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Tecopa Hot Springs rebrands to capture eco-tourist market

The Tecopa Hot Springs Campground &Pools have been spruced up in recent months following the Inyo County, Ca. award of a new management contract in mid-January to Tecopa Hot Springs Conservancy.

Co-manager Nancy Good said that the first few weeks of operation were dedicated to neglected repairs and much needed cleaning. Good, along with Ryan Thomas and their spouses, submitted a proposal for operation of the grounds for a myriad of reasons, the least of which was to redeem what had become a community eyesore over the past few years.

Good and her husband moved to Tecopa Springs as full-time residents approximately three years ago and boosted the small community’s census population to about 150 people. Locals say however, the true number is really only about 50 residents.

Tecopa residents have long depended on the hot spring pool for bathing, Good said. When the surrounding area was flourishing with active mining operations, miners would visit the hot spring pools for bathing. Over time, she tells, travelers and tourists sought out the springs as “healing” waters, where many would find relief from various physical ailments ranging from skin conditions to sore muscles.

Though the healing stories are anecdotal, Good said she finds the waters to be magical and restorative, offering bathers tension relief and a place to spiritually, emotionally or mentally rejuvenate themselves. “People come here and they feel better. They rest. They restore,” she said.

Tecopa Springs resident Kate Knight, 68, enjoys a nightly soak in the pools and said it has helped her to heal from a thoracic spinal surgery which caused nerve damage in her shoulder. She doesn’t know how the waters work or why they work, she said, but they do. Daily soaks in the pools have helped her to avoid taking narcotic or toxic medications for pain relief. She is a believer in the water’s “healing” ability, she said.

The water, delivered to the pools through geo-thermal artesian springs on the property contains a “crunchy” mixture of calcium, iron, potassium, boron, selenium, sodium, magnesium, sulfates, chlorides and bicarbonates. The only thing added to the water, Good said, is bromine, required by the Department of Health as an antibacterial agent. The water is annually tested and because of its arsenic content, is not drinkable.

Pool temperatures are naturally constant at approximately 105 degrees.

In order to keep the water as uncontaminated as possible – it drains into the Amargosa River, which provides a habitat for the Amargosa Vole, an endangered species, endemic to the area – clothing is not permitted in the pools. Due to the county ordinance prohibiting clothing in the water, the pools are segregated by gender, with the women’s pools on one side of the bathhouse and the men’s on the other. Of the nude bathing requirement, Good said, “Nudity is the great equalizer. All labels disappear as you are naked in the water. Commonalities appear that would never appear elsewhere.”

In addition to ongoing repairs, Good said that new free offerings to guests and the community include Saturday night campfire sing-a-longs and storytelling, as well as Sunday morning mini-hikes and Wednesday 4-by-4 tours. The bath houses are also now open 24-hours per day, in contrast to previous limited hours of operation.

Good said she and her management team see themselves as the keepers of the waters and stewards of the critically endangered environment in Tecopa Springs. With an eye toward capturing the eco-tourism market, Good said she is working to rebrand Tecopa Springs from the gateway to Death Valley to a destination location.

For more information, including events and pricing, visit www.tecopahotspringscampground.com, visit their Facebook page or call (760) 852-4329.

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