If you have heard about a popular 1920s nudist resort, of which all that’s left now is just the foundation and burned-down ruins, you’re either a hardcore local to Yavapai County or Al Capone’s secret admirer, because Verde is still considered to be an off-the-grid getaway (even if it is rumored to be Al Capone’s secret retreat).
If either is true, then you definitely should know that the hidden treasure among these ruins, and the reason Arizona locals frequent this place so much, is the mineral-rich Verde Hot Springs, the sole survivor of the nearly all-consuming fire in 1962.
When you hop on the trail in Camp Verde and complete a hike that’s full of dirt and bumps and river-crossings, you’ll reach your destination and witness the prettiest sight of Verde River, Verde Hot Springs, and the surrounding nature.
Deciding if it’s worth it or not is up to you.
|Address||Child’s Power Rd, Yavapai County, Arizona, 86322|
|Location||26 miles from Camp Verde, Arizona|
|GPS||34°20’52.9″N 111°41’50.5″W (Childs Dispersed Camping Area)|
|Road access||SUV (full of dirt roads)|
What Does Verde Hot Springs Look Like?
I’ve had the privilege of exploring countless hot springs, therefore, it is absolutely safe to say that Verde Hot Springs is the most atypical yet the most beautiful hot spring I’ve ever laid eyes on. It has a personality, a history, and a beauty to it but not in the way you’d expect: the thermal baths are situated among ruins that are decorated and painted over by past visitors. Cliffs, sidewalks, remaining structures, and even the concrete stairs are all used as canvases for colorful and spiritual-style art, as well as a series of quotes that vary between inspirational and outright naughty. This really isn’t a typical hot spring look for ya, but it definitely offers something completely new!
Considering that this place is clothing optional, some say that it’s still the nudist paradise it once was. It accommodates people from numerous different backgrounds, interests, and even intents. Do not be surprised if you get there and encounter a person or two relaxing in a slightly more controversial way: the use of cannabis. But it really is not uncharacteristic of some hot spring frequenters.
Once you hike the dirty and bumpy terrain and get to the ‘entrance’ of the resort, you’ll have to descend the stairs that take you straight to the first Verde thermal pool which is built into a cliff on one side and surrounded by a deck overlooking Verde River on the other. This main pool is more than 6 feet deep, odorless, and big enough to accommodate maybe 7-10 people. Its temperature ranges between 98°F-100°F (36°C-38°C).
The second pool is located within a very short walking distance from the main pool. It is nestled in what probably once used to be one of the spa rooms. Now, its miraculously remaining walls are painted over with the art of the visitors who decided to leave their mark on the place. This pool is big enough to accommodate maybe 4 people and deep enough to just sit in. The temperature falls under 102°F (39°C).
How Do You Get to Verde Hot Springs?
From Camp Verde, AZ (close to Sedona), head southeast on Highway 260. Drive for 8 miles and then turn right on Fossil Creek Road, which is a dirt road.
At this point, the ranger will most probably stop and ask you for a permit to enter either Fossil Creek Wild or the Scenic River Recreation area, but considering that Verde Hot Springs is located outside both, just tell the ranger that you’re going to the hot springs and they’ll let you pass.
From there, it’s an 18-mile drive on a simple route but it’s full of dirt roads so a high-clearance car is definitely recommended for this drive.
Then you’ll reach the junction of FR 708 and FR 502. Take Forest Road 502 south for 6 miles. After that, you’ll reach the Childs Power Plant campground beside the Verde River.
Then hike a little over a mile upstream from the campground and you’ll reach the springs.
Other important tips to take into consideration:
- Verde Hot Springs is clothing optional, so if you are not comfortable with nudity, this may not be the place for you.
- Some say that Verde is off the grid, and some say the opposite, but either way, it’s good to be prepared for crowds
- It offers no amenities
- Camping is allowed (scroll down for more)
- Dogs are allowed on the trail path, but once you get to the pools, they have to be kept on a leash at all times.
- There are no stores nearby, so bring food, snacks, drinks, etc. but follow the Leave No Trace principles
- Do not bring any glass bottles or containers, because it’ll most probably result in someone getting injured considering their high likelihood of breaking. There’s no active cleaning maintenance at Verde Hot Springs.
What to bring along:
- Bring towels!
- Wear hiking shoes and generally be mindful of proper footwear. Don’t forget that you’ll have to cross the river to get to Verde.
- A change of clothes for after your soak.
- If you’re not comfortable being nude, bring a bathing suit.
- Brings lots and lots of water to stay hydrated.
- Sunscreen is a must! But make sure it’s reef-safe and chemical-free in order not to pollute thermal waters. Using sunscreen falls under LNT policy as well!
- Take a high-clearance car!
- You can take some painting materials to leave your mark on the place just like the previous visitors only if you make sure that the materials don’t damage the river and thermal waters!
Seasoned campers don’t need a reminder, but if you’re not considered one just yet but would like to try, this trip offers a free dispersed camping area for all who are interested.
Dispersed camping implies camping outside of the designated campgrounds of the National Forest. It means no services, no amenities, and little to no facilities.
Childs Dispersed Camping Area is managed by USFS (US Forest Services) and is very popular amongst campers.
- It is located very close to Verde Hot Springs ruins
- Is available all year round but is limited to only 5 days
- Offers no amenities but a vault toilet
- Going without clothes in public is not allowed in the camping area
Learn more here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=75354
If camping does not appeal to you, no biggie, because Verde Hot Springs is very close to a few towns, so there is a wide selection of accommodation options to choose from:
Camp Verde, AZ:
Things to Do While Visiting Camp Verde
Camp Verde is rich with ruins. However, not just fire ruins. You can find at least four historical ruin sites close to town. Every single one is so fascinating that you can not decide which one’s more interesting than the other.
So it comes as no surprise to anyone that the ruin sites take top spots on our list:
We have a few options for those who want to learn more about history:
- Camp Verde Historical Society Museum
- Fort Verde State Historic Park
- Verde Valley Archaeological Center
On a more general note: you can enjoy day tours around the area, explore Out of Africa Wildlife Park, or even check out a Private Arizona Wildlife adventure.
The Final Takeaway
Back to the main matter at hand: Verde Hot Spring, is a place as diverse as it gets in terms of art and nature. It’s not your archetypal thermal bath that is rock walled and dirt-bottomed, burrowed deep into dark wild woods. In a way, It’s so much more than that. A means to give you a fresh perspective on things and make you see nature and humanity in a different light, and it’s all because of the art that surrounds the resort ruins.
One might think that visiting Verde Hot Springs is quite risky because of its eccentric demeanor but we would say that it’s a way to create one of the most memorable experiences for you and your loved ones. Whether you are a partner looking for an interesting date idea, a dog owner who just wants to hike with their four-legged furry companion or just a friend who wants to have fun with their inner circle, Verde Hot Springs is here to help you do just that.
Just relax, have fun, and make good memories.
Frequently Asked Questions
Verde Hot Springs is open all year round.
The temperature of the main pool is 98°F-100°F. The second one is 102°F (39°C).
No, you don’t need a permit for Verde Hot Springs. Only if you’re visiting either Fossil Creek Wild or the Scenic River Recreation area. Verde Hot Springs is outside this natural reserve so you don’t need a permit.
It is located very close to Camp Verde, Arizona.