mary Beth is the owner of Adventure Refined, where she offers true luxury Mammoth Lakes homes to guests. In her spare time she runs a ranch, loves a test pilot, and raises 4 boys & a 4 spoiled rotten dogs.