Growing up, I always heard my classmates whose parents took them on winter ski trips talking about Mammoth Mountain. I wasn’t a skier back then and although I dabble these days, it’s far from my favorite winter activity. As an adult, I’ve been lucky enough to discover that Mammoth Lakes is so much more than just a ski mountain.
This unique part of California is full of dramatic lakes framed by gorgeous mountains, numerous hot springs, and magical winter landscapes perfect for snowshoeing in. These are some of the best things to do in Mammoth Lakes in the winter:
12. Hot Springs
As a bona fide hot spring enthusiast, the wealth of hot springs is what initially inspired me to take a winter trip to Mammoth. It’s hard to beat the beauty of the snow while watching it from a natural hot tub in the middle of nowhere. My favorite springs are ‘primitive’ meaning natural, free of charge, and HOT. The three springs off of Benton Crossing Road just south of the town of Mammoth Lakes all fit the bill.
Since each of these Springs is located down a dirt road, in the winter months the roads are closed and you’ll have to hike or snowshoe in (bring snowshoes if it has snowed recently as it’s less likely to be packed down). They’re all accessible from the same general roadside parking at about a mile’s walk down a mostly flat trail. In the summer, it’s an easy drive.
Don’t assume the hike means people will be swayed from going, though! If you want any chance of getting these to yourself, go at sunrise (and you might still share, but sharing is caring).
- Willy’s Hot Spring: Pictured above, the famous heart-shaped pool had me intrigued. The temperature is perfect, and if you get there with others around, there are a couple of other springs in the area that are equally warm and lovely. This is about a mile’s hike from the road down a flat trail.
- Hilltop Hot Spring: The closest to the road, this is one of the more popular springs in the winter months since it’s the shortest walk.
- Crab Cooker Hot Spring: With the best view of the mountains, this pool is about a mile from the roadside parking in the opposite direction of Willy’s and is pleasantly hot.
While I’m not out to share any super secret springs, these are all easily found on Google maps and are no secret, so after a quick search you’ll be in business.
11. Snow Shoe
Speaking of snow-shoeing, there’s no shortage of opportunity in the Mammoth area. One of the best is the…