Benton Hot Springs
Photo © http://www.historicbentonhotsprings.com
Benton Hot Springs is located in a bucolic valley across from Montgomery Peak and the northernmost section of the White Mountains in the Sierra Nevada. Sitting in your personal hot tub during the daytime hours, you can marvel at the height and bulk of the White Mountains (especially the 13,000 foot ridge-line of tundra that extends for over 10 miles in that vicinity). At night, your star-gazing is enhanced by Benton's location as one of the least light-polluted areas in the entire U.S.
You are surrounded by the high desert ecosystem of the Eastern Sierra, augmented by strategically placed ornamental bushes, that keep each campsite semi-private. You may see Jack Rabbits zipping from bush to bush, along with small flocks of migratory birds.
This spot has been hosting visitors since the 1860s (and has some period structures to prove it) but has some relatively modern indoor accommodations for those requiring such amenities. It is, however, the juxtaposition of outdoor camping with a generous concrete lined bath for each campsite that is unmatched in the region.
Benton Hot Springs makes an excellent base camp for explorations of the nearby countryside, including a scenic drive along Highway 120 and Benton Crossing Road to Wildrose Summit (a premier view spot of the central Sierra Nevada from the southernmost ridge-line of the Glass Mountains). The Nevada state line is minutes away by car and herds of wild horses can be found in this part of Nevada.
There is one restaurant and gas station at the crossroads of Highways 6 and 120 in Benton Station (population 300) and the rest of the town is strictly rural.
Don't expect a slate of activities for tourists to review. This is a place for quiet reflection on the grandeur of nature, with a hot soak thrown in to soothe the body.
Fees: $20 per night
The campsites can accommodate visitors of all abilities, but the concrete baths have no such amenities.