May also be known as Pulky’s Pool in hot springs books.
Hilltop is a new found favorite and one of the more scenic spots for a soaking tub in this region. Sitting out in the middle of a clearing, surrounded by marsh lands, this remote hot springs is a hike-in destination. No paved road, nor paved trail. The mountain and sky views from this tub are splendid, and if you time it perfect, you may have the place to yourself.
From US Highway 395 @ Benton Crossing Road – drive approximately 3 miles (passing dirt road Whitmore Tubs). Once you’ve crested a small hill, look for a gated dirt road on left, which leads a short ways, back through the sagebrush, to the parking area.
GPS coordinates: 37.6455, -118.8001
The dirt parking lot is adequate enough to handle a dozen vehicles, and this place is so well known, that it gets a fair amount of traffic at any time of year.
Rumor has it that Hilltop is one of the most visited hot springs near Mammoth Mountain; probably due to the proximity to the paved road. Cars and trucks, camper vans and RVs will be coming and going at all hours of the day and night. So consider yourself warned!
Gate and fence separate the parking from the trail, which leads a quarter mile (often over wooden plank boards) through alkali fields – out to the cement tub.
Only one, small makeshift bench next to the pool – and no tables, no seating, no facilities; Bring tarps, towels, ice chest and camp chairs (if you plan to stay a while).
Plastic PVC pipes and control valve adjust water flow and temperature. If the valve is left ON (wide open) overnight, the small tub will be too hot to soak in the following morning.
Camping options are pretty limited here. A small clearing for a tent, next to the parking lot; and one decent parking spot, large and private enough to call a camp site (at the dead end, past the parking).
The Eastern Sierra corridor of US Hwy 395 is far enough away that it cannot be heard from this spot.
BLM gate at the paved road entrance reads: road is closed seasonally – assuming you can walk in during snowy winter months.
Hilltop is one of several primitive hot springs in this immediate region. See Mammoth Hot Springs for more choices.
The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains run the length of US Highway 395, through most of the eastern side of California. Mammoth mountain is a volcano, so naturally hot springs come with the package. These hot tub destinations listed here are mostly part of the Long Valley Caldera, an ancient volcanic table land. North of Bishop and near the snow ski destination towns of June Lake and Mammoth, California in Mono County, California.
(This region is not to be confused with Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park, nor the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.)
Backroads Camping is allowed throughout Inyo National Forest, but there is private ranch lands mixed in w/ public lands. Respect property boundaries, and speed limits around gates and intersections.
Camp sites are not located next to the soaking tubs. A few may be within walking distance. Parking is often limited at these remote, public use hot pools. Total Escape TIP: Behind Lake Crowley: abundant, free camping – wide graded dirt roads (RV and passenger car suitable). Inyo National Forest Map is recommended.
Eastside of Highway 395
Casa Diablo Hot Springs near the Mammoth exit, is a location noted on most maps, but this seems to be the geothermal power plant for the region. If you are looking for hot springs tubs to soak in, you’ll need to get off the main drag for those beauties, way off the highway.
On to dirt roads
Inyo Forest Road #3S45
Hot Creek Hatchery Road
(near Mammoth Airport)
Minimal dirt road driving. A very popular spot where hot springs are located within the big creek, so you can feel cold and hot water flowing by you. Scalding can occur near vents underwater, so use caution when wading. Large parking lot overlooks the soaking area and creek canyon. Swimsuits required.
Benton Crossing Road
leads east, around Lake Crowley, to the small town and camping resort and inn of Benton Hot Springs
Inyo Forest Road #2S84
Benton Crossing Road
This rural intersection at US Hwy 395 is known for the little green church on the corner. Turn east off the highway on to this road > BENTON CROSSING.
Pull over, get out and stretch. Look at your maps, get the GPS out and then start your exploring. First timers might be able to find a soaking tub within half an hour, if you don’t get lost. Or get stuck in a muddy spot, which is easy to do at night.
Hill Top Hot Springs
also known as – “Hilltop, Pulky’s Pool”
Willy’s Hot Spring
also known as – “Wild Willie’s, Crowley Springs”
Inyo Forest Road #2S07
Whitmore Tubs Road
a major graded dirt road that leads north off of the paved road, becomes Owens River Road and connects back to US 395 many miles to the north.
Several primitive hot tubs can be found on dirt roads in this region, which lead off the main paved road. At night these remote pools can be hard to find – with no signage, no street lights and pitch black darkness. Plus the mud bogs and grassy fields all around make the landscape difficult to navigate. If you plan a nighttime arrival, then plan to drive in slowly around the pools, have your GPS handy and look for steam in the air. Cut your headlights if you see other cars or people, and proceed slowly.
Be considerate of others and friendly. Do not litter. Do not crank up music. Wait for others to finish soaking and do not rush anybody. Give others space and privacy to get dressed.
Whitmore Hot Springs
904 Benton Crossing Road Mono County Park w/ public swimming pool & day use fee
also known as – “Whitmore Tubs, Whitmore Springs”
Inyo Forest Road #3S11
Minaret Summit Rd
This wilderness region is located the on the west side of Mammoth Mountain, accessible by the paved Minaret Summit Road, which closes due to deep snow and is generally only open during summer months.
Red’s Meadow Hot Springs
developed campground w/ wooden sheds for baths: showers & tubs.
near Devil’s Postpile National Monument
also known as – “Red’s Meadow Hot Showers”
Iva Bell Hot Springs
remote, wilderness; hike-in hot springs.
south of Mammoth & Rainbow Falls, via trail #2622
also known as – “Fish Creek Hot Springs”
Little Hot Springs Valley (within the National Park boundary) is also not fit for public use either. Although it may be appealing as a sightseeing destination, (accessible by dirt road) it is far from soaking quality.
Hot Springs Creek flows south into Mill Creek
DixieFire 2021 ravaged California’s Volcanic National Park. Morgan Mountain lightning strike fire merged with the monster fire to the east. NPS fire crews and CalFire lit a back fire near the Visitors Center on Hwy 89 – to burn and meet the bigger oncoming fire. Winds from the north forced the giant wildfire from the peaks and down hill to Mill Creek and Child Meadows, where firefighters were able to control the leading edge of the fire.
the only real hot springs worth visiting around Lassen National Park
rumors have it that the resort may still be standing – after the fire!
Built in 1900, this historic, rustic mountain meadow resort is accessible by dirt road through Warner Valley – north of Chester, CA. They have a swimming pool, naturally heated by the local hot springs. Plus rental horses, hiking trailheads and a developed campground nearby.
JULY 2021 – Drakesbad is CLOSED due to wildfire Dixie Fire
This place was the alternate choice to Miracle Hot Springs, but since that one is now closed – this is the main attraction out here, along the lower stretch of the Kern River.
USFS Forest Hobo Campground is about a mile away and it may be closed due to landslide repairs. There is also plenty primitive style camping options if you so choose.
Remington is by far, one of the nicest primitive hot tubs in the whole region and easy to access. If you can find it, the rewards are great!! Can be crowded on weekends. If the dirt parking lot is totally full, come back later or wait it out. You can find travelers, mountain bikers, dirt bikers, hikers, backpackers, campers, off-roaders, RVers, burners, desert rats, military boys, local kids, LA couples, techno DJs from Russia – a wide variety of people soaking at this not-so-secret spot.
These unique hand-crafted stone tubs are located on the Lower Kern, overlooking the big river and the fish. 3 volunteer built cement & river rock hot spring pools sit adjacent to the Kern River. There is also another small cooler tub on the trail perched above the thick brush.
This prime recreation spot is located a few miles west of Hobo Campground (old Miracle Hot Springs) is sometimes busy: dirt parking lot, minimal sign & the tubs are not viewable from the road. From parking area you must hike down a steep grassy trail for about a mile.
Bring towels, beverages & everything you will need from the vehicle, as turning around to go back & get everything half way down will prove to be a challenging trail up. Boulders & oaks on steep hillsides. A few campsites down along main trail. Wildflowers here are wonderful in Spring (April-May). Please pick up litter & keep this place beautiful.
West of Kernville & Lake Isabella, CA
along Kern River in the Lower Kern Canyon Gorge, Southern Sierra Nevada mountains
Remington primitive hot springs are located inside the lower Kern Canyon, southwestern part of Sequoia National Forest. Take Highway 178 east to the 4 lane portion, look for Borel Road right turn which climbs a steep hill up to Old Kern Canyon Road. At this stop sign you will see a sign for Remington Trail (3.5 miles) pointing to the right.
Remington Trailhead (signed) & dirt parking lot across from trail, is located on Old Kern Canyon Rd, which runs parallel to the 4-laner Hwy. 178 on the opposite side of the Kern River. The well known Kern Canyon Road is also labeled as “Cort 214” on GoogleMaps.
Remington Ridge Trail #32E51 – Mountain bike, hike and horseback trail
Breckenridge Road #28S06, access via Havilah, CA. Breckenridge has pine forest at higher elevation, and is the tallest mountain to the south of Kern River.
Minimal camping spots with very little privacy at the main dirt parking lot at Remington Hot Springs. The best tent camping is located down on the trails, so you may choose to hike-in to the secluded oaks to the sandy beach camps below. No facilities at Remington, no tables, no toilets, no electricity, so come very prepared to “rough it”.
USFS Sandy Flat Campground and Hobo Campground are a few miles away (to the east), on the same Kern Cyn Road; Breckenridge Campground is on a tall pine forested ridge just to the south, but requires a long drive around the mountain, or a super rugged 4WD vehicle for a steep dirt road.
Folks seeking more seclusion can choose to primitive camp along the narrow paved road leading to the west. Motorhome campers like the option of road side boondocking with great views; several level pullouts can accommodate most any camper. 4×4 camping is closer to Lake Isabella @ Keyesville or BLM River Camping. Primitive camp spots on numerous dirt roads are located in this Lower Kern River area, but you will need to check with Sequoia National Forest ranger for gate closures, fire permit & fire current restrictions.
Saline Valley Hot Springs primitive springs. Very remote desert wilderness area, 60 mile rugged dirt road – high clearance vehicle required; 4×4 access year round. Clothing optional. Nudity out in nature is the norm!
South Death Valley –
Shoshonesmall hot springs resort camps. Swimsuits required.
Tecopa Hot Springscounty park hot springs w/ bath house, rustic resorts & RV parks. Swimsuits required.
Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells and Panamint Springs are not hot springs destinations, although the names seems to imply they might be. The historic Inn at Furnace Creek in the center of the Death Valley National Park has palm trees and pure luxury – deluxe guest rooms, massage & spa services, pools and tennis, restaurants, but no mineral hot springs source. Death Valley Junction, home of the infamous Amargosa Opera House, does not have hot tubs, nor a pool, nor even a restaurant. South end of the park speaks more to the RV campers.
Small town of Shoshone is a little more appealing (visually) than Tecopa Springs, so keep that in mind when wondering what to expect. Cabin rentals at Delights Hot Springs Resort are old, rustic and the whole place is a little “rough around the edges”.
California has many natural hot springs, most requiring a drive into the mountains. Some are rustic resorts, some are developed campgrounds, most are located on paved roads. The very remote tubs are the ones hidden in the secluded wilderness – only accessible by foot.
Plan to camp overnight? Fire Permits are required if you plan to build a campfire or use a camp stove.
HIKE-IN ONLY HOT SPRINGS
Buckeye Hot Springs requires a steep half mile trail down to the creek edge. N of Bridgeport. Eastern Sierra @ Buckeye Creek Road #017.
Deep Creek Hot Springs is a SoCal favorite, but with that convenience comes the crowds. Located on the desert side of the mountains from Lake Arrowhead.
Gaviota Hot Springs is a short hike along a lush canyon. Close to US Hwy 101 and located in between Goleta and Solvang.
Kern River Gorge, Sequoia NF – Both Jordan Hot Springs & Kern Hot Springs accessible only by backpacking many miles, from Jerky Trailhead. Backpack and horseback access only. Golden Trout Wilderness.
Remington Hot Springsrequires a steep but short half mile trail down to the river edge. Lower Kern River. Old Kern Canyon Road @ Remington Trailhead# 32E51 – Remington Ridge Trail is a multi-use trail. Bike, hike, horseback on oaks hills. Wildflowers in Spring.
Sespe Hot Springs requires an 18 mile round trip hike. Usually enjoyed as an overnight backpacking trip. A very challenging and long trek as a day hike. Los Padres National Forest.
Sykes Hot Springs requires a strenuous 10-mile hike from Big Sur Station. Hike inside of Los Padres NF. Usually enjoyed as an overnight backpacking trip, or a very long day hike for the fittest of folks.
This soaking spot is a convenient stop for those traveling the 101 on the California Central Coast. The hot pools are located in an overgrown canyon, about half mile up the hill from the parking area. The natural earthen pools tend to be warm, mushy, and smelly (like sulfur) but never super hot.
These are old, historic, volunteer built pools that are not maintained regularly, so keep that in mind when comparing this location to other well-manicured springs. Many of the locals that care for these sacred spaces only get paid back by reckless visitors with litter, graffiti and vandalism. If you want places like this to stay open, we must do our part to ensure that we leave it better tan we found it.
Parking fee, lot managed by California State Park. Gate closes at dark.
1 mile hike round trip
Poison oak, snake and ticks can be a problem at this location, so do be on the lookout.
hiking trails from here –
Gaviota Peak (fire road) and Campbell Trail (unmaintained)
Keough California is comprised of two soaking spots – a small resort and the primitive tubs below. An Eastern Sierra rustic Hot Springs Resort w/ campground, tent cabins rentals and nice landscaping. Big, clean hot pools at the top of the road. Entrance fees, trees and vegetation, next to the mountains. Seniors and families frequent this place. Swimsuits are required.
Below the resort and above the highway, are some primitive, free hot pools that require dirt road driving. Public nudity is common. Open 24/7 w/ several brush lined pools on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains overlooking the high desert of the Owens Valley. Quite impressive for being just off the highway. Buzzing, huge powerlines overhead are one of the only drawbacks of this soak spot. This place can get crowded at certain times.
Posted: No overnight camping allowed at these lower hot springs.
US Highway 395:
Look for the turn off in between Bishop and Big Pine, California. Take the Keough Hot Springs Road up hill until the second dirt road, turn right and the primitive hot springs will be on the left, just beyond the cold stream crossing. Sometimes a high clearance might be needed. Cars should park and walk the if unsure of the terrain. Do not park right next to the soaking tub, as the ground is too weak and vehicles have been known to slide in, unexpectedly. No kidding!
Plenty great camping all around the Eastern Sierra region. For campsites with cooler temps, higher elevation, pine trees & creeks: Head for the Glacier Lodge Rd – Inyo Road #9S21, West outta Big Pine.
Adventurous 4x4s can try super remote Coyote Flat, a super high elevation pinyon plateau that overlooks Bishop. Also Highway 168 W outta Bishop will lead to primitive camping areas like The Buttermilks, a rock climbing area. Further up the hill is alpine lake and creek camping in aspen groves.