Double Hot Springs
It’s no surprise that the Black Rock Desert—an area known for stunning landscapes, and untamed remoteness—is home to an impressive series of some of Nevada’s best natural hot springs. Nevada is home to the most natural hot springs in the United States, which can be found throughout the state. A large pocket of handful of natural hot springs can be found along the edge of that iconic Playa, made famous by the Burning Man arts festival held here each year. Ruggedly remote, accessing these hot springs is no easy feat and requires the skills of an experienced offroad driver, and when accessing safely and responsibly, Double Hot Springs are the type of restorative natural high desert oasis you won’t soon forget.
HISTORIC DOUBLE HOT SPRINGS
The Northern Paiute were the first people to have lived in, and occupied the Great Basin. Calling this region home for more than 10,000 years, this group of people were the first to use these the natural hot springs surrounding the Black Rock Desert, utilizing the plants, animals, and rocks that you can still see near the springs today, as food, fiber and tools. By the mid 1800s, the California Gold Rush was in full swing, with thousands of pioneers making their way west in hopes of grabbing onto their piece of the American Dream.
The California Trail—which stretched across the western half of the United States, bringing thousands West—continued through Nevada, with an offshoot to northern California and Oregon. Named the Applegate Trail, this brought people from central Nevada through northwestern Nevada, through the Black Rock Desert. Traversing such an inhospitable environment with sweltering temperatures, no shade, water or vegetation was a gruelling task—it wasn’t until reaching various natural springs, and eventually Soldier Meadows that settlers could rest and restock crucial supplies. When visiting this rugged corner of Nevada, keep an eye out for intact portions of the original trail that can still be seen, as the area has remained mostly untouched for more than 150 years.
VISITING DOUBLE HOT SPRINGS TODAY
Early emigrants embraced extremely high temps found at Double Hot Springs to boil their beans—no really—and though environmental change happens almost constantly and varying temperatures are common at natural hot springs, Double Hot has remained dangerously hot. As the name suggests, two large pools with scalding hot water are found here at the source, consistently clocking in around 180 degrees. These hot springs are fenced, with adequate warning signs—please do not attempt to enter or access these hot springs, and do not let dogs in or near the area.
Seeing these historically relied upon dual cauldrons is fun to admire from outside the perimeter fence, and to access safe, soakable pools, follow the dirt road that leads to the northwest. Here, visitors will find a small, metal cattle trough—or Cowboy Tub—that can be filled with hot spring water. Though this water on this BLM-managed hot spring is essentially runoff from the much hotter source, water temps will still be very high, and often times take hours to cool down in order to safely enjoy. Practice good hot springing etiquette by checking water temps before entering any bodies of natural hot spring water.
When exploring Nevada’s beautiful backcountry, always remember to travel prepared. Remember to bring a spare tire (a tire patch kit wouldn’t hurt either,) extra fuel, and plenty of food and water. This is a spectacular section of Nevada, but is also one of the state’s most rugged and remote. It proves to be a great way to hit reset, but remember this: you will be in fact be disconnected from cell service and away from all modern conveniences like restaurants and gas stations. Do not attempt to travel in this area unless you’ve come equipped with a high clearance, 4 wheel drive vehicle.
Travel smart and plan ahead. Before embarking on Black Rock Desert adventures swing through the Friends of Black Rock office in Gerlach for the most up to date Playa and surrounding area conditions. To plan ahead, dial Friends of Black Rock directly at (775) 557-2900.