There is nothing more frustrating than going on vacation and not being prepared. Whether you didn’t bring the right shoes or forgot to pack your toothbrush, it creates quite an inconvenience. Trust me, I would know.

On my first trip to Mammoth Lakes, I’ll be honest, I didn’t do much research on the area other than the best hiking trails and horseback riding. It wasn’t until I was browsing the shops in The Village that I overheard a group mention that Mammoth Lakes is one of the best places to soak in the magical waters of natural hot springs. It didn’t take long until I was back in the car and searching the internet for the closest hot spring.

Footpath next to hot spring in Mammoth Lakes
Families and kids enjoying Wild Willy's Hot Spring in Long Valley, Mammoth Lakes, Mono County, California. USA. Natural hot springs from old volcanic activity.

I found Wild Willy’s Hot Springs on Benton Crossing Road and eagerly walked the boardwalk to find several steaming pools of stunningly clear water. Paired with 360-degree panoramas of mountains, this was truly a dreamy little oasis. Upon arrival, I was so distracted by the scenery that it took me a moment to realize I was vastly underprepared.

Already in the pools, a few people were in bathing suits with towels, water bottles, and sandals nearby. I was in jeans and a flannel, and I wasn’t about to take a dip in the hot springs while wearing denim. In fact, I didn’t even pack a bathing suit for the trip at all. So what did I do? I left—talk about embarrassing. It was a classic rookie mistake I’ve vowed never to make again.

On your next trip to Mammoth Lakes, I highly recommend adding a soak in one of the many hot springs to your to-do list, but make sure you’re prepared! To ensure your experience is as blissful and relaxing as possible, I’ve compiled a list of the essentials you should bring to your hot springs soak. It will make the experience all the sweeter!

Traveling - packing (preparing) for adventure school trip concept. Backpack, boots, jacket, lunch box, water and fruits on wooden background captured from above (flat lay).
Pulkey's Pool, one of the Mammoth Lakes scenic hot springs.

Even if you’re just kicking back and relaxing, hydration is still important. Bring a water bottle, and be sure to replenish your system to feel truly rejuvenated when you finish up. Remember, friends don’t let friends get dehydrated.

Make a day of your hot springs excursion and pack a few snacks for you and your group. Out of respect for the hot springs and others trying to enjoy their soak, be sure to get out of the water before chowing down.

Proper footwear is always essential, and a visit to the hot springs is no exception. Many of the area’s hot springs require a bit of a walk, so sneakers are recommended as the terrain can be unpredictable. However, once you arrive, you’ll definitely want to kick your shoes off. Have sandals on hand to protect your feet from surrounding rocks and gravel while you enjoy your oasis.

Of course, we need to protect our skin from the sun, but why all-natural sunscreen? This is important to keep the natural hot springs clear of chemicals and toxins usually added to generic lotions and aerosols. The naturally occurring minerals in hot springs are incredibly beneficial, so it’s important not to disrupt the quality of the water with unsafe products.

Most hot springs are, well, hot – but feeling the cool air on your skin when you’re finished with your soak can be unpleasant. Avoid catching a chill, and bring a towel to dry off when you finish in the hot spring. You’ll thank me later.

Once you’ve toweled off and are ready to go, you’ll want to throw on some clothes before walking back. Loose clothing is a quick, easy option that won’t get stuck on a wet bathing suit or damp skin. You’ll want to be covered in something warm, especially on cooler days.

Sunset is one of the most popular times to visit the local hot springs. The sky is changing colors, and the sun is sinking below the mountains—a perfect backdrop for a relaxing soak. Pack a flashlight to illuminate your path if you don't make it back to your car before dark. It’ll make your walk much easier.

Woman soaking in a hot spring pool in the Eastern Sierra Nevada near Mammoth Lakes, California.
Heart shaped hot springs at Wild Willys Hot Springs in Mammoth Lakes California in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, in the Long Valley Caldera

Whether you need to soothe your tired muscles after hiking to Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park, or you just need to decompress after a long day of traveling, the hot springs in Mammoth Lakes are a must for your next trip to California.

Ready to start your vacation? Our Mammoth Lakes homes are in the perfect location to experience all the area has to offer, including the hot springs. Be sure to share your travels, tag us on social media @naturalretreats and use #TravelOn