Nevada proudly boasts more hot springs than any other state. If you’ve soaked in one, you know what blissful sanctuaries they truly are. But let’s keep it that way. Do the homework, pack the right gear, embrace the required etiquette, and you’ll be set to get yourself in the right kind of hot water.
Home of Most Natural Hot Springs in the U.S.
State of Nevada
People have sought after and loved a good soak for centuries. Many Nevada hot springs are in a natural pool, old bathtub, or, in classic Nevada style, a “cowboy tub”—AKA a reimagined, upcycled cattle trough—with water flowing or piped into it from a nearby source. If that’s a little too backcountry for ya, there are softer places to land—think resort hot springs ranging from kid-friendly pools to luxury spa getaways paired with wellness treatments.
But if you’d rather go wild than mild, it’s Nevada’s natural hot springs you’re after. It’s a whole subculture begging to be explored, but you gotta know a thing or two before you ease in with both feet. And just to make sure your experience at our cherished desert hot springs is equal parts satisfying and restorative, but—more importantly—also respectful and responsible, we’ve got a few tips before you head out. Get to know this handy hot springs how-to, then get out there and dip those toes in.
Hot Springs How-To
Know Before You Soak
Google Maps Ain’t Gonna Cut It. In rural Nevada, Google Maps are just about as handy as a full-on scuba setup on the Black Rock Desert Playa. Spring for a topo map or even better, invest in a super-detailed atlas and get down on some good, old-fashioned navigating.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Live by the Buddy System. Heading out for the weekend? It’s a smart idea to let a friend know what section of Nevada you’re heading to and it’s always a good idea to bring friends along with you—for company and safety—when you’re exploring the unknown.
Grab the Right Garments. Many Nevada hot springs are surrounded by a muddy alkali surface that you won’t be able to drive on. When hunting down a spring, plan to park a good way away, whether there’s weather or not. It’s smart to pack a pair of shoes that you’re not afraid to get messy in. Another foolproof trick? Bring a cozy après-soak robe, outfit, or even a spare swimsuit (if that’s your thing), because who wants to spring-hop in wet clothes?
What Dress Code? It’s normal to rock up to a spring and find everyone in suits—of the swim or birthday variety. While there is no set rule, respect and courtesy go a long way. Don’t worry; if you find a tub full of bare-it-all bathers, no one will make you “follow suit.” But likewise, if you show up underdressed to a shirts-and-shorts convention, gauge the group. They should be OK with you strippin’ down, but you may want to ask politely, or at least slip in discreetly. As in the rest of life, just don’t be a weirdo and the good times should flow for everyone.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Don’t Put Yourself in the Hot Seat. Things can change fast out here, including thermal activity, so always check the temperature before hopping in. Done tubbing? If there’s a valve to control flow, leave a trickle—not a raging torrent—to keep the water primed for its next guests. And with extremely hot pools often nearby, be sure to keep close tabs on your pups, too, especially if you’re camping overnight.
Don’t Get Too In-Tents. Park your tents, vans, and other sleep vessels far enough from the spring that your campsite doesn’t hog the view, hijack the spring’s ambiance, or scare off any local critters who rely on it as a life source. Private property? Camping is frowned upon without permission or a sign that says you can. Campfires are fun, but be aware of all local restrictions and NEVER leave one smoldering; make sure that bad boy is drowned out before you hit the sack or the road.
Leave It How You Found It. Being a good steward is what hot springing is all about. There are phenomenal hot springs on private land, and many Nevada ranchers out here let people enjoy them as long as they don’t trash them. If the gate on the road is open, leave it open. If you found the gate closed, close the gate once you’ve passed through. And of course, anything you pack in (or happen to find that shouldn’t be there), always pack it out.
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There are dozens and dozens of other Nevada hot springs that are NOT mentioned here, and we’re doing our damnedest to keep it that way. In fact, the only ones you’ll ever hear us talk about by name are well-known, classic Nevada hot springs located squarely on public land, which have already been long loved by locals and travelers alike. Plus, would you really want us to show you all our cards? Finding them is half the fun.
Look too good to be true? It’s not. It’s in our backyard. You’re probably not gonna be able to post it until you get back on the grid, but don’t forget to tag #NVHotSprings to get featured here. Heck, if we love your photo, you may find it here. Happy soaking.