The Eastern Sierra is a mecca for outdoor adventure seekers, complete with stunning views and places that we can’t believe actually exist. Unfortunately, many of the best spots are only known to the locals, such as Buckeye Hot Springs, about an hour north of Mammoth Lakes, California. Fortunately for you, we know some Mammoth locals and can give you the inside scoop.
The beginning of the hike down to the springs; photo courtesy Benjamin Roman
Mammoth Lakes is famous for its natural hot springs, and many tourists are familiar with the springs located close to the airport. But recently some of my local friends decided to change up the scenery and drive about 55 miles north to camp near what I would come to know as the Buckeye Hot Springs. To get there we drove up the 395 through the small town of Bridgeport and then turned off Buckeye Road toward Buckeye Campgrounds. We then drove on the dirt road left of Doc & Al’s Camp & Cabin, crossed two one-lane bridges, and followed the signs to the Springs at the top of the hill on the right. And yes, I may get assassinated for sharing that information.
Name of area: Buckeye Hot Springs near Bridgeport, California
Location: Below Buckeye Campgrounds, 54 miles north of Mammoth Lakes
Necessities: Sturdy shoes, sunscreen, bathing suit, camping gear for the overnighters, water in case of heat
Expect: Naked visitors (many people like to enjoy the springs sans bathing suit)
Buckeye Hot Springs; photo courtesy Fraka
The hot springs are surrounded by free campgrounds, or ones you can pay for. We elected for the free campgrounds, which sit above the hot springs. Once we settled down, we decided to check out the springs, which we could get to via a trail. If you ever decide to visit these campgrounds, bring hiking or running shoes, as the trail features loose gravel and rocks and is a straight shot down with no switchbacks. But once you get to the springs, the reward is worth the difficult travel.
The Buckeye Hot Springs, which are surrounded by miniature caves and miniature waterfalls, are unique because they sit directly next to a cold river, with three springs staggered along it. There are also man-made pools that hold cooler water, in case you want to switch things up. During the winter, most people wouldn’t dare jump out of the hot springs into the colder pools, but if you make it out there during the summer, the river and cold pools are really refreshing.
A closer look at the pools; photo courtesy Fraka
To put it simply, the Buckeye Hot Springs are genuinely one of a kind, where you can camp, enjoy the river, and spend some time barbecuing in the woods. Everyone should experience this spot, even if you’re just passing through.