Home to exotic desert vistas and glittery urban areas, Nevada is a world-renowned destination. When visiting this picturesque state, take a detour from the Vegas Strip to experience one of the numerous natural hot springs in the region. Nevada boasts close to 300 natural hot springs, which is more than any other state in the country. Best of all, many of the springs are within driving distance from most Nevada vacation rentals. Here are the state’s top natural hot springs that are worth a stopover and a quick dip.
1. Spencer Hot Springs, Austin, Nevada
Spencer Hot Springs is in the Big Smoky Valley, the Nevada desert, about three hours from Reno. In-earth tubs and vintage cattle trough tubs are its claims to fame as are year-round springs and water temperatures about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The site is accessible via U.S. Route 50, “America’s Loneliest Road.” The Toiyabe Range’s jagged peaks straddle the horizon, and the Hickison Burro Herd of wild horses often wander within sight of the springs.
The springs are free and always open. Sunrise and sunset soaking sessions are common, and the endless sky seen through little to no light pollution is a major draw for Spencer Springs fans. Camp on the spot, or spend the night in nearby Austin, where there are light accommodations, coffeehouses, and antique shops.
2. Ruby Valley Hot Springs, Eastern Nevada
Soak up pure bliss and a clear mind in one of six pristine emerald-hued pools. Spring-fed and roughly 99 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, Ruby Valley Hot Springs offer the triple benefit of being large, rarely crowded, and cinematic. The largest pool is 30 feet in diameter. The entire assortment of spring-fed pools are on the border of the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge, facing the southeastern side of the Ruby Mountains.
Locals say that late spring and early fall are the best times temperature-wise. At any time of year, you’re very likely to have some benign close encounters with wildlife inhabiting the refuge, such as antelope, mule deer, and migrating birds.
3. Paradise Valley Hot Springs
Admire the Great Basin and its surrounding mountains from within a cushy spring-fed pool at Paradise Valley Hot Springs. A devoted handful consider this the best spring-fed pool in all of Nevada. Sometimes referred to as Little Humboldt Hot Spring, this spring’s waters emerge at high temperatures, cooling to a pleasant 105 degrees Fahrenheit as they flow from a large round pot-like receptacle into a trough.
Paradise Valley is the closest town. It’s a farm community with few amenities, and the area around the springs is private property. Plan to camp out on the open Bureau of Land Management public land east of the spring, or plan to soak and return to your vacation destination. The Great Basin is expansive and arid, save the Humboldt River, the scattering of trees the river nourishes, and a carpet of tough grasses. The area has a palpable, quiet, rustic beauty. Despite the spring’s popularity, it remains under the radar.
4. Soldier Meadows Hot Springs, Northern Nevada
Soldier Meadows Hot Springs epitomize remoteness, but visiting is so worth the extra effort required to enjoy the springs. There are nearly 40 documented springs total located next to a working cattle ranch, the Soldier Meadows Ranch. The ranch offers temporary lodging and meals, but there’s plenty of BLM public land in the area. In fact, Soldier Meadows Hot Springs is part of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, some 1.2 million acres of BLM public land.
BLM signs in and around the area provide journal entries from actual pioneers, creating a sense of place and history as you hike to the springs. Pioneers stopped at these springs while crossing the trail, a trail that is quite intimidating in its entirety. The scenery boasts prairie extending to the directions and a galaxy worth of sky. Locals say you can see the Milky Way from the springs on clear nights. The springs are free and always open.
5. Black Rock Hot Springs, Gerlach, Nevada
Black Rock is the location for the annual gathering “Burning Man.” During the rest of the year, you can enjoy this city’s best qualities: Its namesake Black Rock looming over a beige and green desert landscape, and the 100-foot-wide main spring-fed pool nearby. The water is at least 97 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time and very clear. It is so flawlessly clear, you can see shades of aquamarine embedded in the pool’s bottom, giving the water an ethereal, bluish tint.
The main pool is about 3 to 4 feet deep, with a wood plank indicating a safe entry point. Approximately 20 feet from the plank is the source, which runs extremely hot. Pets and children are welcome, but seasoned enthusiasts recommend you secure your pet and keep kids away from the spring source. The area surrounding the springs, called the playa, can suck sneakers off your feet depending on weather conditions. Inquire beforehand about playa conditions to avoid messy mire.
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