Public health officials across the country are arguing that camping is the safest thing to be doing during covid. I built a moving cabin in order to do more camping and spend time away from other people. I wanted to spend a week testing out this new camper now that it feels finished enough to start using. Since it’s cold and rainy, I figured the perfect thing to do is a hot springs trip!
I have a certain fondness for the Eastern Mid-Sierra region and I’ve always wanted to spend more time exploring that area. There are a lot of hot springs there so it seemed like the perfect destination.
There are several interesting facts that make this area an ideal place to camp and visit hot springs. First of all there are a lot of hot springs in this small area; it would only take a couple hours to drive to all of these. Second, it’s all on BLM/USDA land so it’s free dispersed camping and clothing-optional respectively. Third, there are a bunch of towns so there is plenty of access to any essentials.
I’m currently planning to spend the entire week of thanksgiving at the following locations, probably with about one stop per day.
The North Leg
Buckeye Hot Spring (Map)
This place is great because there is semi-developed campground a thousand feet west of the hot springs. So you can easily pull up to camp for free and then saunter off to soak.
Travertine is just a bit north of mammoth, and it’s another free blm hot springs with free dispersed camping. I have heard that it can sometimes be competitive to get a spot, so I will check it out. If there is a spot available then I will stay here for at least the first night. If it’s packed, then I will probably skip it altogether.
This seems like the coolest spot on the list because there are bathrooms. The other spots have porta potties or require you to dig a hole. Having not visited any of these spots yet, this is the one that seems most likely to be my favorite.
The South Leg
Rock Tub (Map)
So this is another really cool spot which has fire rings and everything set up as another free BLM semi-developed campground but with no water or restrooms.
Shepherd Hot Springs (Map)
On Google it says this is closed, but that doesn’t make any sense because it’s just out there on the land next to the rest of them and there is nothing from BLM about it being closed.
There is also nothing on The Dyrt about this place but it’s within a few hundred feet of two others I’m planning to visit so there’s no harm in checking it out and potentially taking a soak assuming everything is alright.
Crab Cooker (Map)
Crab Cooker is right in between Shepherd and Pulkey’s. It’s about 200 feet to each. All three seem to have their own camping, though I would not move camp 200 feet.
Pulkey’s Pool/ Hilltop Tub (Map)
This one is very cool because it’s actually set up like a large outdoor hot tub.
Wild Willy’s (Map)
You get the point, this is another hot springs nearby which is also free with free camping.
How It Went
There are an unbelievable number of hot springs in the Mammoth Lakes area. Just this one spot vista had dozens of springs, and most of them are not even in this direction. You could spend a long time here and probably still not see them all.
This was my first time trying the highly recommended Italian stovetop espresso maker with my jetboil flash. It worked great. An instant favorite piece of gear. I set it right on the pot support and didn’t have any problems. This photo was after making three espresso shots, and as you can see from the table’s surface it was about eleven degrees out. TBH I was surprised the flash had such an easy time getting it hot enough but it didn’t have any trouble.
We liked the pop-up bathroom / tent set up. I was worried that it would flap around in the wind and be noise, but it was fine. I didn’t hear it moving at all. I used lag bolts to anchor it like we do on the playa.
Because the side of my Moving Cabin is large and white, it makes the perfect projection screen for my new “Moving Theater.”
The views were great and the inside stayed comfortably warm despite outside temperatures reaching just 11 degrees! I’m very happy with the Moving Cabin.
I think I will insulate the subfloor after-all. It’s almost two-inches of wood, but it got significantly cooler than the walls and ceiling on the inside so it seems like it would be worth doing that.