Mammoth Lakes is a beautiful town located in the Eastern Sierra of California. It is known for its world-class mountain biking and hiking, its ski resort, and its hot springs. One of the best-kept secrets of the area is the Hot Creek Geological Site.

Mammoth Lakes is a beautiful town in California that used to be a mining town. During the Gold Rush, the area was a hot spot for miners looking to strike gold, but when the last of the gold was found, the area was forgotten and now you can wander around and find old buildings and piles of rocks scattered about.

Mammoth Lakes is a great spot for year-round outdoor recreation, with snow-capped peaks and a moderate climate. In the summer, the area offers a wide range of activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and so much more! Check out the Mammoth Lakes National Park for some great hiking, and the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort and Mammoth Mountain Bike Park for some awesome snow sports and mountain biking. For something completely different, make it a point to visit Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA, a natural wonder that features nearly 150 geothermal features, including hot springs, a waterfall, and a cave.

Hot Creek Geological Site, located less than ten miles from Mammoth Lakes town center, is a Highway 395 must-see for its beautiful location and fascinating geothermal characteristics.

Hot Creek Geologic Site, which looks like a miniature Yellowstone or Lassen Volcanic, is a wonderful location to see geology’s wonders, from boiling pools and occasional geysers to steaming fumaroles. One of the greatest things to do in Mammoth Lakes is to visit the site!

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!Hot Creek Geological Site’s aqua pools!

You can’t swim in the pools at the Hot Creek Geological Site, and you can’t even go near to them. Because the water temperatures here may suddenly become scorching hot, there will be many warnings advising you not to approach the water.

Are you planning a trip to Mammoth Lakes, California’s Hot Creek Geological Site? Read on to find out what to anticipate, as well as some helpful hints for visiting the site!

Overview of the Hot Creek Geological Site

The Long Valley Caldera, which was created by an eruption approximately 760,000 years ago, includes the Hot Creek Geological Site. Multiple hot springs and other indications of geothermal activity may be found in the caldera, indicating that it is still thermally active.

Mammoth Creek, a chilly, snow-fed creek, passes through town before going east. Warm geothermal springs mix with chilly waters at the Hot Creek State Fish Hatchery.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The gorge’s Hot Creek meanders across it.

When the stream reaches Hot Creek Gorge, where even hotter springs significantly raise water temperatures, it is given the moniker Hot Creek. As it travels down the gorge, numerous hydrothermal characteristics may be seen.

Water that has seeped deep below meets magma that is thousands of feet below the surface of the gorge. It is exposed to very high temperatures and pressures. The hot water finally reaches the surface, bursts out, and mixes with the cold surface waters of Hot Creek, resulting in the surreal environment seen at the Hot Creek Geologic Site.

Seismic activity at Hot Creek causes the terrain to change constantly, with new fumaroles, geysers, and hot springs forming where none previously existed and old features vanishing.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!Hot Creek Geological Site is an unearthly scenery!

Swimming was allowed in certain areas of the site a few years ago. The pools are now cordoned off due to the volatility of water temperatures and unexpectedly erupting geysers. It is not permitted to enter the water.

What to See at the Geological Site of Hot Creek

Hydrothermal Characteristics

The main reason to visit Hot Creek Geological Site is to gaze at the hydrothermal phenomena.

The aqua pools are the site’s most remarkable feature. The pools, which are located along the blue-green Hot Creek, provide a magnificent picture with the clouds of steam coming from them. On the powdery white limestone around the pools, minerals seeping from the water form fascinating patterns in reds and rust. It’s a sight straight out of a postcard!

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!At Hit Creek, the blue pools are the main attraction!

Other parts of the site include more subtle fumaroles, and if you’re fortunate, you may even witness a geyser (or many!) erupt into the air during your visit. However, geysers here are sporadic, and we didn’t witness one in action during our stay.

Hot Creek’s Natural Beauty

As it weaves its way through the gorge, Hot Creek creates a stunning image. Along the banks of the stream, reeds abound, and wildflowers bloom in the spring and summer.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The gorge’s Hot Creek emerges.

All of this takes place in the breathtaking Eastern Sierra, with majestic mountains providing the ideal background for the flowing stream.

The long-range landscape seen from this vantage point is also breathtaking. The magnificent peaks that rise above Convict Lake can be seen to the west, while Mammoth Mountain can be seen in the distance to the north. The Glass Mountains soar up into the sky to the east.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!To the west of Hot Creek, there are several stunning peaks.

Flora and Fauna (Flora and Fauna)

Bring your binoculars if you like bird watching. When we went, we witnessed a bald eagle soaring above the stream, its magnificent wing span and brilliant yellow beak a thrilling sight. You may observe egrets or herons near the lake in addition to bald eagles and osprey.

There are many plant species at the location, both along the walk to the stream and around the water. Some wildflowers were still blooming along the walkway when we went in July.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!In late July, a wild plant blooms.

At the Hot Creek Geologic Site, there are a variety of things to do.

Take in the Views from the Lookouts

At Hot Creek Geologic Site, you don’t have to go far from the parking lot to discover spectacular vistas. You can see right down to the stunning blue pools if you go to the overlooks at the parking area’s edge.

At the viewpoint, there is an interpretive sign with information on the site and the hydrothermal activity.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!At the Hot Creek Geologic Site, there is an interpretive sign.

Down to the Creek, use the Paved Trail.

From the parking area of Hot Stream Geologic Site, a short steep paved walk goes down to the creek level. Beautiful views of the brilliant blue pools, the deep blue-green of Hot Creek, and the colors and textures of the rock formations may be seen along the route.

The path features one switchback and finishes at the bottom with a fence. There were holes in the asphalt on the route when we went, as well as spots where it had broken off, so don’t become too absorbed in the vistas that you forget to keep an eye on your step.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The Hot Creek Geological Site’s beautiful walk

Uneven terrain and scorching hot water are warned of throughout the route. Please pay attention to all warnings and signage.

In both directions, a dirt path runs along the creek’s south bank. We didn’t feel safe going off the asphalt because of the signs, so we turned back when the pavement stopped.

The path to the fence is short (about 0.2 mile one way), but it is steep.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The path at Hot Creek Gorge is a bit of a climb.

Brees Lookout is the place to go for the perfect Instagram shot!

Beyond the Hot Creek Geological Site parking area, continue on Hot Creek Hatchery Road for approximately 0.2 mile to Brees Lookout. See the map for further information.

Beautiful pictures of Hot Creek with the Sierra Nevada mountains as a background may be taken from Brees Lookout. At dawn or sunset, the viewpoint provides a spectacular picture opportunity.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!An Instagram-worthy vista!

If you come in a passenger sedan, consider walking to the viewpoint and back, since the gravel road beyond the Hot Creek Geological Site parking lot is much rougher.

The Most Important Information About the Hot Creek Geologic Site

The USDA Forest Service manages the Hot Creek Geologic Site (Inyo National Forest). It is open every day from dawn to dusk. Interpretive signs provide information about the area’s history and geology. There is no charge to enter.

The parking space at Hot Creek Geologic Site is large, and vault toilets are located to the side of the parking lot. The parking lot is very next to the gorge views.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The Hot Creek Geological Site has ample of parking.

At the Hot Creek Geologic Site, dogs must be kept on a leash. It is not permitted to fish, swim, or access the water.

Although fishing is prohibited at the Hot Creek Geological Site, it is widely regarded as one of the finest fly-fishing spots in the Eastern Sierra. Access to Hot Creek Ranch is available for a fee. At the lower end of Hot Creek Ranch, there is free access.

Hot Creek Gorge was used in the shooting of many films, including the 1969 classic True Grit.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The Hot Creek Geological Site is very beautiful!

How to Get to Mammoth Lakes’ Hot Creek Geological Site

The Hot Creek Geological Site is about 10 miles southeast of Mammoth Lakes.

Take US 395 south from Mammoth Lakes and points north. Turn left onto Hot Creek Hatchery Road, which appears just before Mammoth-Yosemite Airport, and travel about 3 miles to the parking area. See the map for further information.

Head north on US 395 from Bishop and points south, then turn right onto Hot Creek Hatchery Road just before the Mammoth-Yosemite Airport. The parking lot at the Hot Creek Geologic Site is roughly 3 kilometers away.

The path down Hot Creek Hatchery Road is well-marked, so keep an eye out for signs directing you to the Hot Creek Geologic Site. Although the final 1.5 miles or so of the trip are on gravel rather than paved road, it is usually doable in a passenger car. We went in a Honda Civic and had no issues driving on the dirt roads. Slow down!

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!There aren’t many bumps on the gravel road!

In the winter, road restrictions may make it difficult to get to the Hot Creek Geologic Site by car. If the route is blocked to vehicle traffic during the winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling are alternatives for getting about.

Visit to the Hot Creek Geological Site: Tips

Beautiful Photos Can Be Taken Early or Late in the Day

At the Hot Creek Geological Site, dawn and sunset are both considered excellent periods for photography. We went early in the morning, and the light was still beautiful, even if the dawn hues had faded.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!Mornings in Hot Creek are ideal for photography.

Pay attention to all signs and warnings.

The Hot Creek Geologic Site is gorgeous, but if you don’t follow the written signs and cautions, it may be hazardous. Read and obey the warnings warning of hazards posted around the property for a safe and pleasant stay.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!Pay attention to all of the warnings!

Allow Plenty of Time

You don’t need much time at Hot Stream Geologic Site, so set aside an hour or two to stroll the path down to the creek, look for birds and animals, take plenty of pictures, and take in the scenery.

Put on some sunscreen.

Even though it’s a short walk, the trail down to the stream and the overlook area are exposed, so bring sunscreen and sunglasses. This natural sunscreen is one of our favorites!

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!Allow plenty of time to take in the scenery!

Bring Water to Drink

Despite the fact that it is a short walk and a brief visit, carry drinking water to keep hydrated.

Expect Limited Cell Coverage

At the Hot Creek Geologic Site, cell service may be patchy to non-existent. The path is short and the road to the site is well-marked, so you may get by without using navigational aids.

Don’t Forget Your Camera!

Bring your smartphone or camera to capture the stunning pools and Hot Creek scenery in pictures and videos.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!The scenery in Hot Creek Gorge is breathtaking!

Are you looking for a tiny camera that can capture stunning landscape photos? Take the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III into consideration. It produces superb high-resolution pictures as well as good video. It’s available on Amazon!

Bring binoculars if you want to go birding.

Bring your binoculars if you like bird watching. You’ll want to get a closer look if you see a bald eagle or an egret. The Celestron Trailseeker small waterproof binoculars are what we use.

Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!At Hot Creek, look for animals and birds.

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Do you want to see more of the Sierra Nevada? Take a look at our other travel and hiking guides!

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Hot Creek Geological Site in Mammoth Lakes, CA: How to Visit This Cool Geothermal Spot!

Mammoth Lakes is located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, about an hour east of Yosemite National Park. This scenic locale offers a multitude of outdoor activities including hiking, white water rafting, biking, horseback riding, as well as world class skiing and mountain biking. In recent years, Mammoth has become known as the center for geothermal activity in the region with a number of hot springs and geysers that are located not too far from Mammoth Lakes.. Read more about hot creek geothermal area mammoth lakes and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Hot Creek in Mammoth?

Hot Creek is in Mammoth Mountain, California.

Can you swim in Hot Creek Geological Site?

No, you cannot.

How do you get to the Crab Cooker Hot Springs?

You can either take the long way around, or you can use a shortcut. The long way is to go through the cave and then up the hill, while the shortcut is right next to it.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • hot creek mammoth
  • hot creek geological site
  • little hot creek hot springs mammoth
  • hot creek geothermal area mammoth lakes
  • hot creek geological site swimming
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