While scientific research on balneology (the therapeutic use of thermal and mineral spas) is only just emerging, the mineral-rich waters of natural hot springs are widely credited with many physical and mental benefits. Hot springs continue to be as prized today as they ever were—even if just for the pleasing scenery and intense full-body relaxation a warm outdoor bath provides.
Nevada is home to over 300 natural hot springs. The following favorites provide beautiful scenery and are set in the western region, making them convenient weekend destinations for Californians.
1. Fish Lake Valley Hot Well
Adventurers will appreciate the quiet expanse of Fish Lake Valley, while newbies will find comfort in the simple man-made amenities of its poured concrete pool. Although it isn’t fancy, handrails and ladder keep this rustic hot spring easily accessible for most people. Its water temperature regularly hovers just over 100°. The surrounding warm pools and marshy brush make Fish Lake Valley a great destination for swimming, fish-watching and bird-watching in peace from spring through fall.
Located 40 miles west of Tonopah, between Dyer and Coaldale on Route 264 in Esmeralda County, Fish Lake Valley Hot Well is free to the public and can become busy on weekends with ATV traffic and RVers.
2. Carson Hot Springs
This resort located in Carson City offers hot springs with more creature comforts. Beach chairs, towels, on-site food and lockers mean you can easily spend a full day soaking up the sun and mineral water with a low-cost day pass. Unlike many hot springs that are unmanned, each tub at this resort is drained and refilled with spring water that varies from 93–110° (depending on pool and the time of year). Best of all, Carson Hot Springs offers private mini spa rooms that are clothing-optional and allow temperature control.
Carson Hot Springs is located at 1500 Old Hot Springs Road in Carson City. Admission is $13/day ($11 for kids and seniors), which includes a locker. Towels can be rented for $1, and private mini spas are $20/person for two hours ($15 for seniors).
3. Paradise Valley Hot Springs
On a remote stretch of Northern Nevada in the shadow of several mountain peaks is an unassuming collection of hot springs named for the surrounding panorama called Paradise Valley. Little Humboldt River flows nearby, and since the area is susceptible to flooding, check locally whether it’s accessible before making the trek. Besides pipes feeding into a large soaking trough and a rugged dirt parking area, there are no services at this free-access location—so this hot spring is best for those who are comfortable exploring and maybe losing GPS connectivity.
Paradise Valley Hot Springs is off Shelton Lane, east of Route 290 and about 20 miles southeast of Paradise Valley. Because some pools are too hot for soaking, be sure to test waters before entering.
4. Arizona Hot Spring
Active hikers may enjoy the challenge of finding Arizona Hot Spring, which is located in Lake Mead National Recreational Area a short distance from the Colorado River. The six-mile (round-trip) trail, which is closed throughout summer for its hazardous temperature, is estimated to take five hours because of its rocky volcanic terrain and 800-foot change in elevation to the slot canyon where the springs reside. Tired feet will appreciate the soothing 111° water at Arizona Hot Spring, while the mind will revel in the dramatic scenery of its narrow vertical walls.
Arizona Hot Spring is located 4.2 miles east of Hoover Dam off US Hwy 93. Watch for trailhead signs and follow the marked trail. Note that the hike includes climbing a 20’ ladder. Admission to Lake Mead Recreational Area is $25/car (for up to a week) or $15/person if hiking or biking in.
5. Soldier Meadows Hot Springs
Part of the Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area near the Black Rock Desert, Soldier Meadows is located in one the most treacherous areas of the Lassen-Applegate pioneer trail that led settlers to California. Marks of the original trail can still be spotted on this land that has remained virtually undisturbed for over 150 years. A campsite with parking area is located next to the main pool, but it’s also is home to several other springs, including a picturesque warm creek and a more private pool aptly named Hidden Spring. This location is ideal for a low-impact hike and peaceful camping. If civilization calls, the nearby Soldier Meadows Ranch and Lodge provides accommodations and access to additional springs—for a small fee, of course.
Soldier Meadows Hot Springs is located about 60 miles north of Gerlach on County Road 34. Lund Petrified Forest is along the drive.