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Crowley Hot Spring, also known as Wild Willy’s, is a natural spring located in Long Valley, California, southeast of the town of Mammoth Lakes. This area is considered the mother lode of hot springs in central CA, situated along the scenic eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

To get there, from U.S. Hwy 395, southeast of Mammoth Lakes between Mammoth-June Lake Airport and Lake Crowley, take Benton Crossing Road (there’s a small green church on the southeast corner of Hwy 395 & Benton Crossing Rd.) in northeasterly direction for about 3.1 miles (5km). Just past a cattle guard across the road, turn right on a dirt road, and follow it for about 1.1 miles, stay to the right at the large rock, take the left fork after the rock, and continue for about 0.3 miles to a gravel parking area. From there, you’ll see a sign at the beginning of a boardwalk trail, which leads to the hot pools about 200 yards away.

1. The boardwalk courses over a mix of open grassy meadowland and boggy alkaline flats.

2. During my visits, the hot spring pools, as well as the boardwalk, were clothing optional ;-)

3. And sometimes you have to share the place with cattle (fortunately, cows don’t enjoy soaking in hot springs).

We made our first trek to Crowley HS on an August evening in 2005. Shortly after arriving, the sun lowered behind the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the mosquitoes attacked in swarms. It was a beautiful sunset, but since us naturists provided the only ‘squito feast for several square miles, it was more safely viewed by staying neck-deep in the pool.

4. The setting sun illuminating upper storm clouds to the east.

5. Sunset over the Sierra Nevada Range.

We returned the following morning and had the place to ourselves for about an hour....except for a nearby herd of cows; at least they’re not bothersome like biting insects.

6. The main pool with lots of visitors.

7. We were hoping to get some fresh milk to go with breakfast.

8. This nearby pool was just a bit too stagnant and choked with algae for my liking (didn’t bring any Penicillin).

9. Now this is what we came for!

10. LV Bare Hiker enjoys a relaxing soak.

11. This is one of the most scenic hot springs I’ve visited-that ain’t no bull!

If you decide to visit Crowley HS or any of the other springs in the area, no matter what time of year it is-always check the weather forecast. Mid-summer thunderstorms can build quickly, and you can become a human lightning rod in those wide open spaces (also, water is a good electrical conductor, so get the heck out of the pool!). Persistent rain can make the area muddy enough to get your vehicle stuck in some areas. Winter temperatures can be sub-zero, and snow storms can be severe enough for road closures. The closest lodging and services are in Mammoth Lakes-a touristy town for summer recreation at the lakes and even busier during the winter ski season.

12. Here it is-this report wouldn’t be complete without my trademark foot-shot.


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