Mono County, California

Relax in the Crab Cooker Hot Springs

Originally added by Ty Merkel

Soak in bubbling hot springs, crack open a fizzy drink and gaze at the Sierra.

Getting There:

Take Highway 395 heading toward Benton Crossing Road. Turn onto Benton Crossing and you’ll see an adorable wee green church. Continue two miles down the road. You’ll make a left turn and head down a dirt road.

Cell service is scant in this area, so you'll probably want to download your maps beforehand.

The dirt road leading to the spring is a tad rough, so you'll want a car that has high clearance. That being said, I did see a Prius parked at the end of the road once, so you could chance it. Adventure!

Eventually, you’ll reach a small dirt lot overlooking the vast desert. You’ve made it! There are a few short trails etched into the hillside, and it’s just a 0.2 mile downhill walk to the hot pool. You really can't miss the tub once you go to the end of the road.

About the Cooker

The Crab Cooker isn't nearly as popular as the other tubs nearby, such as Hilltop or Travertine, so even though you should probably expect to share the hot spring with other peeps, there is a decent chance you'll have it to yourself for a bit.

The pool itself is a manmade cement tub with water piped in from a mineral spring about 30 feet away. It fits about 6 people (8 if you don't mind touching toes).

The Crab Cooker lives up to its name, and hovers around 102°F. You can easily control the temperature by adjusting the red valve feeding the pool.

It is custom to go in the springs sans bathing suit. Stripping down isn’t a requirement, but there is always at least one naked old hippy in the tub, in my experience. You’ve been warned.

Also, as is the case with most small, slow-moving hot springs, there could be meningitis-causing pathogens in the water. Most sources agree that if you keep your noggin above the surface, you’re safe. So promise me you won't dunk your head, okay? The brain-eating buggers could enter your body through a miniature puncture in your ear! You’ve been warned! Again!

What’s Nearby

There is plentiful BLM (i.e. free) camping nearby—thrifty adventurers rejoice! There are numerous pullouts along the dirt road where you can pitch a tent. Just don't camp right near the spring.

There aren't any bathrooms, trash cans, or facilities near the spring. There are several anonymous locals who spend a lot of time keeping the tubs clean and functioning, so make sure to help em out and keep the pools spick and span.

I've saved the most important info for last—in the early morning there is a good chance you'll see coyotes prancing around the steamy valley, sniffing out small critters and soaking their paws in hot groundwater. That opportunity alone is worth braving a few nude hippies to me.

Enjoy your soak, friends!

Coordinates: 37.662839,-118.800094

Please remember to pack out what you brought in and take out any other trash you come across.

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Hot Springs


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