It has been a few decades since I last visited the Lehman Caves. Once again I find travelling in the winter to be the best choice of all. During the summer there are ongoing back to back tours of the caves that max out at 20 people. This time of year, four of us went on the only tour of the day. Reservations are still recommended!
Outside Austin, Nevada, staying at the most unusual and unlikely B&B to be found in the high desert of Reese Valley, the Paradise Ranch Castle. A great deal, and great meals, Donna will make you the best dinner in Austin on top of a breakfast that will last all day. Check out the accompanying website and story on this most unique accommodation.
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.
Spencer Hot Springs circa 1980. - When I first started using Spencer Hot Spring (Austin, Nevada) as a stopover on my journeys between CA and CO, there was an old corrugated tin shack in the middle of nowhere. The braced wall on the right of the shack shows the end of a concrete trough that was housed in the shack which made the perfect soaking tub. (Water was piped down the hill and came in from outside thorugh a piece of channel iron acting as a flume. Candles in the evening gave this shack the perfect ambiance. The main part of the cabin had an easy chair and wood stove, as well as a bed I never slept in. The outhouse off to the right disappeared over the years as people tore it down for firewood. Nearby was the top edge of a swimming pool the BLM had filled years earlier against liability.
Tub remnant. This is all that is left of the tub that was located in the little tin shack. Local people tried to dig out the old swimming pool and the BLM came in and completely removed that option as well. The area is now well served by a number of natural pools and cattle troughs set into the ground.