03 Jun Saline Valley Hot Springs
Saline Valley Hot Springs was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I researched photo’s on the internet but even my web search skills failed to prepare me for the contrasts the environment displayed. Saline Valley Hot Springs is truly an oasis in the desert…I went on this trip before I decided to start blogging so the pictures are few.
Life is full of surprises. John Major
Your in the Desert
No Permits Required
No Water...bring your own
High Clearance 4X4 Vehicles Only
3 Hour Hard Drive
Washboard, Washouts & Sand
The best advice I received before attempting the drive to Saline Valley Hot Springs was…Bring your own water, make sure…MAKE SURE you have a good spare tire but two spare tires would be better, take some fix-a-flat and finally, you better have a full tank of gas when you start. Now that I’ve completed the trip I can see the importance of all three of these potential issues. The first part of the dirt road was fun…for the first hour. When I reached the point where I was driving on winding roads and it was clear rocks had just fallen onto the road, I began to question my decision to tackle this adventure. A friend was following in another truck so that added a feeling of security. After about an hour and a half he decided the drive was too far for his taste.
My passengers anxious to get to the springs…I pressed on. The washboard road was so bad I had to go about 25 mph. I was passed by a Ford Raptor designed specifically with this type of road in mind. I wish I had one. Suddenly…and you never want to have suddenlies when you are in the middle of nowhere…my trucks air conditioner decided it was time to stop working. Later when I got home I found out the washboard rattled the truck so much the air conditioner line cracked…go figure…in the desert. Finally the road turning on to the springs appeared. It could’ve easily been missed. The road was now smooth…smooth with sand and undulations that were actually fun to drive. It still seemed to take forever to reach the springs…at least now I could see them in the distance…the distance…it never seemed to get closer.
For this blog I won’t go into too much detail about getting to Saline Valley Hot Springs. There are two basic ways in and two other ways for the four-wheelers. A quick internet search will get you what you need if you desire to take on this challenge.
Saline Valley Hot Springs
There are three hot spring areas. Lower Springs, Middle Springs and Upper Springs. When I first pull up to Saline Valley Hot Springs (lower) there was a green patch of grass and a fence around the most well kept area. As I walked through the main entrance I saw grass to my right where people are laying around on towels or in hammocks, a few tables for card or board games. There is a small spring directly in front of me and to the left a place to rinse of before the soak. I was taken with how clean it was. Even the pit toilets were immaculately kept. There was nothing fast about his oasis. There was no hurry for anything except maybe a nap.
We jumped in the truck and drove around to find a secluded place for our campsite. We camped between the lower and middle springs. Where we camped we could not see anyone…that’s just the way I like it.
I took a walk toward the middle springs. There are two on each side of the large area. I chose the one to the right and made that one my new home. There were very few people…maybe 20 in the whole area….perfect…I know! At the middle spring there is a place to hand wash your clothes, take a shower and throw a hammock up. There is not much grass and shade is limited too, compared to the lower spring. This spring was larger and could fit probably 20 people.
I never took the trip to the upper spring…I guess it is just my thing…when I find a good spot…why leave it.
Everyone Pitches In
The reason Saline Valley Hot Springs is so well kept is the people who are visiting and the leadership (whomever they are) have set a precedence. Basically…you visit…you help. On my last day there, three of us men, drained the spring, scrubbed it and filled it back up again. It took us about an hour and it made me feel like I was contributing to the…family.
Many people pitch in by providing reports on what is needed and how the weather is. Some of the posts will ask people to bring certain things like household cleaning items, toilet paper, paper towels or whatever supply may be in need. Don’t be surprise if by the time you bring the supply item…they have enough and need something different.
You can also get road reports from their forum too. I just read a road report that said the roads are as good as they have ever been…yet there was a picture of a chevy truck all messed up because he was going too fast.
Oregon John wrote this in the forum…regarding the chevy truck.
“C’mon people, slow the hell down. A freshly graded road does not equate to increased speed. Take your time and enjoy the trip in. It’s all part of the adventure.”
My favorite line from Oregon John…”Take your time and enjoy the trip in. I’ts all part of the adventure.” He sounds like a hiker to me or a person that likes to sail….hmm…who do I know that sails?
If the drive to Saline Valley Hot Springs wasn’t unique enough, during the weekdays the U.S. Military flies training missions up and down the valley…at full throttle…of course. On the lazy afternoon I was sitting in the middle spring I watched a USAF F-16 Thunderbird fly straight towards the springs. Before he or she (yea never know) reached us he engaged his smoke trail…what a sight. Low, fast and spitting colors. It was awesome.
When Burrow’s Attack…or maybe they just want a little cuddling.
The other amazing thing…the burrows! OH MY!!! Those little buggers! They are used to people and while I was standing by my truck talking with someone a burrow quietly sneaked up behind me and put his/her head under my arm. It wanted me to pet it. I was caught off guard…I know they really aren’t that quiet…but when I’m backpacking/hiking…I don’t wear my hearing aids. They are the friendliest things. When you leave your campsite, they are so friendly they will make sure everything in your camp is safe and secure…and if it isn’t, they’ll be glad to liberate some of your food and such. The birds are just as friendly too…they will take your garbage bag and spread all your garbage everywhere. (this didn’t happen to me…I just heard about it)
The friends who took me to Saline Valley Hot Springs are regulars. They make it a point to go there for Thanksgiving. They tried hard to get me there but I have my traditions to up hold. It sounds like it is the biggest event they have. The way they spoke about it was as if they were all family.
The conversations around the hot springs was very enlightening. I quickly realized I was socializing with some very intellectual people. I felt very comfortable, very excepted and enjoyed the different points of views. It felt like family and I was touched how open and honest it was. Some talked about deep personal hurts in their lives and how they are working through them. I really wish we could’ve stayed in touch…but because we were strangers…it made it possible for them to be really raw.
As with many hot springs…well…uh…clothing was optional. What I found most interesting was body acceptance. It didn’t matter if you were large or small, clothed or not…nobody seemed to care. People were there just to relax and be.
Risk vs Reward
I really enjoyed my time at Saline Valley Hot Springs. When I left I felt it was too much of a trip for the reward. The risk of a flat tire or something mechanical going wrong with my vehicle. Now that time has passed and I reflect on my adventure, I have that itch, that desire to go back there again. Maybe it was the people and the conversation or the burrow’s and their friendly nature. Mostly I think it was just being out in a truly unique place, something so very unusual. There certainly are a lot of places to explore…maybe I will see you there one day.
- The adventure and the unknown
- The burrows
- The stimulating conversation
- The family like feeling
- The springs…OH YES the SPRINGS
- The Mountain Views