Yesterday, Sunday, I decided to take a little road trip northwest of here to a place called Thermo Hot Springs. I can’t remember how I heard about this place, but as I am still fairly new to the area, I am always up for exploring.
We were having a cold front going through, so the day was breezy and sunny. The route took me north to Minersville, and then west to the hot springs. Ideally, the drive is about 60 miles, but that is not how it turned out!
First of all, Minersville is a small agricultural town not far from the border with Nevada, located in the Great Basin, an extensive flat area punctuated by old volcanic cinder cones and small mountain ranges. It is quite isolated. As I passed through town heading west, I started seeing clusters of numerous long narrow buildings spread out in the desert.
The smell was so strong that I had to close the windows on my car. I had read about this while researching the trip. These were pig farms! Pew!! Luckily, the wind was blowing the smell away from where I was for the rest of the morning.
I got to the spot that my directions indicated where the hot springs were located, and nothing! I drove up and down some dirt roads, got out to scan the area, but no luck. Even my Garmin didn’t have a clue! Here I was, in a very isolated area, and of course, being a Sunday, the roads were pretty empty of drivers.
There was an alternate route back home that involved more dirt road driving, so I decided to give up and return home that way. As I was crossing some railroad tracks, I saw this sign.
I drove down a very rutted dirt road for the 3 miles, parked, and got out to hike.
I was on a very shallow and dried up lake bed.
Every once in a while, small herds of antelope would run by me!
From the description of the hot springs, I knew that they were on a ridge, so I headed over to the closest one to the east. Even though it was not too hot and there was a stiff breeze blowing, I started to have images of my dried up and mummified body being discovered here at some point in the distant future!
Clearly, there was some water coming up in several places at the top of this ridge, as evidenced by the areas of tall grasses, but no hot springs.
So I tramped back over the expanse of the lake bed, and once again headed home.Success! Turns out, I was on the right ridge, which is probably a volcanic fault line, but just about 2 miles too far north. Here is the geothermal power plant.
Turns out that this is quite a historic place, too. On October 10, 1776, the Dominguez and Escalante expedition stopped here and made note of this spot in their journals. This was the expedition that the Spanish sent out from Santa Fe to try to find an overland route to Monterey, California. Interesting that they also passed through the area where I was living in Colorado!
After traveling through northern New Mexico, north through Colorado, crossing over to north east Utah and then south, they came to a decision. After camping south of here, and realizing that there were many more mountain ranges to cross to get the Pacific Ocean, they decided to return to Santa Fe. Their route took them just south of Cedar City, and very near Zion National Park.
The drive home was uneventful. I decided to take the same route home, as I
was at this point reluctant to do a shorter but more back roads route. As you can see from the photos, this was not
a place to get lost in, especially on a Sunday with very few people out and about. In spite of all of the wandering around, it was a great but exhausting day.