While some out-of-staters may dismiss the Big Smoky Valley as just another “sea of sagebrush”, veteran hot springs enthusiasts—or super-soakers, as we like to call ‘em— will know that buried in these foothills is one of the most reliable hot spring soaks in Nevada. Here, visitors and locals alike have flocked to Spencer Hot Springs, and has become more popular in recent years due to one little factor: its reliability. Of all the natural hot springs found throughout Nevada, Spencer Hot Springs always seems to be perfect no matter what time year you hit it.
Many American Indians residing in the area thousands of years ago likely took advantage of these lush springs, which seem to be quite prominent throughout the region. While hot springs are common in the area, Spencer’s is a cluster of natural springs on public land, managed by the Bureau of Land Management. While the land is open to the public and accessible for all, some hot spring stewards 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—or Cowboy Tubs— with irrigated natural hot spring water piped into the tub. This single feature makes Spencer Hot Springs a desirable soak: you can control the temperature by moving the water source in and out of the tub, making a soak here ideal no matter what the season is. Two of the three tubs here are made from metal Cowboy Tubs, while one is a natural, mud bottom. At the source, water temperatures consistently sit around 130 fahrenheit year-round, and right around the low hundreds in the runoff, soaking tubs. No matter which you decide to kick back in, there's no wrong way of watching the sun drop behind the Toiyabe Mountains in this enchanting off-grid oasis.
TravelNevada PRO TIP: While visiting Spencers, keep your eyes and ears peeled for a charming herd of wild burros—the Hickison Burro Herd—who have called Big Smoky home for eons. Please remember your Hot Spring Etiquette and do not park on top of the source, as these springs are a water source for many Great Basin creatures.