Crab Cooker Hot Springs | California Photo Spot

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Crab Cooker Hot Springs by Levan Badzgaradze
Crab Cooker Hot Springs by Levan Badzgaradze

Mammoth Lake Hot Springs

Crab Cooker Hot Springs is one of several Mammoth Lake Hot Springs where you can enjoy a soak while admiring the Sierra Mountains. These beautiful hot spring pools consist of artificial cement tubs with water piped in from nearby mineral springs. About six strangers or eight close friends can fit in the hot tubs at a time. The Mammoth Lake Hot Springs water gets to a toasty 102°F, but visitors can adjust it by a red valve close to the pool.

Springs in this area seem to be pretty well known and pretty well visited – so you may have to be patient or try to come early or late in the day to avoid a people-filled shoot. While bathing suits are the norm, it is not unusual to find a naked person relaxing in the pools, so don’t be surprised to see someone nude relaxing in the warm water.

Crab Cooker Hot Springs

Crab Cooker Hot Springs is less well-known than some other Hot Springs in the area, like the Hilltop and travertine Hot Springs, so we recommend this one. It is reasonably easy to find Crab Cooker Hot Springs. First, turn off Highway 395 onto Benton Crossing Road. You’ll pass a photogenic Green Church that might be worth stopping to shoot, and after about 2 miles, take the second dirt road on the left head down the road. It will be the second dirt road you encounter (the first is more like a Y junction and takes you to a different Hot Spring). Once on the dirt road, it will be your first right and then drive to the parking area at the end.

There is a short walk of 500 ft to the Hot Spring from the parking area. Given its somewhat remote location, we recommend high-clearance cars, or an SUV or 4×4 would probably be best. Cell service is sketchy in this part of the Sierra, so having a good idea of where to find Crab Cooker from the map below is a good idea.

Photographing Crab Cooker Hot Springs

Photography-wise, there are lovely views of the Sierra Mountains from Crab Cooker Hot Springs to the southwest and east, so sunsets and sunrises can both be fantastic at this photo location. Bringing a willing friend to soak in the pool while you shoot might also be a good idea to add some interest, just in case there is no one in the hot spring. The Crab Cooker Hot Spring is photogenic enough on its own, but adding someone to the composition might make it better.

If the Crab Cooker is not empty, remember it is always polite to ask before you take pictures of strangers, especially if they are one of the nude people we mentioned earlier.

(Mammoth Lakes, California, USA)

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