No Plans To Re-open Hot Creek to Swimming

The once popular swimming hole at Hot Creek will remain closed this summer and into the distant future.

hot_creek_2The Hot Creek geologic site, near the Mammoth Yosemite Airport, used to be a popular swimming hole for local residents and visitors who could often be seen soaking in the hot springs that bubble up in the middle of the cool water of Hot Creek.

This changed in the spring of 2006. After a heavy snow year the geyser activity picked up. Periodic spurts of water into the air where the water had once barely risen over the surface of the creek led Forest Service officials to fence the area off and close the hole to swimming.

The geyser eruptions have quieted down and some residents say that the pools look like they used to, but the area remains closed to swimming.

Hot Creek isnt officially closed forever, but Mammoth District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge explained that the swimming area is unlikely to re-open due to the unpredictable nature of the risks in this hot spring.

Hot springs are one of the many attractions that bring people to the Eastern Sierra, and many of the nearby hot springs remain open to those in search of a soak, but Regelbrugge says that Hot Creek has a history of accidents that have led to injury. Boiling, scalding water is very unforgiving, he says.

US Geological Survey staff indicates that the water temperature and volume of water coming out of the spring changes constantly without warning, Regelbrugge explained. He adds that the USGS doesnt have a clear understanding what governs the changes.

Its this unpredictable nature of the springs that keeps the Forest Service from reopening the hot springs. From paragliding and mountaineering to dirt bikes and scrambling, people do all sorts of potentially dangerous activities on public lands. The difference, Regelbrugge explained, is that with other activities the objective hazards are identifiable so people can make an informed choice.

The Hot Creek hot springs are not fully understood by the geologists that study the region, let alone a bather who follows the concrete path right to the waters edge.

For now and into the future, the fence and the fines for swimming will remain.


4 Responses to No Plans To Re-open Hot Creek to Swimming

  1. David Amerson October 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

    Unfortunately they did an ugly cheap chicken wire style fence and put up dozens of no trespassing signs where simple warning signs would have sufficed. As Americans we assume some of our own risks and when informed make appropriate decisions. If this were Yellowstone people would be screaming at just how ugly it is. A simple bridge and boardwalk would have allowed safe viewing. Instead we are left with fences and signs that don’t belong in nature.

    Put simply, it would have been cheaper than installing the restrooms that are usually locked.

  2. Trouble October 21, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    David- i’m glad you spoke up on this topic. It does look like crap. I actually know the person that fell in trying to save his dog years ago. The same person was also burn terribly in a car wreck as a teenager from what I understand. Both events damn near killed him.

    Anyway, I think you are close to a great solution for this hidden treasure. I was thinking maybe international hot signs, a bridge and maybe like a glass or thin wire barrier to keep the dogs and kids out. I hope some one comes up with a good solution.

    • Mark October 21, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Anyone that lets their dog run around down there shouldn’t have a dog. Same applies to kids.

  3. Lynda March 10, 2016 at 9:52 am #

    I have swam there for over 60 years, before there was a road down the hill we scampered down the side of the hill and climbed back up. The upper pool was not as active as the main pool. Then you used to be able to cross a bridge to the other side where there was a grassy area. These typea of areas do change over the years, the bridge is gone the grass is gone and the whole other side has opened up lots of hot pots and pools. I’m just praying that they open it up soon. I spent some of the best years of my life camping, hiking, horseback riding and soaking in the Hot Creek. I want to do it again!!!


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