Latest Posts

A Journey Through Tecopa Hot Springs

Therapeutic Waters and Desert Calm

Spread the love

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Patricia Steffy, Traveling Without a Net

The air was warm and dry, even on a late afternoon in February, when Andy and I first arrived to explore Tecopa Hot Springs. The desert sand gave off a burnt orange glow as the sun began to descend. Virtually nothing stirred. We passed no cars once we turned onto the Old Spanish Trail that brought us to the resort, despite evidence of a nearby RV park and campgrounds. In fact, the only thing that stirred was something in me – a true feeling of peace that comes with desert silence.

It was my first true trip to the desert. We had been through it, of course, but I had never set an intention to explore before this. But when Andy suggested visiting desert near Death Valley for Valentine’s Day, it was just too “us” to resist. We jumped into his car and motored east, stopping only at the Mad Greek restaurant in Baker, California before turning our attentions 50 miles north of I-15.

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Mad Greek, Baker
It was at this point that Andy mentioned we might not have cell phone reception for much longer. That gave me pause. It felt like everything in California was connected, and I’ll admit, it made me wonder exactly what I had gotten myself into.

We were headed for this historic Tecopa Hot Springs. Said to be set in an ancient lakebed, Tecopa had a reputation for its healing waters and stunning views, along with some fascinating wildlife (In fact, someone we met in neighboring Shoshone came to survey the bird life and never left). People come here from all around the country just to soak in one of the natural springs and go hiking (something I can’t recommend in the summer months as the air temps routinely rise to more than 120 degrees).

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel
Founded in 1875, this Mojave Desert town was originally known as Brownsville. It sprung up as a result of nearby silver-lead ore mine developments in the 1860s. The original settlement grew, but it wasn’t until the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad came in that the present town of Tecopa (re-named for a Paiute leader) really found its identity. Then, as was the case in many boom towns, the population began to shift toward other work sites. Ultimately, the hot springs were given over to the county, and rumor has it that they were gifted under the condition that they remain free for anyone who wants to visit.

Now, Tecopa is a literal oasis in the desert – a bit of an oddity to see this much water amidst so much arid sand and salt beds. The public springs can be found just off the Tecopa Hot Springs Road. How can you spot them? Look for the camper vans parked by the side of the road (you can see them in the distance in the photo at the top of the article). And if you are walking north from the resorts, you can just follow the curving road beyond the warning signs. Here, you can gingerly descend into the hot, highly mineralized water with a full view of the desert flats, distant mountains and the incredible colors of the sunset (and sunrise).

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel

Warning signs to protect the mud hills

 

Pro tip: the public springs are clothing optional. It’s a bit startling if you aren’t used to that kind of abandon. If you aren’t prepared to share quite that much, you are welcome to wear a bathing suit or choose to stay at one of the resorts that provide private access to the spring-filled tubs. Be warned that the hotter months can bring mud mites to the outside, public springs which are not an issue during the late fall, winter and early spring.

As we weren’t prepared to camp (the Mojave air at night in February can be pretty chilly even if the days are warm), we headed straight for the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort. Its motto is “Leave your Troubles Behind.” I think we can all use this kind of escape from time to time! The resort is actually divided into camping and hotel accommodations. People choosing to stay in the RV park, campgrounds or the cabins all have access to the mineral spring bathhouse. We opted for the small hotel which had direct hallway access to private mineral tubs. Under normal circumstances, you probably wouldn’t notice this collection off buildings that make up the resort, but this desert town makes even the unlikely look like a good possibility. The hotel rooms were comfortable and clean – nothing fancy, but perfectly serviceable. Access to email could be had from their WiFi, although they asked that during office hours we restrict our use to email rather than streaming.

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Off-the-beaten-path, Bistro

 

The mineral baths in the hotel were actually quite large. There are doors that close and lock for privacy as the tubs here are also clothing optional. We took our time here. Our descent into the hot mineral water was slow, and we luxuriated in the feel of muscles loosening and the aches diminishing, and those were just from driving – can you imagine how good they would feel after a day of hiking? My favorite touch was the skylight above us. You can have an amazing view of the stars if the clouds cooperate. In fact, the area is so devoid of light pollution that there is a telescope site on the property. On clear nights, you can enjoy a guided “sight-seeing tour” of the stars.

Other amenities of the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort included an art gallery and a restaurant. Unfortunately, the restaurant wasn’t open, as we were only there during the week. It is scheduled to open on the weekends from 12:00 pm until about 9:00 pm. I’ve heard talk of it being remodeled and live music on Saturday nights. We’ll have to return to find out!

Food is an important consideration because Tecopa Hot Springs is quite isolated. Shoshone is about nine miles away, and the store there and the Crowbar Cafe are your primary food options if the on-site restaurant is closed. In the immediate vicinity, you would either have to bring some nosh from home or grab some snack items from the general store. I’ve heard that the Death Valley Internet Cafe near the resort has now closed, but hopefully, that’s just a seasonal issue. No matter what, be prepared to be in an area with very few services.

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel, Crowbar, Shoshone

 

Let’s face it, the reason you go to the desert is to escape modern life. While we sort of cheated by staying in the hotel at night, I have to say it was one of my most favorite excursions in California. The peace is nearly absolute out there. You can stand in the middle of the desert, and the only sound you will hear is the beating of your heart and the song of the shifting sands. It started a drive in me to escape to the desert whenever the world gets too crazy, or my brain becomes too filled with all the “must do” and “should do” things that life throws at me. This is a place for reflection and deep breaths. And I am deeply grateful that Andy led us here.

 

 

Tecopa Hot Springs, Mojave Desert, Hot Springs, Wellness, California, Adventure Travel, Budget Travel

 

How to get to Tecopa from Los Angeles:

Head east until you connect with I-15N. Connect with CA-127 and then take the Old Spanish Trail into Tecopa Hot Springs Road. The trip takes about 4 hours driving time, but we highly recommend taking a stop in Baker to gas up and to grab some food. Remember, there aren’t many services once you get to Tecopa.

How to Get to Tecopa from Las Vegas:

The drive from Las Vegas is approximately 80 miles. You can take NV-160 west to the Old Spanish Trail Highway onto Tecopa Hot Springs Road.

Where to Stay

  • Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, 860 Tecopa Hot Springs Rd, Tecopa, CA 92389
  • Delight’s Hot Springs Resort, 368 Tecopa Hot Springs Rd, Tecopa, CA 92389
  • There are also numerous campgrounds in the immediate area.

Where to Eat

On the weekends, you should be able to eat in the on-site cafe. Otherwise, the nearest town is Shoshone. You can grab food at the Crowbar cafe, approximately 9 miles from the hot springs.

Other Area Attractions

  • China Ranch Date Farm: Great hiking, a surprisingly lush setting and home-grown dates and other treats.
  • Hiking: In addition to China Ranch Date Farm, South Nopah Range Wilderness has become a popular hiking spot.
  • Wildflower Spotting in the Spring (acres of golden blooms on the Old Spanish Trail just before you turn back onto 127)

 

 

Tecopa Hot Springs, California Travel, Desert USA, budget, adventure, hot springs, Mojave, Death Valley

59 Comments on A Journey Through Tecopa Hot Springs

  1. Megan Jerrard // August 30, 2017 at 4:29 am // Reply

    Glad you enjoyed your first real trip to the desert! Tecopa Hot Springs sounds like an incredible spot – surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. Really must seem odd to see so much water amidst so much arid sand and salt beds! Thanks for the tip that the public springs are clothing optional – good to know in advance to mentally prepare! Sounds like a great excursion, and a great way to escape modern life 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 30, 2017 at 12:44 pm // Reply

      It’s an odd place, but people swear by the waters. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to discover them in the midst of all of that sand!

  2. Tecopa hot springs sounds like an intriguing place. Traveling deep into the desert and than finding a hot water spring must definitely be a remarkable experience. I would enjoy the drive through the desert to reach the destination as I always find the desert wildly beautiful.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 30, 2017 at 12:45 pm // Reply

      The desert is incredibly beautiful. I can’t quite imagine being out there during the summer, but it is gorgeous other times of year.

  3. I’ve enjoyed very much how you described the history of the place and all the details about the springs. Tecopa Hot Springs are definitely a must-see in the area. I would love to have some hot springs near me right now.
    Iuliana Marchian recently posted…Etno House Shancheva – KratovoMy Profile

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 30, 2017 at 12:46 pm // Reply

      I wish we could go more often, although I guess we probably wouldn’t enjoy the hot springs right now when the air is also terribly hot.

  4. It’s fascinating to see hot springs in the middle of the desert! Soaking in the springs while gazing at the stars must have been a very romantic experience

  5. Hotsprings are an amazing creation of nature, aren’t they? They have healing properties and you can go hiking too! Sounds great!

  6. I had never heard of this place! Something for me to look into!

  7. For anyone wanting to experience going to a desert, this is an awesome post! Extremely informative and i so want to go there to gaze at the stars from a hot spring!

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm // Reply

      It’s one of those places that you wouldn’t think to stop at, but when you do you get the chance to see the beauty.

  8. This sounds awesome! I’ve been to LA a few times but I’ve never ventured here. I’ll have to add it to my list. It’s a good tip to let everyone know that clothing is option because that can be startling, especially to Americans who aren’t as free-flowing with nudity in spa situations as other cultures are.
    Paige W recently posted…50 Travel Quotes Sure to Inspire WanderlustMy Profile

  9. Growing up in Japan, going to hot springs was something we did quite often. I have never been to one in the desert or in the states and would love to go. I would probably prefer the private access one since I would like to bathe without clothing and of course with no one around 🙂

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 30, 2017 at 10:53 pm // Reply

      We definitely preferred the private tubs to the public mud springs — more privacy and fewer mud mites when the temperatures rise!

  10. I am so involve with hot springs omg! lovely post

  11. ohhhh my this is beautiful. I pinned it so I can see it later! The photos… drool.

  12. This was a very interesting read to me! I saw Tecopa Hot Springs when exiting Death Valley National Park through the southern part. I didn’t have time to stop but I remember the drive from the park to I-15 was incredible. There is so much to see in the desert. I still have a long list of places I have not checked out. We have not been to Mad Greek even though I have seen it tons on times while driving to Vegas.
    Ruth | Tanama Tales recently posted…23 Ways to Avoid Money Disasters While TravelingMy Profile

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 31, 2017 at 3:20 pm // Reply

      We’ve gone to the Mad Greek a couple of times. I can’t say it’s the best food you are going to have, but it is right there and full of character.

  13. Wow! This sounds like such an adventure! I’ve never thought about exploring the deserts stateside, but definitely adding it to my things to do list. I love the slogan of the hotel as well. I think we all need a little reminder of that every now and then.

  14. I have never been to a desert before so it is intriguing to read about it. It definitely is a great way to escape the modern life. It is nice that you got to enjoy the mineral bath 🙂

  15. Hot spring in the middle of a desert? That’s really cool! I’ve never been to either. Love your photos of the desert.

  16. Orangewayfarer // August 31, 2017 at 7:33 am // Reply

    Love the fact you have detailed a bit on history. What are mud hills though? Seeing a different side of usa through your blog. Loved it.

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 31, 2017 at 3:24 pm // Reply

      They are the earthen hills (mounds) that surround the natural springs. They are warning people to not run ATV’s or other vehicles around them to protect those barriers (and because it’s probably very dangerous).

  17. I never thought of taking a hot bath in a desert but will be a good idea at night time. 🙂 I really like the desolate landscape around you with a hint of orange. Looks like another planet.

  18. Love hearing about new places like this. The desert is incredibly beautiful ! Tecopa hot springs sounds like an intriguing place… Some say it’s just water. Others believe it’s magical. Baptized by the mystery and the minerals, did you feel different ? Healthier ? Clean ? Restored ?
    C-Ludik recently posted…The Mercantour: destination MerveillesMy Profile

    • PatriciaSteffy // August 31, 2017 at 10:50 pm // Reply

      I definitely felt more relaxed. I’m not sure about healthier, but I’d love to go back to rejuvenate, for sure. 🙂

  19. I love hot springs my first time being in Bali I never knew you could find any in a desert. The whole place looked like a museum. Looked like a great adventure!

    • PatriciaSteffy // September 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm // Reply

      I have to wonder what it was like the first time someone happened upon them as they were walking through the mud hills and sand.

  20. omg! I love hot spring, it just reminded me of my trip to Kheerganga in Himachal Pradesh, India 🙂

  21. What an oasis! I’ve never been to a desert myself, but hoping to in the near future!

  22. Wow! This almost sounds like stepping into a different world or a different era. Wifi just for checking emails? Lack of cell service? Clothing optional baths? There is definitely something alluring about experiencing life that way – even if only for a night. Your photos are gorgeous! Seems like a fun adventure!
    Kate Brissette recently posted…A Spirited Weekend on the Nelson 151 Trail in VirginiaMy Profile

  23. Crazy that they wouldn’t have any food at the resort during the week! I think after an hour or two in the hot springs I would not want to get back in the car to drive into town. I would probably even pay ridiculous money to have somebody get me food on the room…

    • PatriciaSteffy // September 4, 2017 at 8:26 pm // Reply

      We did end up going into Shoshone for dinner, but if we did it again, we’d probably bring some supplies in a cooler just to be safe. Of course, there is a general store you can walk to that has some provisions.

  24. I really love the idea of the hot mineral springs. And, Tecopa looks like quite an adventure even without that ‘bonus’
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…Ladies who Lunch – La Dame de PicMy Profile

  25. OMG clothing optional is such a good tip to know beforehand. Thanks for that! How did your skin feel after getting out? Were you super tired?

    • PatriciaSteffy // September 4, 2017 at 8:23 pm // Reply

      We stuck to the private springs tubs in the hotel, so I don’t know if there is a difference if you slip into the springs by the mud hills. But it was so incredibly relaxing. It took us close to 5 hours to get out there, so it was wonderful to just let our muscles relax before heading out for adventure. I have really sensitive skin, and it reacted well to the minerals. No irritation, and I could swear it was softer.

  26. I’m in San Diego and didn’t know about this place, will check it out for sure!
    sherianne recently posted…The Best of San Francisco’s Iconic ChinatownMy Profile

    • PatriciaSteffy // September 4, 2017 at 8:24 pm // Reply

      It’s definitely not a place you would just happen upon, but once you know the secrets, you can have a great time!

  27. Hot springs in the desert. That is so my kind of place. I’m a hot springs fanatic, but I usually go to ones in Europe. You’ve created a very evocative atmosphere with the silence and big space. Nicely done.

  28. Deserts are always fascinating, as they get so hot during the day and do cool down. Great tip on restaurants not being in abundance. I’ve flown over this area a few times and find it interesting from above.

  29. Love the retro vibes of this place. Also good to know in regards to the food. I’ll make sure to pack my snacks and lots of water!

  30. Great Article! Thank you for your sharing!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


CommentLuv badge