Located near Mammoth Lakes, Crab Cooker Hot Springs is one of several hot water springs in the area that are suitable for soaking in. The pool consists of a manmade cement tub with water piped in from a mineral spring about 30 feet away. Though the water at the source is too hot to bathe in, or even to touch, the tub has been outfitted with a valve that allows for the control of hot water. At the right time of day it's possible to notice the numerous other steam plumes that mark the locations of other hot water springs across the nearby meadows. While many of these are muddy bogs with no tubs and are not suitable for soaking, Crab Cooker is robust enough to accommodate a small group of approximately six people. That said, if people in the group aren't already acquainted with each other, anything over four may be a bit uncomfortable in the small space.
The spring is located on land owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which forbids camping at the spring. Camping is fine on nearby public land not far west of the spring, however. Custom seems to indicate a clothing-optional etiquette. Springs in this area seem to be pretty well known and pretty well visited. Be prepared to wait awhile or plan on coming during the off-hours for a better chance of finding the area empty. There are no bathrooms, trash cans, or facilities of any kind located near the springs.
The springs require a 0.2 -mile hike down a rutted doubletrack road from the parking area that lies at the end of a rough unpaved road. High-clearance cars are recommended, though a two-wheel drive car can make it out if you take your time. In wet conditions the dirt roads may be hazardous for two-wheel drive cars. In snowy conditions the unmaintained roads may be impassable altogether. Also, accessing the springs requires several turns down unsigned dirt roads, and cell service is spotty in this area. Be prepared to navigate using off-line resources before you embark on your trip.