While most visitors would dismiss Central Nevada’s Big Smoky Valley as just another ‘sea of sagebrush,’ one of Nevada’s most amazing places in inconspicuously tucked around a corner: Spencer Hot Springs. Although it has become increasingly well-known in recent years, the remote location is key to the level of relaxation that is found in this amazing geothermal hotspot.
Many Native Americans residing in the area thousands of years ago likely took advantage of these lush springs, seemingly around every bend. While hot springs are common in the area, Spencer’s is a cluster of natural springs on public land. While the land is open to the public, some hot spring aficionados have made small yet significant improvements to the area throughout the years, majorly intensifying your enjoyment at the springs.
With three, sometimes four, bathing spots on the premises, most of these baths are made from cattle troughs, with props constructed for the springs water to filter inside the tub. These metal tubs are ideal for winter months, as the water seems to stay warmer longer when housed in a metal container. However, one tub was created with concrete, which seems to provide a more natural experience as visitors are ground level [versus raised in a tub.] Water temperatures consistently sit around 140 degrees farenheit year-round, so Spencer Hot Springs are particularly enjoyable in the winter months.
A highly charming herd of wild burros lives in this valley and are a definite enhancement to your hot springing experience!
From Austin, travel approximately 12 miles east on U.S. Highway 50, intersects with State Route 376. Turn South on SR 376, and after 0.3 miles, take an immediate left onto a dirt road [marked by a road sign for Toquima Cave.] Travel the dirt road for approximately 6 miles. The springs will be on your left.
While everyone loves an authentic hot springing experience, please be aware that this is a natural environment and the area is subject to spontaneous changes. Always be sure to test the water before committing, and be very careful when bringing children and dogs in the area [as dogs like to jump in open bodies of water.] More than half the hot springs in Nevada’s public lands are much hotter than 140 degrees, which imposes a very dangerous situation. Other things to be aware of are loss of consciousness from chemical fumes, cuts from sharp unforeseen rocks/broken glass and bacterial infections. We only want to hear of positive experiences at this amazing location, so just remember to be aware of your natural surroundings and keep a close eye on children and pets!
Always test the temperature of the water before getting in a natural hot spring. 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 trouble. 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 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.