Even though the state of Arizona doesn’t triumph as being home to a large number of free hot springs, it still houses some of the most soothing soaking destinations in the country which shows in how popular and frequented these spots are by locals and visitors alike.
There you’ll find one of the most contrasting selections of hot soaking, despite not boasting a large number. So make it a weekend getaway and soothe the ache in your soul and body by immersing yourself in the feel of the best free and natural hot springs in Arizona.
Arizona Hot Springs
Arizona Hot Springs – AKA Ringbolt Hot Springs – is the ultimate reward for your tremendous efforts. Unfortunately, enjoying these springs doesn’t consist of merely getting there and soaking in them. There is no way to reach this precious canyon-walled gem without hopping on a trailhead (or trailheads, considering that there are quite a few alternatives to choose from), and that’s no effortless or easy feat.
The thrill and excitement together with the challenge itself, as well as a clear blue lagoon at the heart of White Rock Canyon and Liberty Bell Arch is what makes Arizona Hot Springs the most popular destination on this entire list. It is favored by families, large groups of people and solo adventurers alike.
There you’ll find some of the most picturesque and Instagram-worthy spots that are topped by three pools of 111-120°F nestled beneath the mighty canyon arches.
Note that the trailheads are closed every year from May to September because of the heat. It’s also important to remember that the pools contain a deadly amoeba, so be sure not to put your head under the water. Especially your nose!
Make sure you do research of your own and be equipped with proper gear – including footwear – before heading out there. This is a strenuous hike, not fit for inexperienced hikers.
Verde Hot Springs
Verde Hot Springs is the hippest, the artsiest and probably the most interesting pick on this list. This is the type of place where you may walk in on a person smoking cannabis while soaking or writing motivational quotes on rock walls before taking a dip.
What used to be paradise for nudists in the 1920s is now a secluded and semi-under-the-radar destination with two hot spring pools. Lined by the Verde River on one side and held by the rugged mountainous cliffs on the other, the bigger pool of Verde Hot Springs is 6 feet deep and wide enough to accommodate dozens of soakers. The temperature sits between 98-100°F. The second pool on the other hand – enveloped by painted rocky walls on all sides except one – is only deep and wide enough for two soakers to sit, with the temperature falling under 102°F.
The journey to get to Verde Hot Springs is rough to say the least, so make sure you do your research and double-check weather conditions before heading out. Don’t forget that you’ll need to cross a river during your hike, so wear water sandals. Once you complete this tough path you’ll be greeted with one of the absolute coolest hot springs in all of the US, with rivers, cliffs, pieces of art, motivational or not so innocent quotes and utter spiritual peace.
Sheep Bridge Hot Springs
While we’re chilling on the banks of Verde River, it’s only fair to pay a visit to Sheep Bridge Hot Springs – a carefully concealed primitive thermal pool nestled among the long green leaves of Arizonian trees.
Sheep Bridge Hot Springs is only found when you know where to look, but despite its obscure location it’s still frequented by local hikers and adventurers.
Sheep Bridge is the ideal hot ‘n cold plunging opportunity as it’s situated close to the Verde River. This shallow rock walled pool boasts a temperature of 100°F and serves as one of the most soothing and healing hot springs destinations in the state of Arizona.
It’s important to remember that for such a small thermal pool, it’s still pretty tough to get to: there’s a rope nearby that you can use to jump into the river. So maybe be extra careful if you’re not an adrenaline junkie. Just sayin’.
Luckily for some, camping is also available in the area, which makes Sheep Bridge Hot Springs an extra appealing and sought-out destination that is sure to help you properly relax and forget all your worries- at least for a while.
Kaiser Hot Springs
Kaiser Hot Springs is another secluded thermal treasure in Arizona. Burrowed in Kaiser Canyon (*shocker*), it offers a primitive soak for hot springs enthusiasts.
Kaiser HS requires only a 1.5 hike to get to, but is still an ideal destination after such a long walk in the typical Arizona heat to bid your stress and worries farewell. That is why it’s suggested to visit during spring and fall.
Kaiser is an absolutely lovely rock-walled shallow pool flowing at 100°F and wide enough to accommodate up to 4 people. Unfortunately there is no room to stretch out at all, but it’s still a nice and very relaxing experience in the beautiful desert scenery.
One of the perks of Kaiser is that it’s a pet-friendly destination, although they need to be kept on a leash and out of the pool at all times.
The hiking trail can get rough, so make sure you bring proper footwear as well as plenty of water (a lot more than you think you’ll need) and sunscreen to avoid dehydration, considering that Kaiser Hot Springs is directly exposed to the sun.
Also, don’t forget to pay a visit to some of the attractions of this area such as Burro Creek, Burro Creek Mine and Kaiser Canyon itself.
Every hot spring has its own quirks. They all have a set of rules that visitors need to follow regardless of what kind of spring you’re visiting. Visitors need to be extra conscious of their time in free and natural hot springs destinations seeing as they get no constant maintenance the way commercialized springs do.
For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts” here. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.
To Wrap Up
As you can see, the hot springs range in Arizona is varied enough to please everyone from hippies to seasoned hikers to regular mere mortals like us. However, no matter which destination you choose to explore, it’s vital to take precautions and follow etiquette tips to make your experience special and most importantly, danger-free. So plan, prep, use this article as your starting point and head for your deserved weekend soak.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the state web pages covering the hot springs to check for conditions, times, recommendations, and closures (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!