Tahoe and Reno draw visitors for various reasons. Some come to gamble and others come for the trails, ski resorts, and to paddle the lake. Regardless of your reason for visiting the area, finding a place to soak in naturally heated mineral waters is always a treat, especially with the Sierra as a backdrop. In the vicinity of Lake Tahoe and Reno, there are a few great places to visit. Some require a hike to reach them, while others are built-up establishments with manmade pools, showers, and changing rooms that are comfortable for the whole family.
An hour's drive east of Reno, Sierra Hot Springs is a built-up set of indoor and outdoor pools with an incredible mountain backdrop. Visitors can pay to soak for a small fee for three hours, a full day, or opt to stay overnight at the adjacent resort. The indoor pools are hotter than the ones outside, and to the delight of most visitors, they are located in a blissfully designed geodesic dome, appropriately named the Temple Dome. The resort also offers camping accommodations for those on a budget, and it hosts health and wellness workshops and custom retreats.
The small riverside hot springs on the East Fork of the Carson River require an almost 5-mile hike to reach them. There are a few other ways to reach them, but hiking is the most enjoyable. Once you're there, you can setup camp nearby and make the visit into an overnight backpacking trip with a chance to soak under the stars. The trailhead is just over an hour's drive south of Reno.
Not far from the East Fork Carson River Hot Springs, Grover Hot Springs and the state park by the same name offer a family-friendly place to soak (swimsuits required). The pools are hot and the facilities offer showers and changing rooms. Use of the pools requires a small per-person fee. The state park also has a campground for anyone looking to camp out in the area and enjoy the nearby trails and amazing Sierra views.
Feather River Hot Springs is a small, quiet retreat between Lake Tahoe and Lassen Volcanic National Park. It's a great place to stop for a soak if you're driving down Highway 70. The location was once called Woody's Hot Springs. It's open to the public for a $5 donation, and it can also be reserved for private use.
Brockway Hot Springs is a splendid place to soak in Lake Tahoe proper, but it has to be earned. To get here you'll need to paddle the half mile from Speedboat Beach or slightly longer distance from Kings Beach. The pools of warm water are located adjacent to private property that is only accessible by resort guests, but since the springs are below Lake Tahoe's high water mark, they are accessible to the public assuming you can get there from the water and you make sure to not stray into the private resort while you're there.
It might be a stretch to claim Buckeye Hot Springs is in the Reno area, but if you are combining it with a trip south, it's just over two hours to drive from one location to the other. The three soaking pools are along Buckeye Creek, and they can get crowded. Luckily, with nearby camping, there are options for visitors who wish to stay overnight and soak under the stars.
Not far from Buckeye Hot Springs, Travertine Hot Springs is a popular place to soak given how easily accessible it is from nearby Highway 395. The pools are hot and the views are scenic. Be forewarned that this is a hot springs where most bathers choose to soak on the nude side of clothing optional, especially if you are planning a visit with the whole family.
If you are in Reno proper and not looking to drive out of town, Steamboat Hot Springs is your best option. The waters and facilities of this resort and spa have been providing relaxation to visitors since the 1850s. Drop-in visitors can pay a daily fee to use the baths and resort facilities, and packages for spa treatments are also available.