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Relax in the calming waters at Benton Hot Springs | Bartell's Backroads

Private tubs filled with warm, soothing waters and surrounded by panoramic views of the Eastern Sierra are the big draw at this historic, rustic hot spring.

BENTON HOT SPRINGS, Calif. — As the snow melts on the White Mountains, it seeps into the earth. A portion of the mineral-rich water is heated by lava and geothermal activity below.

Eventually, that warm water makes its way to the Inn at Benton Hot Springs in Mono County for visitors like Janelle Younger to enjoy.

“We have traveled to hot springs all over the western states, and Benton Hot Springs — it was always a dream for so many years to get up here,” Younger said.

It’s a dream for many reasons: the panoramic mountain view, the secluded soaking pools and the water, of course. The water at Benton Hot Springs is not only clean, but it's also the perfect temperature for relaxing — and it’s the reason owner Bill Bramlette has been living here for so long. 

“It’s definitely a family business. My wife and I took over the place after my grandparents died in the 1990s,” Bramlette said.

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Benton Hot Springs may have been in Bill Bramlette’s family ever since his race car-driving great-grandfather bought the place in 1928. 

“He raced from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and raced a locomotive to promote the automobile,” Bramlette said.

Bill Bramlette’s great-grandfather, whose name was also Bill Bramlette, bought Benton Hot Springs before the Los Angeles Department of Water could turn it into part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. The family operated a store, gas station, hotel and a bar.

The town of Benton used to be an old silver mining town, and when the Bramlette family bought the place they preserved many of the old buildings like the historic hotel which was frequented by many movie stars. 

“For anyone who likes old westerns, they’ll know who Ben Johnson is,” Bramlette said.

The historic hotel is now a museum, but across the street Bill's wife, Diane renovated some of the rooms in nearby buildings. Each one has a theme and is uniquely decorated. 

“It’s all period pieces, and there is a beauty to that, and each piece of furniture has a story,” Diane Bramlette said.

If the rooms are all booked, visitors can pitch a tent at one of the 12 campsites and enjoy the water which doesn’t have that rotten egg smell like other hot springs.

“No, the sulfur level is at a very low level,” Bill Bramlette said.

The water may be the main attraction but preserving and sharing the history of the property is a big part of Benton Hot Springs. The amenities here are rustic and authentic to the time and that may not be for everyone. 

“We are not a Ritz Carlton,” Diane and Bill Bramlette both said. “No, and if you are looking for that we try and encourage them not to come.”

Benton Hot Springs is open by reservation year-round. To reserve a tub or see a list of events visit the Inn at Benton Hot Springs website

Watch more Bartell's Backroads | Benbow Inn: The historic luxury hotel in the middle of redwood country.

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