Fresh air and sunshine are known to boost well-being — and there’s nothing like a hot bath to melt away stress. Why not combine all three, and visit a relaxing natural hot spring? Especially since we’re lucky to be surrounded by opportunities to soak our bones in geothermally heated water.
For the closest natural soak, look no further than the Hoover Dam — one of the best hot springs I’ve been to is right at the base of the dam, on the Nevada side of the Colorado River. You’ll need to do a bit of bouldering to reach the hot springs at the river’s edge. But those who brave the 2½-mile scramble down beautiful Goldstrike Canyon will be rewarded with a challenging workout, followed by a restorative soak in the multiple pools fed by hot waterfalls cascading down the canyon walls and over spectacular rock formations.
Arizona Hot Springs
If bouldering isn’t your thing, fear not — drive a few more miles beyond the dam, and take the less technical hike down to the aptly named Arizona Hot Springs. After reaching the river’s edge, hang a left and you’ll find yourself hiking through warm water that comes flowing down a dramatic, narrow slot canyon, the end of which is filled with clear, gravel-bottomed soaking pools of varying temperatures … which can only be reached by climbing a metal ladder bolted (securely) to the rock wall. Conquer the ladder, and be rewarded with one of the best hot soaks around.
Alkali Hot Spring
Since they’re so close to town, the previous two soaks might get crowded on weekends. Those seeking solitude should head north on U.S. Highway 95 for a few hours to a tiny stone tub in the high desert about halfway between Goldfield and Tonopah. Surrounded by sagebrush, wild burros and antelope, Alkali Hot Spring is a bit, let’s say, spartan — but when the sun sets you can enjoy dark skies, unparalleled stargazing and the therapeutic peace of the middle of nowhere.
Rogers Warm Spring
Closer to town yet usually virtually deserted, Rogers Warm Spring in Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers two opportunities to soak. While the water in the other pools on this list clocks in at more than 100 degrees, Rogers Spring is usually around 82 — perfect for a warm autumn day in the desert. Bring a pool float and drift around the vast, shallow, tree-lined main pond, or cross the bridge and enjoy a rock-lined bathtub pool hidden amid palm trees at the base of a waterfall. No hiking required — you can drive right up. There’s even a bathroom.
For those seeking a truly restorative retreat, the answer lies just over the California line outside Death Valley. The tiny town of Tecopa is home to multiple hot springs — book a room at one of the resorts in town and bathe in developed spa pools, or head to the desert just outside town to the wild spring: a piping hot pond surrounded by lush grasses in the middle of a surreally beautiful minimalist moonscape. The bottom of the pond is lined with thick bentonite clay, said to draw out toxins — do a mudpack, or just relax in the all-encompassing silence.