Finding Hot Springs in the Eastern Sierras
I am obsessed with hot springs. It’s common knowledge to just about everyone who knows me in real life or follows me on Instagram.
When I was offered free lift tickets to Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe, the first thing I did was google whether there were hot springs in the area. (The free tickets were a gift for completing a campaign with Supergoop, the official sunscreen brand of Vail Resorts – in case you were wondering :D)
To my absolute joy I found not just 1 hot spring in the area, but I jotted down almost fifteen different hot springs all located within reasonable driving distance of Lake Tahoe. (Disclaimer: “reasonable” to me is anything less than 4 hours. Yes, I am crazy.)
So, that was all I needed to make my decision. The flights were booked within minutes.
First of all, I knew that finding these hot springs wasn’t going to be easy as I had zero prior knowledge of this part of California. The Eastern Sierra mountains are stunningly beautiful and the fact that you can get mountains, beaches AND hot springs in one trip makes this area pretty much unbeatable in my eyes.
The Drive to the Hot Springs
“What time should we set our alarms?”
“Sunrise is at 6:30am… the drive is about 3 hours… so 3am?”
I feel ridiculously blessed that this conversation happened and nobody in the room even batted at eyelid. It wasn’t like I was particularly overexcited to leave my super comfy bed at The Landing Resort and Spa, but it needed to be done.
Our friends had just driven 4.5 hours from San Francisco to join us in Lake Tahoe for a measly 3 hours of sleep before we all got up to do another 3 hours of driving.
Instead of snoozing on the way there, the drive was filled with laughter, stories and excitement for the adventure that was about to unfold.
3 hours in a car with the right people feels like the blink of an eye… even while running on 3 hours of sleep. Find yourself friends that love adventure and you will (almost) never ever regret it (unless you really, REALLY love your sleep).
The Hot Springs
Contrary to what you might think, getting up for the hot springs journey was the easy part. Actually locating them was more difficult. Thank GOD for our friend Nicole (@donutworry___ on IG) for being the most organized and efficient planner I have ever had the pleasure of exploring with.
To sum up our off-roading + splashing through puddles + avoiding potholes-filled journey: Benton Crossing Road is where you’ll find a ridiculous number of hot springs.
There are 6 fairly well known springs located in this area: Wild Willy’s (or Crowley), Crab Cooker, Hilltop, Shepherds, Hot Creek and The Tub. Due to time constraints, we managed to find 5 out of the 6 and we couldn’t have been happier about it.
Only have time for one or two? Here are our thoughts on each of the pools:
–Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (aka Crowley Hot Springs): PERFECTION. 5/5
–Crab Cooker Hot Spring: ALSO PERFECTION. 5/5
–Shepherds: WHY SO HOT?! Half of us couldn’t even get in properly. I was alright because apparently I’m Satan and enjoy soaking in the hot springs equivalent of Hell. 2.5/5 (because only half of us enjoyed it)
-Hot Creek: You can’t or shouldn’t swim here. It’s literally what it sounds like… a creek bed with boiling steaming hot water. Take your pics and move on. 1/5
-The Tub: I don’t think we found the right “tub” – this one was lukewarm and way too small. I don’t think you’re supposed to be shivering in a hot spring. 1/5
By the time we were done soaking at 11am we had officially been up for 8 hours and we were all still buzzing. In conclusion, I LOVE MY FRIENDS.
Finally, two more stops that we needed to make that were absolutely necessary:
1. Convict Lake. The drive up to the lake is almost as incredible as the lake itself and that’s saying a lot. If you’re in the area, make sure you stop here. It’s one of the most picturesque lakes I’ve seen and I was born in Banff.
2. The ‘Latin Market’ in Mammoth for the best breakfast I’ve ever had… CHILAQUILES (think Mexican breakfast poutine!!). Why don’t we get good Mexican food in Canada? It’s so unfair.
wow this looks breath taking!! My husband and I are going to NZ on our honeymoon in a few months and will be doing the hot springs there- Can’t wait!
These pics make it look like such a fun place! I wanna go so bad!
Enjoyed so much reading your article . Love to see some beautiful pictures also , look so pretty.
Made , Bali Island
This is amazing. I seen another post about Whistler. We went to Whistler in January.
This looks so amazing! We have hot springs sort of nearby in Arkansas but it looks nothing like this. What a beautiful view!! I’m adding this to my travel bucket list.
I can’t believe you didn’t stop at Travertine and Buckeye hot springs (they would have been between lake Tahoe and mammoth. next time you should
Gah it was such a short trip that we didn’t have time! Hopefully we’ll get back to the area in the not too distant future and can pay them a visit! Thanks for the tips!
Hi Robin, amazing article!! Thank you! How long was your trip? I’m planning a long weekend and figuring out how much I could do in different periods of time.
Hi Robin, amazing article!! Thank you! How long was your trip? I’m planning a long weekend and figuring out how much I could do in different periods of time. Thank you!