Guide to Caliente, Nevada

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Sometimes you just need to get out of town. Know what I mean? A few short years ago, before I was married and had a family, I would take trips on the fly all the time..day trips, overnight trips, visit this-person, that-place, a weekend here or there. Every chance I had to go explore, I took. It’s been quite different in the last two years, and although I’m adapting well, I’d be lying if I said I’m not pretty consistently dreaming of the next vacation or adventure.

I’ve traveled with my one-year-old six times in her first year, a few times solo and I have to say, it is doable for me, but it also sort of totally stresses me out. If my husband is there, it’s another story, but solo, I’m borderline meltdown by bedtime. This last week we decided we needed (more like I decided I needed..) a quick trip to celebrate my husband’s birthday, somewhere close enough from Vegas that the car ride wouldn’t be stressful, low-key enough that it wasn’t going to cost us a lot, and adventurous but also relaxing enough so that we would come back feeling refreshed. This short trip to Caliente, Nevada was the perfect getaway.

Caliente is a small town about two hours north of Vegas with a historic train station turned museum, a few restaurants, motels and rv parks, and lots of surrounding beauty for exploring. It’s also a bit cooler than Las Vegas, which was reason enough for our family to escape there for a day. With only a few thousand residents, it’s a sleepy little town, a complete change of pace from the city!


Where to stay:

We chose to stay in the Caliente Hot Spring Motel because it’s at the very end of the town against the mountainside; it’s a quaint little mid-century looking group of buildings on green grass and well, it has natural mineral hot springs, so..I was sold. To make our stay even better, the interior of the motel was cute and clean (with a kitchenette), the hot springs tub rooms were private, also very clean, plus the owner was so friendly and hospitable I felt like we were staying in an air bnb. He even gave us one of the tubs near a hose so we could cool down the water enough for the baby to get in. The hot springs water is naturally geothermically heated to 104 degrees (next time I’m making sure I get to enjoy it that hot!) and natural mineral hot springs have been shown to increase circulation and cell oxygenation, stimulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, and more. For as little as $85 (taxes and everything), it’s a little spa retreat that isn’t going to break the bank. I highly recommend it!

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Where to eat:

The Side Track is definitely the most healthy option for eating in and around the Caliente area. With smoothies and items like the vegan tofu bowl, I’d bet it’s the most fresh option within 50 miles. We had breakfast there after our night’s stay- taking a short walk from the motel to the strip mall that consists of the restaurant, an antique shop, hardware store and grocery store. Like I said, tiny town.


What to do:

I’m sure my list is puny compared to the options that exist of things to do in the area, but some things we enjoyed were:

Kershaw Ryan State Park: Talk about an oasis. About two miles east of Caliente, at the end of a road through some mountains and fields, there is a pocket of lush plant life: trees, grapevines, grass.. all thriving due to natural springs! There is a small wading pond perfect for kids, a volleyball court built into the side of the mountain, a playground and plenty of room for a picnic.

Cathedral Gorge State Park: About 15-20 minutes further up the 93, there is a turn off for this state park. It is GORGEOUS (woah, totally didn’t mean to be punny there). There are walking trails, plus camping and picnicking throughout this eroded bentonite clay gorge; even if just for the drive through the park, it’s totally worth the drive past Caliente.

Pioche: Another few minutes further up the 93 from Cathedral Gorge State Park, there is a little town called Pioche. A historic mining town, it’s got a ghost-town feel, some really cool turn-of-the-century buildings and a few antique shops. It’s also close to Spring Valley State Park. We didn’t make it that far, but from the sounds of it, there is a lot of scenery and outdoor activities to do there as well.

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Have you been to Caliente? Or are you going? I’d love to hear your experience or things you’ve found to do/see there too!

P.S. It’s at least, 10-15 degrees cooler than Las Vegas during the day, so really, it’s a win win in the summer! The nights get even cooler so we woke up with weather in the 50’s!

TravelAshley Ayala