In middle-of-nowhere Nevada, there’s a place where you can soak in a bright blue pool, surrounded by mountain peaks – Ruby Valley Hot Springs. The road to get here is kind of a rough one, but this guide will tell you how to get to Ruby Valley Hot Springs (also called Smith Ranch Hot Springs), along with anything else you need to know!
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Table of Contents
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About the Ruby Valley Hot Springs
The Ruby Valley Hot Springs are located next to the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The drive here is pretty long, and far away from services, and the road is kind of rough – which means that this place is remote and quiet, and you’re likely to have the hot springs all to yourself! I went on a weekend, and even then, I was completely alone.
There are four pools at the Ruby Valley Hot Springs (plus a few hot puddles). Temperatures vary from about 90 to 115 degrees, depending on which pool you soak in and the time of year. The two smallest pools were very warm, but the bottom was so soft and silty that I immediately sank when I tried to step in them – so I definitely recommend the two bigger pools! Before you go, make sure to learn about hot spring etiquette!
One of the pools had a wooden dock that was great to sit on by the water, and allowed easier access than the soft marshy walls. But, my favorite was the biggest pool – it was the cleanest (no bugs!) and the temperature was warm but not too hot to soak for a while. This big pool had a metal ladder that made it easy to get in and also provided a place to sit. I was able to stand near the ladder (I’m 5’4″, for reference), but the pool got deeper towards the middle.
There are no amenities at the hot springs, and no fees. It’s very wild and undeveloped!
The Best Time to Visit the Ruby Valley Hot Springs
The best time of year to visit is fall or spring, when the cooler temperature of the air makes soaking in the hot water feel amazing! In the winter (November through March), snow often makes the road to the Ruby Valley Hot Springs inaccessible, so be sure to check the weather before you go. I also wouldn’t recommend making the drive down there if it’s rained a lot recently – the road is doable in dry conditions, but rain can turn the area into a muddy mess.
Leave No Trace at Ruby Valley Hot Springs
Anytime you’re outdoors, whether you’re a beginner hiker or an experienced adventurer, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair.
While I firmly believe everyone deserves to enjoy these amazing spots, do your part to make sure it stays clean and beautiful! Ruby Valley Hot Springs isn’t super well known, but when people don’t follow LNT, it can lead to places like this being closed forever.
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature, as much as it’s possible to do so. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you visit the Ruby Valley Hot Springs!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, and make sure you know what to expect!
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – no camping allowed in this area, but when you walk around, make sure to step on solid ground and avoid trampling plants as much as possible.
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. There are no trash cans at the hot spring, so pack it out!
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock or pick a flower, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the area won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – camping is not allowed at the hot springs.
- Respect wildlife – never approach wildlife, and never feed the animals! It’s bad for their stomachs, causes aggression, and messes with their natural patterns.
- Be considerate of other visitors – this place isn’t too popular, but you might end up sharing it with a few other people. Keep noise to a minimum, share the pools, and be respectful!
How to Get to Ruby Valley Hot Springs
Getting to the Ruby Valley Hot Springs requires driving down a really bumpy, washed out road. It’s doable with any car in dry conditions, but if you don’t have experience driving on rough roads it can definitely be a little stressful.
Keep in mind too that road conditions can change – I went to the hot springs in October of 2023, and drove my Promaster van. I had to go really slow, but the road was possible for any car at this point.
The closest “big” city is Elko, Nevada – so make sure to get gas there and any snacks or food that you’ll need!
Google Maps had easy to follow directions for the most part, so set your route to Smith Ranch Hot Springs (another name for the Ruby Valley Hot Springs). From there, head east on NV-227 for 5.4 miles, then turn right onto NV-228 and head south. Continue straight on Harrison Pass Road, which will turn into the unpaved NF-113. At the end of the road, turn left onto Ruby Valley Road, and quickly turn right onto Ruby Wash Road (there’s a sign pointing to Ruby Wash).
Soon after, the road gets rough – it’s extremely bumpy, so make sure to drive slow. It’s also washed out in spots, but there are ways to go around big potholes easily. At one point, the GPS tried to route me through the wildlife preserve, which wasn’t possible since it was fenced in. Just keep following the fence, and turn right once you get to the end of the fence line. The GPS coordinate is accurate to the location of the hot pools, so just follow the roads until you get there! Be careful as you get close, as the ground is very marshy and soft near the pools – stick to the road to make sure your car doesn’t sink.
Ruby Valley Hot Springs Coordinates: 40.252395, -115.407699
You can also look this place up in Google Maps, but the name on there is Smith Ranch Hot Springs!
Where to Stay Near the Ruby Valley Hot Springs
If you’re on a road trip to see Nevada’s hot springs, you’ll need somewhere to stay! Here are my favorite options for places to stay close to the Ruby Valley Hot Springs.
Glamping, Cabins, & Yurts
For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more.
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb – you can rent vans, RVs, and trailers from people who live nearby!
Find a Campsite
Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites! The South Ruby Campground is located close by, along with some other options. While dispersed camping isn’t allowed right by the hot springs, there’s national forest land nearby where you can camp for free!
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Hotels & Lodges
Ruby Valley is a pretty remote area, so there aren’t a ton of options for places to stay – but, Elko is about an hour away, and that’s where you’ll find hotels, motels, and lodging options!
For more options, check out this map of places to stay. Make sure to change the dates, and zoom out to see all of your options!
More Adventures Near Ruby Valley Hot Springs
There are so many outdoor adventures to have in Nevada, and so many amazing backcountry hot springs to explore. Check out this guide for some of the best hot springs in Nevada! Cathedral Gorge State Park is another great place to explore, and so is Valley of Fire State Park.
Read this guide to Joshua Tree National Park for more desert adventures, and here are some other hot springs posts to check out:
If you’ve been to this hot spring and have any tips, or if you’re planning a trip and have any questions, leave them in a comment below!
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