By Eric Cachinero
A natural hot spring is a place in the earth’s crust where groundwater, which is heated by geothermal energy, emerges. When groundwater makes contact with hot rocks or magma, the water is heated—often to boiling temperatures—which then rises to the surface where it develops into hot springs and geysers.
Many of Nevada’s natural hot springs offer a chance to experience the pleasure of soaking in a hot tub while enjoying the vast expanses of the Nevada wilderness. While some of Nevada’s hot springs are too hot for people to enter, many of optimal temperature can be accessed.
Soldier Meadows Hot Springs
North of the Black Rock Desert and Gerlach lies popular soaking area, Soldier Meadows. Soldier Meadows is unique in that the springs form a hot creek in which people have built man-made dams, causing hot-tub-sized soaking pools to form. Because of about 45 miles of dirt road between the Black Rock Desert and the springs, a four-wheel drive vehicle is necessary. There is a designated camping area, which includes fire rings, picnic tables, and a vault toilet. A very short walk from the campground, the pools are best enjoyed during the cool fall and spring months.
Ash Springs gives Las-Vegas-area residents a quick escape from the big-city atmosphere. Located 108 miles north of Las Vegas, Ash Springs is a great day-trip destination. The springs average water temperatures from around 80 to 92 degrees, which provides a warm swim. Although no camping is allowed at the spring, a designated RV camping area is nearby. Visitors can also enjoy picnicking, hiking, and petroglyphs in the area.
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 spring. Even well-known springs can drastically change temperatures, so testing each time will ensure you don’t jump into too hot of water. 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. Often times Nevada hot springs are located in remote areas. Be sure you bring a proper map and make sure to let people know where you are going before embarking.
-While falling ill from swimming in hot springs is extremely rare, there is still the possibility that it could happen. Some hot springs contain amoebas that can be harmful to humans, but are said only to cause harm if they enter through the nasal passage. 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 spring. 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.
The Adventure Awaits
It is easy to become hooked on hot springs. The allure of discovering your own private soaking pool—some virtually in the middle of the Nevada desert—can be very rewarding.