Our new home, Kendal at Lexington, offers a variety of short excursions to local points of interest. On previous visits to the Homestead resort just down the road in Hot Springs, I had always wanted to visit the Jefferson Pools, but their dilapidated state deterred me. The pools were closed in 2017 because of safety concerns, but the Homestead refurbished and reopened them in 2022. Now seemed to be a good time.
Ten travelers met our bus and driver Darryl bright and early for the hour's drive to Warm Springs. It is a scenic trip, mostly on twisty back roads. We were glad the driving was in Darryl's capable hands.
We arrived at the pools, now called the Warm Springs Pools, in plenty of time for our 10:00 reservations.
Bath County is one of the few places, in my opinion, prettier than Rockbridge County.
The Reception House is adjacent to the 12-sided "Ladies Bathhouse" in the background and the gazebo around the "Drinking Pool."
On the day of our visit, families were assigned to the Ladies Bathhouse and co-ed and singles groups enjoyed the Gentlemen's Bathhouse.
While we waited for our appointed time, most of the group hung out in the shade of the gazebo.
The well in the center was ostensibly the drinking pool for those who wished to take the waters internally. A nearby sign, however, specified "no drinking." I asked the attendant and she said that they didn't monitor either the minerals or the germs in the water, so they couldn't recommend it. Nevertheless, she said, many people come to fill containers from the spring.
I was bold enough to take a sip (outside the gazebo) and haven't incurred any ill effects. Yet. It wasn't very tasty water with its high sulphur content, but it wasn't nasty either.
Sylvia, third from the right, arranged this fine trip for us. Thanks, Sylvia!
Our assigned location was the Gentlemen's Bathhouse, only a few steps away from the Ladies Bathhouse. Back in the day the gentlemen probably skinny dipped, but unless you reserve one of the "swimsuit optional" time slots, bathing suits are required.
One of our number quipped that nowadays we were more configured for "chunky dipping" anyway.
The extensions to the basic octagonal structure were changing rooms.
The interior shows the curtained changing rooms.
A pair of wooden stairs is used to enter and exit the pool. Old stone stairs on opposite sides of the pool must have been left over from earlier days.
The black "arches" are pool noodles that we could use to help with buoyancy. The pool is six feet deep on average, so they were quite useful. These noodles are awaiting their people outside the changing rooms.
To the right of the picture above the stone platform is a door leading down to the "waterfall spa." The springs put out almost 2 million gallons per day so there is a need for an outflow. A sluice gate to the left of the stone platform releases the water into a channel. Visitors can clamber down and get a vigorous massage under the "waterfall." I tried it, but the stone floor of the channel was not my cup of tea. I'm not fond of reflexology.
The water in the pool was crystal clear. Some of the larger stones provided a perching place for those who didn't have noodles. The stone steps can be seen in the background.
The rope across the pool is just something to hang onto, not a divider.
We were admonished not to splash or talk loudly, let alone dive, as the point of the experience was to relax. One young couple spent the entire time in an almost Zen-like trance as they took turns gently massaging each other.
The springs sent up occasional swarms of bubbles along with the warm water. They tickled.
I enjoyed my soak, but exited early to take pictures.
The stream flowing from under the pool is the outlet from the waterfall. I waited for a while hoping to capture someone's feet as they climbed down the stairs into the channel, but time was limited.
Rising bubbles create ripples in the stream.
The rocks are encrusted with tiny bubbles.
Elsewhere close to the drinking pool, the bubbles are numerous enough and large enough to make the water appear to boil.
The waving, hairlike plant (or alga?) only occurs in the warm spring water. The surface stream on the far side is cold and lacks the greenery.
Another angle on the confluence between the warm spring issuing from the Ladies' Bathhouse and the cold surface stream.
I believe the doors all lead to dressing rooms. They were returned to their original locations and specifications in the recent restoration. In the past I suppose that there was a deck all around the building that gave access to the rooms.
The Ladies' Bathhouse had far more dressing rooms than the Gents'. Sensible designers!
After our relaxing soak, we climbed back onto the bus for a drive to Hot Springs and lunch at the Sam Snead Tavern.
Slammin' Sammy Snead was born and grew up in the area. He started caddying at the Homestead at the tender age of seven. After his golfing career, he retired in Hot Springs and died there in 2002.
The Tavern has a trove of memorabilia including the 42 balls from his holes-in-one. He achieved this feat with every club in the bag except the putter.
I'm sorry I can't rave about our meal there. The food was good, but the service was slooooow. Nevermind, we were still relaxed and had plenty of time to chat with our fellow travelers and driver Darryl.
The building housing the tavern is a former bank. The vault makes a VERY secure wine cellar.
After our tasty, but belated, lunch, we were back onto the bus for our return to Kendal at Lexington.
Click your "back" button to return to the previous page or click for our picture album.