A vision of sweeping valleys surrounded by towering cliffs, majestic waterfalls, and plenty of natural beauty attracts millions of visitors each year to Yosemite National Park. Even though the park was first protected in 1864, Yosemite remains a monument to California’s natural beauty and features several hiking trails and intrepid landscapes for visitors to explore.
Unfortunately, despite being home to a myriad of natural attractions and landmarks, Yosemite doesn’t boast a single hot spring within its protected confines. However, in a state with over 300 natural thermal pools, visitors to Yosemite don’t have to venture too far outside of the national park to soak in a natural mineral spring.
Located within an hour’s drive from the park’s Tioga Pass Entrance, these six hot springs near Yosemite are some of the best spots in the state for soothing worn joints and muscles after an arduous exploration of the park’s daunting landscapes. (Distance from Yosemite city center in brackets).
Hot Springs Near Yosemite
1. Travertine Hot Springs (31 Miles)
Located only a 45-minute drive north of Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Entrance, the Travertine Hot Springs are the closest thermal pool to the national park and the most accessible mineral spring for visitors seeking a soothing soak. As such, the hot springs can often be crowded with visitors seeking the water’s therapeutic properties.
Nevertheless, the Travertine Hot Springs is one of the most tranquil destinations in the region and has attracted visitors for centuries, dating back to local indigenous tribes that frequented the springs as a site of healing.
The hot springs feature four rustic thermal pools lined with rocks and mud, which visitors often use to coat their faces and bodies for a natural mud treatment. While the spring averages 180 degrees Fahrenheit when it emerges from the source, the water cools to more comfortable temperatures by the time it reaches the pools.
Each of the four thermal pools features varying sizes and temperatures, and visitors are sure to find a soaking experience perfect for their preferences.
2. Rock Tub Hot Spring (37.2 Miles)
While only slightly further from Yosemite, the Rock Tub Hot Spring is easily accessed to the south of the Tioga Pass Entrance near the Mammoth Lakes area. Surrounded by three other small thermal pool destinations, Rock Tub Hot Springs is arguably the most popular in the region, which can largely be attributed to their ease-of-access and pristine setting.
While only a short walk along a boardwalk from the parking lot, the Rock Tub Hot Spring feels as if it’s isolated miles from any civilization and is idyllically nestled in a sweeping meadow surrounded by the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
While designed to look like a naturally occurring thermal pool, the small spring-filled tub is actually man-made. It features depths of about 2 feet and can accommodate up to eight visitors at a time.
Fed directly from the nearby bog source, the Rock Tub Hot Springs average between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit and features a cleaning drain that ensures a fresh soaking experience.
3. Hilltop Hot Spring (38.6 Miles)
Also known as Pulkey’s Pool, the Hilltop Hot Springs is located only a short distance from the Rock Tub Hot Spring and features scenic views similar to its nearby thermal pool neighbor. Another man-made pool, the Hilltop Hot Spring, is fed from a geothermal source below the earth’s surface and averages 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
From the source, the spring water is then transported by pipes to be fed into the thermal pool. As a result, the water averages a much more comfortable 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit when poured into the Hilltop Hot Spring, which can be adjusted further by the gate valves featured within the tub.
The thermal pool is only slightly smaller than Rock Tub Hot Spring and can accommodate up to 6 soakers with depths reaching about 2 feet deep. Nevertheless, Hilltop Hot Spring is a fantastic spot for escaping to eastern California’s countryside while enjoying the surreal setting of the region’s majestic landscape.
4. Shepherd Hot Spring (38.6 Miles)
Another fantastic thermal pool in the Mammoth Lakes area, the Shepherd Hot Spring is much like the other pools in the region in that it is easily accessible and boasts panoramic views of the sweeping meadow and surrounding picturesque mountains.
Smaller than the Hilltop and Rock tub Hot Springs, the Shepherd Hot Spring is two feet deep but can only comfortably sit up to four visitors. While less roomy, this smaller size allows for a quieter, more intimate soaking experience while admiring the surrounding vistas.
From the source, the hot spring is fed with 135-degree Fahrenheit water but is cooled to a more bearable 100 degrees by the time it is filled into the pool. The Shepherd Hot Spring also features a temperature control valve for adjusting the pool’s warmth to optimal temperatures.
5. Wild Willy’s Hot Spring (39.5 Miles)
Also known as Crowley Hot Springs, Wild Willy’s Hot Spring is the fourth and final hot spring near Yosemite located within the Long Valley Caldera of the Mammoth Lakes region. It also is the largest and offers visitors a more spacious area for a comfortable soak.
Wild Willy’s Hot Springs consists of two natural thermal pools fed by a small creek. The first pool is about three feet deep ad 10 feet wide and can swim up to about three guests. The complex’s larger pool is approximately 50 feet from the first pool and can swim between 15 and 20 guests comfortably.
The water averages between 95- and 105 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, with the smaller pool tending to feature temperatures slightly warmer than the larger one. Camping is permitted within the area, although no additional amenities are featured on the property.
6. Buckeye Hot Springs (41 Miles)
Located north of the Tioga Pass Entrance, the Buckeye Hot Springs is one of the most beautiful primitive hot springs near Yosemite. Tucked away in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, the Buckeye Hot Springs feature six thermal pools that accentuate the region’s natural beauty while offering a therapeutic soak in mineral-rich waters.
The six pools are fed by a majestic waterfall that cascades down the nearby cliffside leading to the pools. The steady fall of the water combined with the warm, soothing spring waters provides a genuinely blissful experience unmatched by any of the state’s nearby thermal spas.
From the source, the spring is a scorching 135 degrees Fahrenheit, although the waters are cooled to a more comfortable 100 to 110 degrees by the time it reaches the pool. For further temperature adjustments, visitors can rearrange the rock walls protecting the pools from the nearby Buckeye Creek to allow some of the cooler water to seep through.
Alternatively, visitors seeking an escape from the warm waters can opt to plunge directly into the creek for a soothing soaking experience of varying temperatures.