Benton (formerly, Benton Station) is an unincorporated community in Mono County, California, United States. It is located 3 miles (4.8 km) east-northeast of the community of Benton Hot Springs and 32 miles (51 km) north of the community of Bishop, at an elevation of 5387 feet (1642 m). According to the Mono County's government website, the population as of 2000 was 196.
Benton is in area code 760 and ZIP code 93512. It is also known as Benton Hot Springs because of the Hot Springs it features. Benton was once a small mining town with up to 5,000 inhabitants. Many of the original buildings still remain, but the town has never completely died.
Benton is one of the oldest existing towns in Mono County. Benton was originally founded by the western Indians who came to make use of its hot springs. As the nearby towns of Bodie and Aurora grew in size and population, Benton soon became a check-point for travelers on the way south in 1852.
Gold was discovered in the hills of Benton in 1862, and its population quickly grew. After hitting the initial strike of gold, not much more was found, but Benton's profits were soon primarily from silver. Unlike other mining towns, Benton was able to provide enough for the town to thrive and flourish for about fifty years. Although most of the main activity took place between 1862 and 1890, the town and its inhabitants have never completely died out.
The Carson and Colorado Railroad reached the place in 1883, and Benton was a stop.
Benton lies along U.S. Highway 6, outside of Bishop, on the way to remote areas of Nevada. The terrain is described as high desert at an elevation of 5,377 feet (1,639 m) above sea level.
Although Benton is a small town, it is surrounded by other small towns and cities including Mammoth Lakes, Bishop, Death Valley, Lee Vining, June Lake, Tom's Place, Crowley Lake, and Convict Lake.
Benton is in the Eastern Sierra Unified School District. An elementary school and a high school (High Desert Academy) are located in Benton. Benton also has a public library.
The hot springs are one of the major attractions in Benton, as well as fine bed and breakfast rooms and overnight soaking tubs. There are several old mines in the surrounding hills that have also been a source of interest to tourists as well as the hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. Many of the original buildings from the old mine town still exist and are open to exploration, including the cemetery.