Grover Hot Springs in Alpine County California is the only “clothing mandatory” place in the Sierra where a family can enjoy natural mineral fed water while taking in spectacular snowy vistas and majestic backdrops.
You will most likely need 4 wheel drive or chains for your excursion in the winter. Be sure to pack a beach towel and some water and snacks. After stopping for provisions in nearby Markleeville at the little general store, prepare to take the scenic four mile jaunt to the hot springs for a soak amidst the snow. There will likely be plenty of it at about 5900 feet elevation.
Once you arrive in the gorgeous Grover Hot Springs State Park you’ll see an outcropping of buildings that house the magical hot springs across the open meadow. This geologic wonder is located on the East side of the Sierra at the edge of the Great Basin Province in an open pine forest with sagebrush and sweeping meadows.
This is where Washoe Indians and early settlers once enjoyed these same waters for their curative and therapeutic properties. While a century ago it served as a resort for the Markleeville Hotel, this same sparkling and steamy oasis now offers a calm respite for visitors of all ages from around the world.
The water, unlike most hot springs, contains hardly any sulphur, but rather a perfect mix of sodium carbonate, sulphate, and chloride to ease your weary muscles and calm rambunctious kids.
A park ranger monitors both the therapeutic soaking pool and the mineral fed swimming pool so it’s perfect for families and there is no need to worry about inappropriate behavior or nudity in front of younger children. Two separate changing rooms for men and women are provided and cubbies outside by the pools offer a great place within sight to set your towels and valuables while you relax.
From September through May the pool hours and days of operation vary. It’s really best to call ahead for current operating hours (530) 694-2249. This may save you an unnecessary trip. Typical hours are from 10 a.m. To 7 p.m., closed on Wednesdays. During the winter, when snow is covering the ground, the pool complex usually remains open. It may be closed during severe snow storms and blizzard conditions, or from high accumulations of snow on the roads. The road from Markleeville to the hot springs is generally well plowed during the winter, but it’s wise to always carry snow chains and a shovel when traveling in the Sierras during the winter.
The day use fee for the hot springs is $7 for adults and $5 for kids.
If you happen to visit when the snow has melted, before or after your soak, be sure to explore any of nearly a half dozen breathtaking walking trails starting at the springs. Some meander through forests of Jeffrey Pine, ponderosa, aspen and Sierra juniper, along the Carson River and through meadows decorated with wildlife and flowers.
Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Roadtripsforcouples.com, an online travel magazine. Carmel ‘s been on local talk radio for 17 years and now co-hosts THE GOOD LIFE with Mike the Wine Guy on KMYC 1410AM. Her family travel column can be read in California Kids Magazine at: valcomnews.comYou can follow her on Twitter: @CarmelLeeMooney or Facebook. Carmel is also the Executive Director of Pawsitive Service Dog Solutions, a non-profit that trains and places Autism Service Dogs. You can read her service dog blog at: www.pawsitivesolutions.org