Nevada is located atop seismic fault zones where fissures in the earth bring the brimstone close to the desert’s mantle. Ten thousand feet below the ground, flowing water comes in contact with superheated rock, bringing to the surface steam vents, geysers, and hot springs. When I approach one of these thermal features, a surreal oasis interrupting the ordinary landscape, I feel connected to the inner warmth of life’s cradle, a visitor to the world of geological time.
Spencer Hot Springs consists of a series of pools, each one conveniently separated by enough landscape to provide privacy. The best may be the stone-lined pool on a rise with a commanding view of the Big Smokey Valley, the Toiyabe Range to the west and the Toquima Range to the east.
The pool sits just below the source of the spring, which fills the pool from a short length of pipe. At the bubbling source, a shallow cauldron of 140° water, the BLM sign warns: Water from natural springs may be scalding.
You might think that the folks inclined to jump into hot ponds without first checking the temperature would’ve been taken out of the thermal pool, not to mention the gene pool, by natural selection. But apparently the BLM doesn’t share my confidence in evolution.
Spencer Hot Springs is about 20 miles east of Austin on U.S. 50 and NV 376.
Click here to see the location in Google Maps