Discover 4 Medicinal Hot Springs Throughout Arizona

Written by Sandy Porter
Updated: June 29, 2023
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There’s nothing like a good, hot soak in a tub to ease stress, relieve tension, and just plain relax. So, there’s a good reason that hot springs in Arizona are a huge tourist attraction. Not everyone’s sold on them, though – after all, they’re outdoors, uncontrolled, and they don’t use chemicals to purify or clean the water.

But if you’re curious and really want to consider slipping into some steamy pools on your vacation, it’s okay to ask some questions and learn about these naturally occurring waters. You’ll be glad you did – especially when you make your way to these top medicinal hot springs in Arizona.

What Is A Hot Spring?

Kirkham Hot Springs in Idaho

What is a hot spring? A geothermal-heated pool of water that usually contains high mineral content and temperatures above 99 degrees.

©drewthehobbit/Shutterstock.com

First off, you might not be totally sure what a hot spring is. There are a few definitions floating around, which can lead to some of the confusion on them. However, a basic definition could be seen as a spring that is naturally heated by geothermal activity to higher temperatures than other bodies around it. They also have temperatures reaching at least 99 degrees (hotter than average human body temperatures).

You may also hear of “warm springs” which are similar, but their temperatures aren’t as high.

How Are Hot Springs Formed?

Some of the mystery around these hot springs in Arizona is how they are formed. Most commonly, they form when rainwater and groundwater are heated by the magma beneath the Earth’s surface. The water that flows through the underground areas and then resurfaces and pools. This means that some hot springs are dangerously hot and not suitable for humans.

Are Hot Springs Safe To Swim In?

Yellowstone Hot Springs

Hot springs exist all over America and other locations with geothermal activity.

©Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

So, if hot springs are related to magma (read: volcanic activity and super-heated elements), are hot springs safe to go swimming in? The answer is, sometimes yes, sometimes no. It all depends on the spring, current local conditions, and your own conditions and limitations.

Hot Temperatures

As noted above, not all hot springs are suitable for humans to enjoy. Temperatures in some may reach significantly hotter than safe temperatures. The temperatures of a given hot spring can shift, too – so it’s not just “certain springs” that may reach this intense heat.

If you’re going to a managed hot spring, the management will surely be checking temperatures and helping folks avoid getting burned. But unmanaged or mismanaged springs pose a higher risk for second- or third-degree burns. If possible, bring a thermometer with you to test the waters.

Hyperthermia From Prolonged Exposure

Additionally, extreme temperature variations for your body can cause some serious issues, including hyperthermia. This means you’ve gotten too hot (hyper “high”) and may suffer from heat stroke, which may lead to brain and organ damage.

It’s important not to stay in a hot spring for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

Exacerbated Health Conditions

pregnancy

Pregnant women should never soak in hot springs. The risks of infection and amoebae are far too high to be worth the risk.

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If you are at risk for cardiovascular health concerns, are pregnant, have an infection or illness, or generally are sensitive to high temperatures, going into a hot spring is not a good idea. The temperatures, sulfur, and other factors in the spring could cause severe health problems for you. It is never safe for pregnant women to soak in hot springs.

What Are Hot Springs Good For?

For centuries, folks have been visiting hot springs for medicinal purposes. The springs usually contain high mineral levels like calcium, radium, and lithium, and these are thought by many to have medicinal properties. The heat, as well, is often used for rehabilitation practices and mental health (via stress relief and relaxation).

Do Hot Springs Really Have Healing Powers?

woman soaking in a hot spring in Iceland

The world over, hot springs have been seen for centuries as having healing properties. Studies show this is true in some cases.

©Gorodisskij/Shutterstock.com

Long before Americans were gliding into hot springs in Arizona, folks from Japan and Iceland (among others) have been using hot springs for healing. Some studies have shown that the hot springs have helped speed up recovery and wound healing, help mild skin conditions, improve circulation, and others.

  • Good for the skin: Soaking in hot springs can help you naturally detoxify your skin thanks to the high levels of silica in the water. It may also soften rough, dry skin and may heal psoriasis, eczema, or acne.
  • Relaxation and mental healing: While a dip into a hot spring for 15 minutes a day won’t cure your mental health conditions, it can certainly help relieve symptoms. The heat, ancient minerals, and feeling of the water all help to relax the body, which in turn helps relax the mind.
  • May help improves circulation: Hydrostatic pressure around your body in a hot spring may help blood flow improve in your limbs, as well as improve your overall metabolism.
  • Natural painkiller: Soaking in a hot spring may block pain receptors for individuals with joint pain, fibromyalgia, or arthritis.

Best Medicinal Hot Springs In Arizona

Ready to take the plunge? These are the most highly rated hot springs in Arizona, used for medicinal, relaxation, and healing purposes.

Arizona Hot Spring

Arizona Hot Spring

Arizona Hot Spring can be reached by the Colorado River by boat or by a 2.5 mile hike.

©Beth Schroeder/Shutterstock.com

Location: Arizona Hot Spring Trail – near Lake Mead Recreation Center

The Arizona Hot Spring isn’t the cushy hot spring you’ll find nestled into a developed spa. Rather, the hot spring resides either a boat ride on the Colorado River or a hike of 2.5 miles. Two trails will take you there: one through White Rock Canyon, the other through Hot Spring Canyon. The latter trail is steeper but shorter. Either way, if you’re up for keeping the dips throughout your visit, you can camp near the springs.

Verde Hot Springs

Verde Hot Springs has a temperature of around 99 degrees.

©Greg Walters from Eaton, United States, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Location: Yavapai County

Two hot springs reside at the location for Verde Hot Springs. One is tucked indoors in an art gallery, with a square, tiled tub with water temperatures consistently around 102 degrees. The second is located outside, next to the river, with temperatures hovering around 99 degrees. The springs are accessible via road, depending on conditions. Before heading out, check for road closures, as fire damage and storms sometimes make them inaccessible. If they are open and you head over, you’ll find parking near the river. You’ll need to cross two rivers on foot to get the rest of the way to the springs, but when you arrive, it will be worth it! The location is the former site of the 1920s hot springs resort which burned down. Murals and other evidence of the heyday still remain among the ruins, most importantly the pools themselves. You can pitch a tent and camp here if you like.

Kachina Mineral Springs

Location: Safford

For those looking for a low-key spa getaway, the Kachina Mineral Springs is one of your best hot springs in Arizona options. Here, several indoor tubs invite you to soak, with or without reservations. The simple spa is more about functionality and rest than luxury, meaning budget-savvy folks can enjoy without fear of breaking the bank. Massage and soak combos are available, too, for a reasonable price.

Castle Hot Springs

Castle Hot Springs in Arizona

Castle Hot Springs is a luxurious destination.

©Acline444/Shutterstock.com

Location: Morristown

For those looking for a more luxurious hot spring in Arizona visit, Castle Hot Springs is among the most highly recommended. A visit here, though, is limited to overnight guests — at least if you want to soak in the springs! The rates are fairly significant, but for those who opt for the resort stay, many wonderful opportunities to soak, dine, and relax are included.

Three luxurious tubs set into a rock face overlooking the desert create an oasis in the sand. The temperatures of the pools range from 98 degrees to 105, depending, and are large enough for several swimmers at once. The water in the pools is crystal clear (unlike many that have a chalky or murky appearance). Included in the stay are all meals, activities like pickleball and other games, and, of course, lodging.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Beth Schroeder/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Sandy Porter is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering house garden plants, mammals, reptiles, and birds. Sandy has been writing professionally since 2017, has a Bachelor’s degree and is currently seeking her Masters. She has had lifelong experience with home gardens, cats, dogs, horses, lizards, frogs, and turtles and has written about these plants and animals professionally since 2017. She spent many years volunteering with horses and looks forward to extending that volunteer work into equine therapy in the near future. Sandy lives in Chicago, where she enjoys spotting wildlife such as foxes, rabbits, owls, hawks, and skunks on her patio and micro-garden.

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