Up and down the Eastern Sierra corridor near June Lake, California, lie hot springs just waiting to be discovered. From the mountain meadows off the beaten path to spring fed creeks where the water tastes as nature intended, there is no shortage of opportunity to discover the area hot springs. Here’s some useful information on a few of the area hot springs that June Lake vacationers can enjoy.
To say that the Sierra Nevada is geologically active would be somewhat of an understatement. Though we may not see violent upheavals or volcanic explosions, the evidence of geologic activity is abundant. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the active hot springs that have cropped up on the East side of the Sierra range near June Lake, and all you need is to know where to look and a swim suit.
From Crowley Lake to the South of June Lake, and up towards Bridgeport to the North, there are literally dozens of active geothermal areas. In fact, just outside the town of Mammoth Lakes is a working geothermal plant which harnesses the earth’s power into a viable source of clean energy. This is because an area of active geology called a caldera is churning melted rock not far below the Earth’s surface. Although this may sound intimidating, people have been enjoying these area hot springs for many years.
Benton Crossing Road (at the green church) and Whitmore Tubs Road are all located on the East side of Hwy 395 south of June Lake approximately 20 miles, or just about 3 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Turn left at the green church.
Directions: Take HWY 395 south to Benton Crossing Road. Turn left at the green church and go about 3 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.
The hot springs at Benton are perhaps the purest hot springs in the world. Visitors can relax in one of nine tubs. Each is equipped with hot and cold taps so you can easily control the water temperature. Four tubs are antique redwood, two are fiberglass and the last is made of stone. Tubs are located under the shade of Cottonwood trees, in a lovely oasis type setting. Reservations suggested. Directions: From Mammoth, follow 395 south to Benton Crossing Road. Turn right on highway 120 to Benton. From Lee Vining and north, take highway 120 east to Benton.
Hilltop Hot Springs has some of the best views of the area. Located only a short distance from Mammoth Lakes, the hot spring is quite popular so don’t be surprised if you have to share a tub with someone else. Hilltop is located on the west side of Benton Crossing Road and is open to the public. Directions: From US 395, take Benton Crossing Road (also known as Green Church Road) 2.7 miles until you see the Hot Springs on the west side of the road.
Also known as “Crowley Hot Springs,” Wild Willy’s is located just a few miles from Mammoth Lakes. This hot spring is a bit more natural. Directions: From US 395, take Benton Crossing Road (also known as Green Church Road). Travel east about 2.5 miles until you cross two cattle guards. Turn right just past the second cattle guard and follow the road, always taking the left fork whenever there’s a choice. About a mile down, you’ll reach a parking area where there’s a sign and wooden boardwalk that leads about 200 yards away to the pools. Please use caution when traveling to and soaking in the hot springs. Please remember to practice leave-no-trace. It’s also best to bring beverages in aluminum cans, no glass. If there is a valve controlling the water, please remember to turn it off before leaving so the tub does not overheat for the next visitor.
Travertine Hot Spring lies on California State Park land just south of the town of Bridgeport along Route 395. It is one of the easiest hot springs to get to and features a stunning view of the Sierras while you bathe. All types of people visit Travertine, including the nearby park rangers, campers, families, couples, and single travelers. Limited camping space is available on the short dirt road leading to the hot springs, but is not allowed in the immediate area of the pools. Directions: Take Route 395 south of Bridgeport half a mile. Turn left at Jack Sawyer Road, just before the Ranger Station. Follow Jack Sawyer Road approximately one mile. Road may close or be difficult to travel on with snow.
Located in the Toiyabe National Forest, just north of Bridgeport and on the edge of Yosemite National Park Buckeye features pools next to an adjacent babbling brook, very soothing to the senses and frayed nerves. The hot mineral water cascades over a cave. Troglodytes and kids will enjoy soaking in the cave, while others will be content in the outer pools adjacent to the stream. The majority of bathers are campers, thanks to the nearby campground. Directions: To get to Buckeye from the northern end of Bridgeport, turn off of Route 395, turn west on Twin Lakes Road and travel seven miles. Turn right just past Doc and Al’s Resort, then cross the bridge going over the creek. Continue uphill along a gravel road, past Buckeye Campground. At the top of the hill you’ll find a parking area. The springs are down the trail from the parking lot. Closed in the winter.