Sunday, March 8, 2015

Colorado River Trip - Part 3 - Tecopa Hot Springs, Pahrump, Red Rocks, Las Vegas, Snowbird Mesa.

After leaving Laughlin, I headed to Tecopa Hot Springs which is near the east side of Death Valley in California.

(I have links to places I stayed overnight at the bottom of this blog.)

Alien Fresh Jerky!?!? 
I wondered how Alien Jerky tasted, but I declined to try it. This store is in Baker, California next to where I filled up with gas before heading into the gas-stationless land between Baker and Pahrump. In the background on the left side is the biggest thermometer in the world.

Tecopa Hot Springs Resort in Tecopa Nevada
Below is Google Photosphere looking over Tecopa.  Use your cursor to move around the 360 degree view.

Tecopa is in the middle of nowhere.  It has about three or four mineral hot spring places.  I planned to pick one of the RV resorts to stay the night and soak.  I first stopped at Delight's.  I parked and went into the office to get the scoop.  The guy in the office seemed a little busy and I felt like I was disturbing him somehow, but then he took me for a quick tour.

They have about five enclosed hot mineral tubs.  The water is suppose to be great, full of minerals and very healing.  They are all private and enclosed with walls.  Some have roofs, some do not.  They looked nice.  If you stay in a cabin or in the RV (with hookups) area, you can use the tubs.  You wait in a courtyard for the next tub room to open up.  You get 30 minutes to soak and then you have to get out and start over, if you want more time. (Does someone have an egg timer set for 30 minutes?)

Delight's seemed busy.  There were people waiting for tubs, but was nice enough.  Next, I decided to check out the other major hot spring resort, Tecopa Hot Springs.

Tecopa Hot Springs Resort has a set of indoor tubs up on a hillside.  I checked in at the office and they told me I could go check them out.  Again, there were people waiting to get into the tubs. Tecopa HSR also has RV sites with full hookups or boondocking sites. It seemed OK.

Tecopa HSR also has Pastel's Bistro that is highly regarded.  Apparently Chef John Muccio left the big city to create a restaurant in a small relaxed location.  With 150 residents, Tecopa is small.  I checked out the restaurant and it looked good, but I wasn't very hungry at the time. We will try it next time, for sure, as I've heard amazing things about this restaurant.

Next, I wanted to find the hot spring pool on BLM land due east and half a mile out of town.  I had a satellite photo and GPS coordinates (35.872772, -116.219336).  I figured out where to drive and found it. It's not hard to get to and the road is a pretty good dirt packed road that a large RV could handle.

There were cars already there as I arrived and about four naked guys where in the pool.  I took a look at the small pool and decided five was a crowd.

It looks like you can boondock nearby this pool on the BLM land, if you wanted to.  You have to be a designated distance from water sources so you can't camp right at the pool site. (I think it's 300 feet away from water sources.)

If Karen was with me, I would have gone back to Delight's and stayed in an electric RV site. But, I was by myself and just didn't want to hang out in the waiting area alone waiting for a pool to open up while groups of people stood by watching me take a tub room for myself.  I felt it would be awkward. If Karen was with me, it would have been a tolerable proposition.

Karen and I will definitely return and enjoy this place at some point, I am sure.  I bet the stars at night are just amazing!  (Tecopa HSR has telescopes and does star-gazing on moonless nights, I was told.)

It was lunch time.  I headed down the road and pulled off near some muddy ponds.  Lunch was grand sitting out there in that flat gravel desert and enjoying the incredible desert, pond and mountain views.

There is a nearby "China Ranch Date Farm" that is suppose to be a really cool "oasis in the desert" and fun place to visit. Their date shakes are suppose to be the bomb!  Next time.

Tecopa has a county run hot spring mineral pool.  It has two gender-segregated pools, where nudity is mandatory in order to keep the water clean.  You can read stuff on the web about why this is and all the management upheavals that have recently occurred at this place.

The local Indian Chief gave the pools to the city long ago and required that they remain free for all to use forever.  Well, not long ago, the county hired a company to run the place and a fee was instituted. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth and major bellyaching caused by this development.

If I was the local Tribe Chief. I would demand the return of the springs for violation of terms, open a nice hot spring resort / casino and live comfortably ever after.

There is an RV park that the county runs across from the county run hot springs pools.  There is also another private RV park on the northwest side of town with indoor hot spring tubs. I've read a blogger review about it and they liked it - Tecopa Palms RV Park.

In general, I prefer hot mineral pools that are not inside buildings.  I love to soak while enjoying an expansive view and cool night air with stars.  It seems that in the oldern days, mineral pools were generally enclosed and gender segregated.  Tecopa seems to have stuck with the restrictive older ways.

I sure wish these Tecopa places would tear down the buildings and build pools that were more open and not segregated.  I'd like to be able to sit with my wife and enjoy the views while I soaked.  If they did, I am sure this place would be a lot more prosperous.  Some enterprising person will buy one of these places and make the changes, I just don't know if it will be in my lifetime.

If you've been to Orvis Hot Springs near Ridgeway CO, then you know what I am thinking of for a design update.

Shoshone RV Park Warm Spring Pool

Shoshone RV Park
Up the road about eight miles north is the little town of Shoshone.  Shoshone RV Park has a warm spring pool.  I took a look and it seemed very pleasant.  I definitely shall return with Karen.  The RV spots are in a relaxed, grassy area.  It looks like a great place to spend some time.  There is a well regarded restaurant / saloon in town that looks like a really fun spot.  This would be a good base to explore the eastern Death Valley area.

Lake Side Casino RV Resort

Nugget Casino Pahrump
Heading on to Pahrump, I decided to spend the night at the Pahrump Nugget Casino.  It's a nice medium sized casino with a lot of parking.  The photo shows another guy who was doing the same. (Out in back there is a dirt area that might also make a good overnighting spot.)  There is a big pay RV park next door.

There was a lot of street noise, but I slept fine.  There is no buffet here but there is a restaurant in the casino as well as in another casino directly across the street.  There is also a big Smith's grocery on the northwest side of the casino.

Before I settled in at the Nugget, I took a look at the nearby Lake Side Casino RV Resort.  It's very nice.  It's has super pleasant surroundings with a small lake, grass and many trees and nice winding roads through the sites. If looks very family friendly.  I thought that Karen would like it when we are finally out in our future C Class in a few years.

Red Rocks near Las Vegas

Red Rocks near Las Vegas
I headed out early the next morning and stopped just outside of Las Vegas at Red Rocks Canyon. Wow, this is a super gorgeous area.  My Mom told me that when she lived in Vegas as a child, her family never visited this area. That seems a shame. It is amazing!

There are a lot of vehicle pull-offs that were being used by hikers and bicyclists. I pulled over and took a nice hike up to the base of the mountains.  You have got to check this out if your in the Vegas area. It's national park level scenery!  There is a national conservation area scenic loop drive here that I am sure is a great drive.  There is a low fee charged for this drive.

My hike was fantastic. I definitely want to come back and really explore this area further with Karen. There are many great hiking trails in this area and it's popular with bicyclists. Rock climbing is a major activity in this area.

Nice BLM Campground near Red Rocks Canyon
Further down the road is a BLM campground, "Red Rocks Canyon Campground," that is apparently fairly new and not on many maps yet.  It is pretty large with many sites, but there was a sign that said it was full.

Being the end of a weekend, I noticed many of the sites were now vacant. I could have gotten a spot if I wanted one.  I will definitely stay here at some future time.  There are no trees, so it will not be in the summer, in fact they close it down during hot summer months. There was a shade structure at every site. It is dry camping and there are no showers, but it has vault toilets. It's $15 a night.

There were about five RVs in the camp host area of the campground.  It was around noon and it's a wonder that none of the camp host could be bothered to take down the "campground full" signs.  I'm not kidding, five host RVs!

Dry blacktop-docking behind Bally's
On to Vegas.

After two orders of fries at In-N-Out, I made my way to the parking lot behind Bally's, where I have overnighted before.  My favorite parking spot is next to the Bally's / Paris casino employees parking area entrance. There is a security shack right there that is staffed all night.  I felt this was a fairly safe place to park with all the employees driving in and out at all hours of day and night. The security people hang out a few feet away, at night.  My van was parked there for multiple days during this trip and no one bothered it.  Other RVs could be seen in the area.

I was told a story by one guy that there had been a bad heist of an RV in that back parking area recently. A family was moving cross-country and stopped for a stay in a Bally's Casino hotel room overnight. The RV was pulling a big trailer with all their worldly possessions inside.  When they came out the next morning to continue their trip, the whole rig and trailer were gone!  The heist was big TV news all over Nevada for a few days, the guy told me.

Next, I headed to the newer Aria Casino to enjoy their fantastic spa.

The spa at the Aria is great.  It costs $45 to get in but worth every penny.  You enter the separate men's and women's area first.  There are co-ed areas with a outdoor covered huge balcony jacuzzi that is very enjoyable.  I soaked there for a long while, enjoying the balcony view and the jets on my back muscles.

In the co-ed area is a "salt block" room with relaxing vibrating chairs and new age music. You recline and zen out.

The very best thing in the co-ed area is a dark room with large black stone slab beds. The stone slabs are heated. You lay down and absorb the heat. Talk about relaxation!  I have never experienced anything like it. You lay there on your back in a supplied robe in the quiet dark soaking up the heat.

Finally, in the co-ed area, is a lounge room were you can sit, read and relax. There are fruit, nuts and lemon water available along with a big screen TV room.

Back in the men's area (and I assume the women's) there are lockers, a well stocked sink room with every item you could possibly need, combs, brushes, pre-paste loaded tooth brushes, shaving razors and cream, towels, everything!  Also, you will find a very comfortable shower room with plenty of private space and rainfall shower fixtures.

Ahhh, it was great to be completely clean and shaved again!

The men's and women's spaces have four indoor jacuzzis, a steam room and a sauna room.  It's all very fancy, clean, calm and pleasant.

After my spa afternoon, I went for a nice walk around the strip to people watch and see the sights.  I stopped at Chipotle to have a burrito bowl for dinnner.  After my walkabout it was back to the van where I had a snack and setup for bed.  I slept well that night knowing security was just a few feet away.

I have been to Vegas many times.  My impression this trip is that parts of the Strip are going down hill. I felt that Caesar's Entertainment Corporation was neglecting some of their properties. The Strip gave me the same feeling I felt when Reno started going downhill in the late 80's. It seemed the walk-ways have been infested with a lot of panhandlers, guys playing music and weird characters dressed up like transformers, dancers, snowmen or what not from popular movies.  These characters try to make money by getting you to take a photo with them.  That is OK in itself, but I saw some of these people taking breaks without their costumes on and I don't think I would want my family members being near them, in any other situation.

The whole place just seems a lot more grimy and gritty than it was in the past.

The hotels have basically just given up trying to keep the sidewalks clean and the cops have given up trying to keep the over-street walkways clear of pan-handlers, freaks and hustlers.  I wonder if it's because of the fierce competition from Indian Casino's like the Avi that are just so nice these days.

But there are still nice casinos.  The Bellagio, the Aria, the Venetian, the Wynn, they are all still really nice inside, I just can't justify the cost to stay in them.  It's while walking around that I felt this feeling of creepy crudeness and desperation. Maybe it's always been that way and I am just now really noticing it.

I had a few more days until Karen was going to show up at the airport and I wanted to check out the Lake Mead area RV opportunities and the Snowbird Mesa boondocking area, so the next morning off I went.


Tecopa Hot Springs, Tecopa, CA MAP:,+Tecopa,+CA+92389

Shoshone RV Park (with Warm Spring Pool) MAP:°58'48.8"N+116°16'18.7"W

Pahrump Nugget Casino MAP:°12'35.4"N+115°59'03.6"W

Red Rocks Canyon Campground (BLM) MAP:°07'49.5"N+115°23'08.3"W

Bally's Las Vegas Casino back overnight parking area MAP:°06'42.3"N+115°09'57.4"W


  1. I got the same impression of Vegas on this trip - dirtier, more panhandlers and just generally rundown. We've seen it like this on other visits but then by our next visit it seemed like a big effort had been made to clean it up and chase the panhandlers off. Hopefully they do that again.

    Downtown Vegas, however, is looking better than it has for years.

  2. I'm really enjoying your tour. When we lived in Vegas in the 90's I would take the kids hiking at Red Rock Canyon. Back then there wasn't a fee to do the scenic loop which I highly recommend. There's definitely a sleaze factor to Vegas and we knew we didn't want to raise the kids there but it can be an entertaining place for a few days.


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