By Amy Whitley
Everyone loves hot tub time after a ski day. In Tahoe, though, there’s no need to book expensive spa treatments or ritzy accommodations to enjoy some serious soak time.
The greater Lake Tahoe region is pocketed with natural healing hot springs, provided you know where to look.
Our favorite dip into the warm waters of the Sierras is at Grover Hot Springs State Park on Highway 89 south of South Lake Tahoe.
You won’t find plush robes or eucalyptus steam rooms here—just affordable, fun, relaxing, and scenic soaking. Admission fees ($4 adult, $2 youth 18 and under) are the best deal in town and support California state parks.
Located four miles from the tiny town of Markleeville high in Alpine County, the springs lie in a 700-acre forest surrounded by classic views of Sierra peaks.
For ambiance, you can’t beat it.
The water escapes the earth here at a vicious 148 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cooled to 104 before feeding into Grover’s hot pool. Swim, float, or just sit poolside, soaking as long as you wish.
If you’re up for a study in contrasts, there’s also a cool pool, perfect for a plunge.
Running to and from the cool pool is usually where it’s at for the kids, who can’t get enough of the icy shock. Added bonus: If you’re bracing for the smell of sulfur, don’t worry—turns out there’s very little of it.
If you go: Lifeguards are on duty, and suit and towel rentals are available. Change when you arrive in the clean and comfortable dressing rooms.
Winter hours are 2 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. If you want to make a day of it, hiking and cross-country trails are located adjacent to the springs.
Soak A Lil’ More
Check out these additional soaking options, open to the public throughout the Lake Tahoe area.
Sierra Hot Springs: A 30-minute drive from the North Shore in remote and scenic Sierraville, California, Sierra Hot Springs is both a historic landmark (complete with a hotel) and geothermal treasure.
The soaking pools are open 24 hours a day, and day guests—including well-behaved children—are welcome.
David Walley’s 1862 Hot Springs: Located in the Sierra foothills, these hot springs are surrounded by a full-scale resort that somehow still feels secluded. Walley’s includes five natural mineral pools saunas, and steam rooms. Stay overnight, and you’ll go from the high desert of Nevada to the Sierra slopes in one easy commute.
Nepheles: Those familiar with Lake Tahoe may be thinking, “But wait, isn’t Nepheles a restaurant?” Little-known fact: The Nepheles restaurant has three private outdoor soaking tubs, which can be reserved (showers and towels provided) by the hour from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Order a cocktail and relax here before or after dinner.
Not sure you want to rough it while getting your soak on? Try one of these full-service spas, which capture the geothermal richness of the region.
Toscana Spa, Peppermill Spa Casino: Reno’s Peppermill resort has gone geothermal in a big way, harnessing the heat below the ground for its swimming pools, heating, and its 43,000-square-foot spa. Buy a day pass and enjoy the heated waters, steam rooms, lounge chairs, and tranquility, or book a spa treatment or two.
Bio Spirit Day Spa: Be pampered after your ski day at Bio Spirit, where the staff insists massage treatments are a necessity, not a luxury.
(Sounds right!) Plus, you won’t be far from dining and other après ski destinations in this centrally located South Tahoe spa.
Steamboat Hot Springs and Resort:
This Nevada registered historic landmark boasts hot mineral-water soaking tubs, which can be rented by the hour, plus health treatments such as aromatherapy, massages, and facials.