I love natural hot springs. I love their obscure locations, the peculiar geological formations they create, and the eccentric characters they attract. There’s something about hot effervescent water bubbling up from somewhere deep within the Earth’s core that fosters a sense of wonder and respect towards our natural world.
My search for strange and wonderful hot springs has sent me bushwhacking outside of Bozeman, exploring near the oil refineries in Salt Lake City, and scouring the banks of Idaho’s Salmon River. But one of the strangest hot springs I’ve seen takes very little effort to find and lies right alongside a major highway in the middle of Nevada.
Warm Springs Nevada combines two of my favorite things: hot springs and abandoned buildings. Located at the junction of US 6 and Nevada 375 (aka the Extraterrestrial Highway), Warm Springs is an abandoned hot springs resort and ghost town. All that remains of the town is a few abandoned shacks, an old bar with a pool table and random furniture still inside, and an old pool, that until recently still had free flowing hot mineral water running through it.
When I visited last, someone had diverted the flow of the springs so it no longer runs through the pool. There was also a new barbed wire fence to keep the cattle in (or hippies out) and more keep out signs, which of course I adhered to. Someone had already bent the fence so you could carefully squeeze through without getting caught in the wire.
The source of the springs is high up on the hillside above the old bathhouse. The hot water runs down from the hillside carving out a ditch that looks just like a bobsled track. It is the most eerie place, like the perfect setting for some Stephen King novel. You’re lucky to see a single car pass on the highway while you’re exploring the old spa grounds and you’re going to be more worried about aliens breaking out from Area 51, a zombie rising from the depths of the old pool, and nuclear fallout than seeing a soul and getting reprimanded for disregarding a few “keep out” signs.
I doubt Warm Springs was ever a destination resort, probably more of a stopping point on the way to the Sierra Nevadas, just like it still is for me today.
This post was originally published on my old Dirtbag Writer site, which I have recently resurrected so I am going to post some of my favorite old content here over the next couple of weeks.