Sitting around in hot water with a bunch of strangers
is an age-old tradition in the Eastern Sierra. People
talk of wild things down at Hot Creek in the 60's and
70's. Well, the Hot Creek area is now closed for swimming and soaking, and folks are cited for jumping the fence, but there are a number
of other natural and man-assisted hot tubs in the valley
below Mammoth. Some are well-known and some aren't.
We will tell you about the well-known ones and let you
find out about the others on your own. Most are small,
so when 50 people show up it isn't as much fun. Hint
almost all of the tubs are described in a guide
book, so they aren't really hidden or secret. But we
like to maintain that illusion.
We ought to mention one thing, first you can
hot tub in rocks, or in redwood. If a freshly cleaned
redwood tub filled with hot mineral water sounds nice
an affordable luxury check out the hot
tubs at the Old House at Benton, outside Bishop.
Hot Tub Etiquette
Yes, you can get a ticket for tubbing naked. But most
of the hot tubs are isolated and private, so most people
don't wear anything while bathing. Some of the tubs,
like Hilltop, are popular, and considered open, whether
occupied or not. Some are considered private spots and
if occupied, you might want to wait your turn. Usually
your intuition will guide you properly. If you don't
feel comfortable taking it off in front of others, don't.
If you do, and it feels okay, do. Just be nice, considerate,
and circumspect. There is nothing better for the soul
than to lie naked by yourself in a natural hot tub surrounded
by the aura of nature. Please take care of the tubs
and take your trash out with you. There are several
anonymous locals who spend a lot of time keeping the
tubs clean and functioning for all of us. Help them
This is probably the best known, most popular tub site.
Accessible in the winter by walking 300 yards, in the
summer you can drive almost right up to the tub. This
tub isn't private. If you are in it, expect company.
The tub is about seven feet in diameter and about two
feet deep, man-made, fed by a nearby hot water source.
Probably the best view in the valley, you sit on a small
hilltop with a 360 degree view of THE WORLD. You will
run into a lot of locals and a lot of tourists here.
Take HWY 395 south to Benton Crossing Road. Turn left
at the green church and go about 2.5 miles, past two
cattle guard crossings. Just past the second cattle
guard, you will go down a moderate hill. At the bottom
of the hill, turn left onto a dirt road and follow it,
staying to the right, for about 300 yards to a well-marked
dirt parking area. The tub is just about 100 feet on
top of the small hill in front of you.
Another popular well-known site. This one has two man-made
sitting areas on different branches of a natural creek,
so if one is occupied and you are shy, use the other.
The views aren't as nice as Hilltop, but so what. To
get there, drive towards Hilltop as noted above, but
just past the second cattle guard, turn right on the
dirt road. Follow it for about a mile, staying to the
left, until you reach a well-marked parking area. Then,
on foot, follow the obvious trail for about 200 yards
to the tubs. This also is not regarded as private, and
you may have company at times.
This is called the Crab Cooker because it sometimes
is hot enough to do just that. This is more of a private
tub most people won't approach when they see
it occupied. Smaller and shallow, and sometimes not
working well, but a nice place when it is. You will
need a map to find it, so get the guide book. Take Benton
Crossing Road again, but turn left at the wide dirt
road just past the baseball fields, follow that dirt
road for about a mile. The tubs are along one of the
dirt roads off the right side. Follow one or the other
until you find it. There are actually several in this
area, some good and most not. You have found the Crab
Cooker when you find one at the END of a dirt road in
a small valley.
Enjoy a dip in the Eastern Sierra's largest natural
hot springs pool. Six hundred gallons of 127 degree
water flows from the ground each minute. Locals and
tourists alike are invited to swim, play and relax in
the friendly surroundings. There is a snack bar, picnic
area and Rock Gardens. There is also a unique gift and
swim shop, featuring bath and body, kids toys, gifts,
water workout gear, swimsuits and home and garden decor.
Therapeutic massage is available, as well as camping
and lodging facilities.