Cold air makes the water feel warmer.
Ruby Valley, NV
Found: the natural remedy for bone-chilling days. Location: northeastern Nevada, where 11,000-foot peaks overlook the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Cross-country ski or snowshoe roughly 7 miles to the Ruby Valley Hot Springs along unplowed 4x4 roads to reach this collection of pools just outside the refuge’s eastern border. “The ground around the main pool is all mud in warm weather, so if it’s frozen, you’re golden,” says local Peter Schmidt. That makes winter visits—when daytime temps hover in the mid-teens—prime time for soak seekers. Relax on limestone benches in the largest, 30-foot-wide pool, where water temps hover around 100¡F. Between wafts of steam, scan the steppe for wild horses, pronghorns, and 200 species of birds ( both endemic and migratory) drawn to the protected marsh within the desert. Caution: Beware some of the smaller spring-fed pools. They may look inviting, but they can top out at 122¡F.