A Day at the Carson River Hot Springs

Carson River Hot SpringsWhen 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.

1st river crossingScary HouseThe 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.

Carson River in the fall

Carson River Hot Springs

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.

Soaking in the Hot Spring2nd Hot SpringView from the hot springSpring WaterOur feet

 Campsite at Carson RiverCarson River Hot Springs Campsite with Headlamp*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.

9 thoughts

    1. How can I get a hold of a GPS map of the road there? We know the turnoff from 395… but we got into trouble. We were able to get out, but the road we took didn’t look ANYWHERE as safe as you all! Any leads?

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      1. You could check with the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest – the Carson Ranger District, but I think they just have a map of the forest. Other than the hot springs book I mentioned, I don’t know of any other resources. After you turn onto Leviathan Mine Rd. and you keep to the right at the first fork – the initial part of the road had definitely deteriorated over the years – it looked like a dried up riverbed with large rocks, not a proper road. BUT, after the heavy winter a couple years ago, I hear the roads are far worse, maybe completely impassable by car.

        It may be that the only way to currently access those hot springs are on foot or via the river.

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  1. Hi! Can you help me get directions to the hot springs via accessible roads? I have read that some of the access roads are now closed off. Not familiar with the are (live in the west side Sierra Nevada), so would love some help finding a map. Great photos! Thanks, Julia

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    1. Hey there! I recommend picking up a copy of the book Touring Hot Springs California and Nevada by Matt Bischoff, it guided us out there the first time we visited (and it was after dark!). I’m not aware of any maps that have the roads to the springs on them (yet). Also, I think the only route that takes you directly to the hot springs by car is off of Highway 395, it’s called Leviathan Mine Rd. and when the road splits, you stay to the right. After that, the book comes in handy since there are several smaller roads that go off in different directions.
      If you plan on camping near the hot springs, you might want to call the Carson Ranger District (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest) in advance to make sure it’s still cool – there has been talk of restricting camping around there but I haven’t heard of any new rules yet.
      I hope that answers your question. Thanks for stopping by!

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