Mammoth Lakes California is a small town located an hour south-east of Yosemite National Park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. In the summer, Mammoth Lakes is a hiker’s haven, in the winter Mammoth Mountain is a snowboarder’s dream. As you can probably guess, the town is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Besides beautiful mountains, Mammoth is also home to more than a handful of hot spring courtesy of the volcanic geography. To access the springs, head out towards Mammoth Airport on Green Church Rd, and you will find most of the popular sites just a short drive from town.
My favorite hot spring is Syphon because of its large deep tub, serene views, and camping nearby. My recommendation is to catch a meteor shower from the tub until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer, camp a couple hundred feet away, and then wake up to watch the sunrise from the warmth of the tub.
One of my favorite memories at Syphon was during Super Park 21. I showed up at the springs only to find the Thirty-Two Snowboard van parked out front. The tub was packed with snowboarders that were riding in the event. There was barely enough space for another person but I made sure to squeeze right in next to Scott Stevens. As if it couldn’t get better than that, he almost left his phone next to the tub. I kindly told him before it was too late, although looking back I definitely should’ve stolen it and added my number.
One of the other most popular hot springs is Wild Willy’s. Unlike Syphon, Wild Willy’s is a natural tub with a creek feeding directly into it. The appeal of Wild Willy’s is the size of the tub. It is probably triple, if not quadruple the size of Syphon. The best way to enjoy Willy’s is with the addition of floaties to keep your buns off the natural pebbly rock bottom. It is also the most picturesque because of the natural grass surrounding it and mountains in the far distant.
My favorite memory at Wild Willy’s was when I accidentally met Shaun White. It was a pitch black night, so dark you couldn’t see more than a couple feet in front of you. I thought I was seeing things when I saw a small dog on the side of the tub. Swimming closer I realized it was the cutest dog I had ever seen, some kind of Yorkie mix. Paying attention only to the dog, I shouted in the direction of who I thought was the owner, asking the dog’s name. The guy I started a conversation with said the pup’s name was Leroy. I didn’t bother asking the guy’s name because I was frankly too preoccupied with this cute little fluffer.
I kid you not, this dog was too perfect to be a normal dog. If you’ve already followed the link you may notice that this dog has 42,300 followers on Instagram. Well… I didn’t know this at the time, so I continued to baby talk this dog, and then joked about stealing him because he was so cute. At this point I noticed a woman saunter over in my direction while I continued my conversation with this man. After a solid conversation I swam back over to my friends in the opposite corner of the tub.
“How was your conversation with Shaun White?” my friend asked with a smirk. At first I thought he was joking, but it took me a second to put two and two together. Besides it being dark, the guy I was talking to did not look anything like the Flying Tomato I remembered. His hair was far from red, not that I could tell in the light, and it was short and slicked back. During the entire conversation I was completely unaware I was talking to a multiple winning Olympic gold medalist.
Well, if things couldn’t get any more ridiculous, I realized after doing a little snooping on Instagram that the lady I saw saunter over was Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel. Aka, one of my favorite bands in college that I’ve seen perform various times. She also seemed to have undergone a makeover because her usual black hair with bangs that I remembered was instead a short blond boyish pixie. Sarah is dating Shaun, and Leroy is Sarah’s dog, hence her hovering when I mentioned stealing her dog.
I still laugh at myself for letting that entire scenario happen without having a clue of who I was talking to. But that’s the beauty of Mammoth. Mammoth Mountain is home to many pro snowboarders and skiers, and no one is exempt from enjoying the natural beauty. If you get the chance to visit, check out the hot springs because you never know who you might meet.