Soak it up: Top hot springs to visit after hitting slopes at Tahoe
Special to the Sierra Sun
One of the most unique experiences one can have in Tahoe is catching a perfect powder day at one of Tahoe’s many ski resorts and then following up with a natural spa treatment at one of the surrounding hot springs.
For hundreds of years people have flocked to these mineral-rich spring-fed pools to relax, unwind, and absorb the healing properties that the springs offer. Here are the most prevalent hot springs in the Tahoe region:
1. Sierra Hot Springs Resort & Retreat Center, Sierraville
About an hour’s drive north of Truckee on Highway 89, the tiny town of Sierraville has a gas station, a Mexican restaurant, and a hot spring retreat in the heart of an alpine valley. Centuries ago, before anything was developed, American Indians quickly realized the healing powers of the sulfur-smelling pools and regarded them as sacred spaces. Fortunately, they are still open for the public to come take a dip in the warm waters that the managers say are “as smooth as silk”.
The Sierra Hot Springs is open year-round and features the Temple Dome Hot Pool (kept at 105-110° F).
It’s a comfortable circular pool that holds up to around 20 people and features a sandy bottom and accompanied by two cold plunge pools all underneath a stained-glass geometric dome.
Many people start out at this pool and then move to the outdoor warm pool with views of the surrounding mountains, starry sky, and likely in the snow. The outside pool is a bit cooler than the Temple Dome Hot Pool and holds more people.
After you’ve taken a dip in both pools then consider sweating out the rest of your body’s toxins in the sauna located next to the outside pool.
Anybody is welcome to visit, just keep in mind that these hot springs are clothing optional and many visitors enjoy them in the nude. There’s also a vegetarian-friendly restaurant on site. For more information, visit http://www.sierrahotsprings.org/.
2. Steamboat Hot Springs, South Reno
If you are staying somewhere in South Reno and skiing in Tahoe, then visiting Steamboat Hot Springs is right on your way back from the mountains. Steamboat Hot Springs has been around since the Gold Rush era, when traveling settlers noticed steam coming out of the cracks in the rocks and a 60-foot geyser drew attention. A two-room shed was built over place in 1861- one for a bathtub and one to act as a steam room.
Nowadays, several private rooms each have a bathtub allowing one to control their own temperature along with a shower to rinse off in.
Each room has a stained-glass window allowing light of a distinct color flow through, invoking certain feelings, emotions, and energy.
The geothermal mineral water encapsulated in Steamboat’s pools are chocked full of calcium carbonate, magnesium, sodium sulfate, and carbon dioxide (as well as high levels of lithia, sulfur, soda, and silica).
Steamboat also offers massage services including Ayurveda, sonatherapy, and cancer care. Steamboat Hot Springs are open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (and until 9 p.m., Thursday-Saturday); reservations are required. For more information, visit https://steamboatsprings.org/.
3. David Walley’s Resort, Genoa
Travelling on Highway 395 heading east past Carson City is the little town of Genoa, known for its annual candy festival and serving patrons drinks out of Nevada’s oldest saloon.
However, amongst the vast ranchland at the base of towering snow-capped mountain peaks, there’s also the clean and well-maintained hot pools at David Walley’s Resort.
Established in 1862, David Walley’s has condo-style accommodations and villas; a full-service restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with a bar, and five heated mineral spas and swimming pool fed by Mother Nature herself.
David Walley’s is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; a $50 all day access pass includes access to the hot spring spas, swimming pool, eucalyptus steam rooms, dry saunas, and locker rooms.
For more information, visit https://www.davidwalleys1862.com/home.
4. Carson Hot Springs, Carson City
The historic Carson Hot Springs have also invited people from all over the world to try out their thermal spring water and continue the European custom of “taking the cure” which consists of soaking in the hot pools, rubbing mineral-rich mud onto the skin, and drinking the water.
The water comes from 35,000 feet beneath the Earth’s surface and its mix of sodium, sulfate, chloride, silica, potassium, calcium, lithium, magnesium, and more helps balance the body’s pH and strengthen teeth and bones.
As pioneers continued west during the Gold Rush era, Thomas Swift migrated to Carson City and built a hotel and bathhouses in 1849.
A few years later in 1882, James Shaw took over the property, created a “plunge” for guests and sold bottled mineral water.
Then in 1910, its owners changed the name to Carson Hot Springs and currently continues to operate a large outdoor swimming pool and nine indoor private pools.
The facilities at Carson are clean, safe, and family friendly; they recently added a restaurant and brewery.
The Carson Hot Springs are open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; two-hour sessions to access the outdoor swimming pool and indoor private tubs range from $10-$25 per person.
For more information, visit https://carsonhotsprings.com/.
5. Grover Hot Springs State Park, Markleeville
About a half hour outside of South Lake Tahoe on State Route 88 (closest to Kirkwood Mountain Resort), California State Parks manages a campground that also includes some hot springs called the Grover Pool Complex.
This naturally hot outdoor swimming pool is open year-round and keeps a cold plunge pool. Like many of the other hot springs in the area, people have frequented these pools for more than 100 years, relaxing in the warm waters as they enjoy views of a meadow and surrounding mountain range.
Hours vary in the wintertime and reservations must be made online 48 hours in advance through http://www.reservecalifornia.com.
It costs $10 per person for a 1.5-hour session and parking is an additional $8 fee. Grover is the perfect place to go if you are staying in South Lake Tahoe or want to do some winter camping. For more information, visit http://parks.ca.gov/?page_id=508.
6. Brockway Springs, North Lake Tahoe
There is a hot spring that’s on the shoreline of Lake Tahoe, but unfortunately it’s not open to the public.
In the late 19th century, a hot spring was discovered boiling out of a gigantic rock and business partners Billy Campbell and Henry Burke bought the 63 acres surrounding it in 1870.
They built a boathouse and a hotel and throughout the years it changed names and managers, being called everything from the “Warm Springs Hotel” to the “Carnelian Hot Sulfur Springs.”
It was rebuilt as a condominium project in the 1980s where it remains a private community managed by the Brockway Springs Property Owners Association.
Be Sure to Call Ahead Due to COVID-19 Restrictions
Lake Tahoe is a region rich in its natural environment and soaking in hot spring-fed pools is a way to relax and revitalize the mind and body. However, due to COVID-19 operations have changed at many of these places so be sure to call ahead and/or check their website for updated information.
For more information, visit https://brockwaysprings.com/.
Editor’s Note: This article appears in the 2020-21 edition of Tahoe Magazine, a sister publication to the Sierra Sun.
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