When Matt and I moved to Nevada, seeking out natural hot springs was on the top of our must do list. This book* has been incredibly helpful in finding places that are off the beaten path. One of our favorites is the Carson River Hot Springs, about 20 miles southwest of Gardnerville, Nevada.
We visit these hot springs in the fall and winter, when the river is low. This time of year is ideal for soaking not only because the water temperature is around 105 degrees, but because we can safely cross the river, by car or by foot. There are also very few people around, as the springs are frequented mainly by people rafting the river in the spring and summer.
The road to the hot spring is only about 8 miles from Highway 395, but sections of it are so gnarly that it takes about an hour to drive. It passes through a couple gates and a by a dilapidated house which was once private land but is now owned by the Forest Service.
You know you’re close when the East Carson River comes in to view, winding its way through the valley below. Next you drive over an extremely short but sketchy bridge, maneuver around a cluster of boulders, and head down a very steep hill when, at the bottom, you can see the geothermal water cascading over the rocks down to the river.
Staying overnight allows for plenty of soaking opportunities (a soak upon arrival, a late night soak before bed, and an early morning soak before heading out – sounds good to me!). There are no actual campsites here, but people have built up fire pits in the best spots to pitch your tent. There are no bathrooms or garbage cans either, so if you do visit the Carson River Hot Springs via the Carson River, Highway 395, or Markleeville, enjoy it! But please be respectful of this beautiful place and pack everything that you brought with you back out.
*The link to the book I recommend above is an affiliate link. This means if you were to buy that book from this link, you would pay the same price, but I would get a small compensation. I only link to things that I highly recommend. This book helps us discover new hot springs and guides us to them with all the useful information we needed.
I have updated the link to the latest edition of the book. The new addition has more maps and color photos! It still states that the road to the hot springs is partly on private land, but it is now all Forest Service property. If you’d like more information, contact the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.