Eastern Sierra California Mammoth domiciles thermal tub springs
Californian Jacuzzi: Wild Willy aka Crowley
Getting to take a dip in Wild Willy’s Hot Spring, one of California’s most famous and pinterested (yeah, it’s a verb now) natural hot springs, was my bucket list for a while. The online directions to this and the neighboring tubs are seemingly cryptic, resulting in us getting lost.. a few times. For those who want to respectfully soak in these tubs, without getting lost, I am writing this for you.
We were northbound on Highway 395 heading towards Mammoth Lakes, and Google Maps told us to turn right on Benton road, with a locally famous Green Church at the corner. Even though I saw the green church loud and clear, I also saw a group of tourists wearing identical green shirts (creepy), and a road of nothingness beyond that.
Did Google maps get it wrong? Was there somehow another Benton road with a green church at its corner? Needless to say, I drove right past it and immediately made a left turn, accidentally discovering Convict Lake (everything happens for a reason!). After noting that this was a place to definitely check out later, we were able to find someone who knew the lay of the land, and who gave us their version of directions to Wild Willy’s. We then returned back onto the 395, and confidently made a left turn onto Benton, passing the Green Church and even waving to the green-shirted tourists. Time to soak! Not..
Driving into nothingness, well…it feels like driving into nothingness. And the directions online say to make a right turn after the second cattle guard. Look, I may be directionally challenged, but telling me to turn onto some random ‘dirt road’ after guessing what a cattle guard looks like, was not a good idea. We got lost again and soon returned back onto the semi-familiar Benton road. We continued East until we turned into Brown’s Owens River Campground, “a fisherman’s paradise.” There, we used the facilities, and headed into the General Store where we met this wonderful woman working there who knowingly smiled, and asked if we were lost trying to find the hot springs.
Luckily for us, she and her husband drew out this map (see below) that visually tells you where each hot tub is located, with approximate distance and all. When I mention that this was a map to the Eastern Sierra’s hidden treasures, at least in terms of tubs. Her response was, “Look hun, this happens so often that we just thought it would be easier to draw something out for all of the tourists rather than explain word for word how to get to each one of them, every time”.. (thank you, kind lady!). She then confirmed that the online resources available are purposefully cryptic (see, I’m not delusional).
With this map in hand, we got back on ol’ Benton road and this time, made a left turn onto the correct dirt road. From there, it was 1.2 miles until reaching Wild Willy’s Hot Spring’s parking lot, which may seem like forever without an all-wheel drive car and I definitely wouldn’t recommend driving this road during the winter.
You will then see the entrance to the yellow brick road, or in this case, the beautiful wooden walkway. Walk approximately 10 minutes until you reach both pools. The first one on the left is warmer than the one on the right-side. Upon our arrival, there was only one other small group in the first pool (who left soon after) and a lone Mammoth native in the other, who shared a wealth of knowledge with us about the ins and outs of the local territory. Ah, nothing compares to soaking in nature’s bathtub.
As you can see, this place is breathtaking and ultimately was worth getting lost (three times) for. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit any of the other spring, but our next voyage will be a breeze with this tub-ular treasure map in hand!
Enjoy your time in the pool(s), and don’t forget to practice leaving no trace behind.
As always, Buen Camino!
Read on to know which are the 15 things people forget to tell you to pack on the Camino De Santiago.
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