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Arizona Hot Springs

Arizona has many hot springs, ranging from comfortable private resorts, to isolated natural pools on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. For a list of 60 of them, with a map showing each one, you can visit the Arizona page of The Hot Springs Enthusiast. You'll need a GPS or practice reading topographical maps to use the information there. Alternately, try one of the springs below.

 Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area

This is our favorite. My wife and I spent many days and night here last winter, including an eight-day stretch in March, when we also went treasure hunting in the surrounding desert. For that story, see the page, "Arrowhead Hunting In Arizona."It can be a bit crowded on the weekends here, but with good reason. This part of Arizona is beautiful.

There are two hot spring tubs, made of rocks and cement, with enough trees to provide shade and some privacy. The water is around 104 delicious degrees in both. The area right around the tubs is fenced off to keep out the all-terrain-vehicles that tear up the surrounding dunes on weekends. There are no closing times, and the best time to use the pools may be under the stars at night.

It cost $3 per day (and night) to use the area, or you can do like we did, and buy an annual pass at the BLM office in Safford for $30. You are allowed to stay for up to two weeks per month. There is a cement outhouse, and several covered picnic tables (first-come, first-serve for these camping sites). You can also camp for free in the desert outside of the area, but you still are supposed to pay the fee for using the hot springs.

This is an area that is very popular with the RV crowd. There did seem to be a natural separation between the RVers and the group we shared a fire with each night. Our gathering included a retired heavy equipment operator, an old Mayan indian, a guy that left each morning to sell stuffed animals by the side of the highway, and several "rainbow kids," who shared their food and music with us nightly.

Most mornings were cold, so we ran to the hot springs and climbed in. We soaked for hours, sometimes bringing reading material, until the sun warmed up our van. Walks in the desert every day brought us to interesting hills, cliffs and swamps (a result of the hot springs run-off). I chased a coyote one morning, and there were tracks of javelina, deer and many other animals.

For more information, visit the BLM's Hot Well Dunes Webpage. There is a good map showing you how to get to the hot springs Here.

Roper Lake State Park

After a long day of driving Arizona highways, or hiking in the desert, the natural hot springs at Roper Lake are a nice place to relax. Roper Lake State Park provides a great place to spend a few days or just a few hours. Desert vegetation, a peaceful lake and a view of Mount Graham, just a few miles away, frames a beautiful picture for visitors to enjoy. It costs $5 per day to use the park, which is about five miles south of Safford. For more information, visit the Roper Lake State Park Website.

Watson Wash Hot Well

Northwest of Safford, Watson Wash is an above ground, circular stone tub with 101 degree water flowing out of a well casing into the pool. The flow rate is very high, which helps maintain the cleanliness of the tub. It has a reputation as a party location, so be ready for a crowd on the weekends. Because it is a few hundred yards up a wash off the road, nudity is common here. For more information on this and other hotsprings near Safford, stop in at the visitor center in the center of Safford.

Related page: Colorado Hot Springs

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