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Spencer Hot Springs, 12 miles east of Austin, NV

The cave tour this morning was fine ““ Lehman Cave is exceptionally well decorated, with wonderful examples of columns, soda straws, and “shields,” which are rarely found. It was also a nice warm up to enter the 50 degree cave, since at 7000 feet the temperature hovered in the mid-30s all morning.

And then we embarked on America’s Loneliest Highway again. Next stop, 85 miles to Ely. We got fuel, propane, dumped the tanks and ate lunch all at the Silver Sage Travel Center ““ a typical “eat food get gas” operation in the center of that very small town in the middle of nowhere.

Eleanor says I am not giving the lunch stop enough credit. A sandwich bar inside the travel center called Boondoggles made us sandwiches. Eleanor got the Atomic Toaster sandwich, which she says is great.

Next stop, 67 miles to Eureka. Then 80 miles to Austin. And so on “¦ long stretches of near-nothingness interspersed with tiny western towns and speed traps. (They are serious about the 25 MPH limit in Eureka, as a trucker we spotted can testify. It’s a hard adjustment from 75 MPH.)

The scenery, however, remains wonderful. There’s always something uniquely western to see, a Pony Express station, a salt flat, a dust devil, a canyon begging for exploration. I never got bored driving. And occasionally there are interesting little roadside sites to check out, like the Petroglyphs Recreation Area we stopped at. Here’s Eleanor pointing out a petroglyph to Emma. Home schooling in action!


At Great Basin National Park I bought a book of natural hot springs in Nevada and California. We identified one in central Nevada, for which the directions go something like this: “Twelve miles east of Austin, turn south off US 50 to Rt 387. After one hundred yards, turn left onto an unmarked dirt road and proceed about 5.5 miles to a left. Turn here and continue about 3 miles to a fork, then bear right for another 1.6 miles.”

These directions brought us out into a place that is so far from ANYTHING that calling it the middle of nowhere would be a compliment. We are parked on a slight hill so that we can see clearly that there is hardly any sign of civilization for miles around. About 300 feet from our spot are three pools fed by a natural hot spring which bubbles from the earth at about 110 degrees. In other words, it’s perfect.


We arrived at sunset and I got these pictures. Of course the first thing we did after snapping a few shots was to throw on our swimsuits and drop into the second pool, which is lined with stones and runs about 100 degrees, or fifty degrees warmer than the air temperature. Ahhhhhhh”¦


We do have two neighbors. About ¼ mile to the north there is a large white “toy hauler” RV, and we’ve seen the occupants come by on their four-wheeler. They gave a friendly wave and disappeared. And a family showed up just after sunset with a couple of young kids to go swimming as well.

Tomorrow morning I plan to go for another swim in the mineral waters. And then, sadly, we’ll debark.

Misc note: a bag of potato chips exploded sometime while we were at high altitude. It might have been while at 11,000 ft on I-70. We had potato chips with dinner tonight.

2 Responses to “Spencer Hot Springs, 12 miles east of Austin, NV”

  1. Carrie Says:

    Been there – isn’t it a great hotspring? We love it there and can’t wait to go back, on our way from Colorado to Oregon. There is an awesome cave a few miles down the road, past the hotsprings that is loaded with rock art (petroglyphs/pictographs).

  2. Ira Larivers Says:

    I remember Spencer’s when there was a conventional pool there – that must be between 40 and 45 years ago. In the mid ’70’s there was a two-roomed cabin on the site, with a large tub in the one half. A brilliant piece of Nevada – one I hope to visit again one day.