Experiencing my first hot spring was one goal I had when I road tripped the Loneliest Road in America. I see all of the glamorous shots of sitting in an open pool of fresh, steaming water and it looks so enticing. Here’s the reality of experiencing my first natural hot spring.
I was road tripping with another female travel blogger. I had met her on my trip to Las Vegas and we were paired up for tours and such. It was Day 2 of our excursion to drive from Carson City, Nevada to Kingston, Nevada and then call it a night. It was late in the day, and we could see the sun starting to go down over the mountains. We decided to skip some things on our itinerary in order to make it to the desert before dark.
The Loneliest Road lives up to its name. We rarely saw another car on Highway 50, but the landscapes were so vast and sweeping I preferred having it all to ourselves.
So after chasing the sun, I was told to turn off onto a small town street and drive until it turned into a blacktop road. Then it turned into a mix of gravel and sand. Tumbleweeds blew past us and we went over the hilly road (and I use that term loosely). We turned a bend and all she said was “go up”. And then I knew why we rented four wheel drive.
There it was. A small, unassuming, little swimming hole with a handcrafted wooden bench. You could sit on the bench and dip your ankles in, but that’s not what we were there for. At our last travel stop in Middleton, we had put our swimsuits on under our clothes. We peeled them off in the golden hour.
First, I had to figure out how to get in. You walk through the dirt, basically, to the edge of the hole. That’s literally what it is, a hole in the ground. The water from under the crust seeps up, which is why it’s warm. I would say it was a warm spring, not hot. The best way I can describe it would be like a warm bath if the bathtub was made of mud. The mud walls and mud floor are soft and warm, and a little gushy. It is slippery.
But experiencing my first hot spring was also like immersing myself into nature. Literally. The sun setting into the mountains. The light reflecting off the pool. The sound of the wind blowing across the open plains, blowing through my hair. The contrast of the strong breeze getting colder as the sun set and the warm water. Freedom mixed with adventure.
Then we had company. A herd of wild burros and a wild horse or two came strolling through. Jack rabbits were everywhere, scurrying to get home safe before nightfall.
We remembered we should probably not be hanging out in the dark in the middle of nowhere either. We jumped out and dried off. Then I realized I was so excited to experience the hot spring that I forgot to take photos. So, we had to get back in again to get our photo shots.
This time it wasn’t so pleasant. The mud felt almost slimy, and for some reason stuck to us as we climbed out this time. So now it’s almost dark. I have wet slimy mud on me, and realized when we changed into our swimsuits back in Middleton we packed them away in our bags, now buried under our stuff.
She made the decision to pull her clothes over her wet suit, jump in the car and blast the heat. I took one more look at the sky and the horses and said… (you know what I said). I stripped down to nothing, now feeling that strong cold wind whip against my bare skin, standing in the shadows as the last bit of sun slowly sunk into a indigo night. It was amazing. A moment I will never forget.
So yeah, I’m standing there naked in the desert, freezing, just watching the sunset. I’m sure my travel partner thought I was crazy at this point. I pulled my pants and t-shirt back on, and drove into the night, commando. We still had a few hours until our final destination. She was shivering, the cold mud not drying, oh and by the way, doesn’t smell so great out of the hot spring. I still had that feeling of freedom with me until we got to our cabin and we each showered.
Would I road trip to experience this hot spring to do it again? Absolutely.
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