Heavenly Hot Springs
May – June 2014
Nevada’s geothermal activity offers serene soaking experiences.
BY ERIC CACHINERO
There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in a hot bath after a long day hiking or skiing in the Silver State. Though Nevada certainly has its share of luxurious spas offering soothing mineral baths, visiting one of the approximately 300 natural hot springs that essentially exist in our back yards allows for a comparable experience. With each spring a comes a different temperature, size, and location, allowing natural hot spring enthusiasts to seek out their ideal spot to soak. Besides being a great way to explore some lesser-known areas of the state, visiting natural hot springs is certainly a relaxing way to enjoy Mother Nature’s wonders in Nevada.
SPENCER HOT SPRINGS
Nestled neatly in alongside the Toquima Range approximately 18 miles southeast of Austin, Spencer Hot Springs is one of the state’s most accessible springs and offers multiple large soaking areas. White alkali dust—a signature sign of geothermal activity—coats the ground surrounding the springs, and sagebrush speckles the central-Nevada landscape.
A hot-tub-sized dipping pool has been created at the upper spring and is lined with flat stones that can be sat on, offering a very primitive version of a hot tub. The lower spring offers a smaller metal dipping pool with the ability to regulate the temperature of the water. Water is fed into the pool by a small pipe. When the water reaches the desired temperature, visitors can simply remove the pipe and relax at their leisure. The water flowing out of the tub continues on its path downhill, creating several smaller pools, giving unique life to the desert. A couple dozen goldfish live in the springs’ runoff, calling the warm water home year round.
Although the area has no campground amenities, several metal fire pits exist near the springs. There is plenty of room to park trailers or set up tents; however, if you do decide to camp, be sure to set up a good distance away from the soaking pools so to avoid infringing others’ ability to enjoy the springs.
Directions: From Austin, travel approximately 12 miles east on U.S. Highway 50 to the point where it intersects State Route 376. Turn south on State Route 376, and after 0.3 miles, take an immediate left onto a dirt road (marked by a road sign for Toquima Cave). Travel on the dirt road for approximately 6 miles. The springs will be on your left.
LEACH HOT SPRINGS
Clockwise from left to right: The springs at Soldier Meadows Hot Springs form a hot creek, in which several dipping pools have been built. Leach
Hot Springs offers a very large area to soak, and are easily accessible via dirt roads. The springs allow visitors to enjoy spectacular sunset views
Located south of Winnemucca via Grass Valley Road, Leach Hot Springs is a great destination for amateurs. With a very large area to soak, the springs are the perfect starting point for those looking to test the waters. A well-maintained dirt road allows most vehicles access.
Visitors should be advised that although the swimming portion of the springs is on public property, the source of the springs is not, and is very dangerous to approach. The springs offer no campground amenities.
Getting there: From Winnemucca, travel south on Grass Valley Road for approximately 13 miles. When the pavement ends, continue on Grass Valley Road for another 15 miles. The springs will be on your right.
SOLDIER MEADOWS HOT SPRINGS
North of the Black Rock Desert and Gerlach lies a remote soaking area, Soldier Meadows Hot Springs. The springs at Soldier Meadows form a hot creek in which man-made dams cause
hot-tub-sized dipping pools to form. According to Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the area includes seven semi-primitive camping facilities (parking areas and fire pits), a vault toilet, and walking trails that lead to the springs. The area also includes a primitive cabin that is available for public use on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Because of approximately 60 miles of dirt road between the Black Rock Desert and the springs, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. BLM suggests people making the trip carry two spare tires. The area is very remote and can be difficult to find.
Getting there: From Gerlach, travel north on County Road 34 for approximately 13 miles. Take a slight right on to Soldier Meadows Road, and travel approximately 47 miles. The springs will be on your left.
KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS
Whether you decide to visit a well-known hot spring or attempt to venture to a lesser-known geothermal zone, be sure to follow a few tips to keep yourself and others around you safe:
- Always test the temperature of the water before getting in a natural hot Even well-known springs can drastically change temperatures, so testing the water each time will ensure you don’t step into a spring that is too hot. A food thermometer works well for testing.
- Always be sure to bring a proper vehicle with enough gas to make it to and from your destination, as well as plenty of extra food and water in case you have vehicle Often times Nevada hot springs are located in remote areas. Be sure to bring a detailed map and let people know where you are going before embarking.
- While falling ill from swimming in hot springs is extremely rare, there is still a possibility that it could happen. Some hot springs contain organisms that can be harmful to humans. It may be a good idea to keep your head above water at all times.
- Please pick up any trash you bring to a hot A much- anticipated soak in nature can be tainted by a spring riddled with trash and broken glass.
- Because of potential slippery or sharp rocks and occasional broken glass, a pair of sturdy water shoes is recommended before stepping in.