Soak up history at hot springs to the south of Reno
Anne Kloepfer of Genoa Lake believes in the healing properties of the hot springs in which she frequently has soaked since the 1960s.
"It's the fountain of youth," she said, while relaxing in a pool at David Walley's Resort, Hot Springs and Spa in Genoa. "It's great."
There are several pools of hot, thermal water south of the Truckee Meadows, along the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada, to fall back in and enjoy. Whether it's skiers looking to soothe their aching muscles or seniors staving off Father Time, these pools are popular spots.
As communities sprouted in the late 1850s, so did bathhouses and spas, touting the curative features of the hot water, which has varying amounts of elements such as silica, sulfur, lithium and boron.
In 1854, William P. Cosser operated Nevada's first hot springs resort at the site where David Walley would open his business in 1862, according to state historian Guy Rocha in his essay "The Court of First Resort: Getting Into Hot Water."
As early as the 1860s, Steamboat Hot Springs, now on the southern edge of Reno, was a tourist destination where Dr. Joseph Ellis built a 34-bed hospital with at least six bathhouses, Rocha wrote.
Unlike the primitive hot springs that can be found north of Reno, many of the useable pools to the south are in developed structures.
Dr. Steven Recchia, a Reno hospitalist, said he now plans his vacations near hot springs. Although he has sampled developed hot springs, he said he prefers natural pools.
"It's just not my thing," he said of the resort style. "I like the wild ones."
From the posh Walley's resort to the laid-back Carson Hot Springs or the holistic-health atmosphere of Steamboat, there are plenty pools of hot water to explore in Northern Nevada.
Here are some hot springs south of Reno that are worth checking out:
The Healing Center and Spa at Steamboat Hot Springs
A white mist on the east side of Highway 395 just south of Mount Rose Highway rises like a sinuous spirit in the sagebrush, luring visitors to this Mission Revival-style spa.
"Our clients say there is a healing component to our water," said Rebecca Willis, marketing director.
The Steamboat resort, which is owned by the International Community of Christ, sits on four acres and borders Steamboat ditch. The spa, which is run by members of the church community, opened 12 years ago after an extensive remodel.
The hot water flows from an artesian well to one outside pool and seven private tubs. No chemicals are added to the recirculating water. While the outside pool remains between the health department's guideline of 102 and 104 degrees, people can adjust the private tubs to their liking. Plush terry robes hang in each private room.
The drop-in price for a 50-minute soak is $20. Spa memberships are offered at $58 per month for unlimited use of the mineral baths and steam room.
The facility is closed on Wednesdays.
Carson Hot Springs
This hot springs, about 30 miles south of Reno on the northeast side of Carson City, is the spring most similar to a community bathhouse experience and is frequented by locals.
There is a medium-sized swimming pool that is filled daily with 98-degrees spring water. Eight private tubs have water temperatures varying between 101 and 110 degrees.
"Some like it hot and this is where they come," said Penny Lewis, an employee. "This water feels like warm liquid silk."
There is nothing fancy about this facility, which is owned by Anchorage, Alaska, Mayor Mark Begich.
The outdoor pool is $10 for all day, $8 for seniors and children. The private tubs are $15 for two hours, $10 for seniors.
David Walley's Resort, Hot Springs and Spa
Eucalyptus embraces the senses when you walk in this popular, upscale resort just south of the town of Genoa and 43 miles south of Reno.
Bathers have a spectacular view of the Toiyabe National Forest from the seven outdoor pools, which range in temperature from 98 to 104 degrees. There also is a chlorinated pool that is kept at 89 degrees.
Because of the adjoining timeshare condominiums, the spa gets visitors from all over.
While the hot springs are the main feature, this spa offers a variety of body treatments. There's also a café that serves breakfast and lunch and a restaurant.
The daily charge is $20 per person, which includes use of the sauna, a towel and locker.
Grover Hot Springs
You can take a hike and then soak in these springs that are about 69 miles south of Reno and part of a state park.
Don't be surprised to hear different languages spoken while sitting in this hot pool that is situated on the edge of a pine forest. It's a popular spot for foreign tourists.
There's also an occupancy limit of 50 in the pool, so there might be a wait on weekends, especially during the summer.
The hot springs water is kept between 102 degrees and 104 degrees. There also is a regular pool that is kept between 75 and 80 degrees.
Facilities include bathrooms, showers and changing rooms.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children.