The Arizona Hot Springs hike has become one of our favorites and for obvious reasons. What more could you want out of a hike than canyons, the Colorado River, and a hot spring that reaches temperatures well over 110 degrees Fahrenheit?
The hot springs are located 35 miles from the Las Vegas strip and just south of the Hoover Dam. They’re tucked between a colorful slot canyon and offers between 2-3 pools to enjoy a long soak in.
How Can You Access the Arizona Hot Springs?
You can access the Arizona Hot Springs by boat via the Colorado River or by hiking a 3.2-mile trail right off Highway 93. While no permits are required, we’d recommend getting a map of the hike that can be found here. During our visit, we opted to follow the trail.
The trail begins by taking you underneath the freeway and down gravel filled wash. You will then have to make a decision between 2 separate routes to the hot springs. Hot Spring Canyon approaches the spring from behind. White Rock Canyon, on the other hand, allows you to gain access from the river. We chose the Hot Spring Canyon route. Dogs ARE welcome at this trail, but the White Rock Canyon trail features a 20-foot ladder up into the hot springs. The other trail allowed us to have our dog wait at the opposite end so we didn’t need to live him at the bottom of a ladder.
While the Hot Spring Canyon trail is about a half-mile shorter, it’s much steeper and more exposed.
When Should I Go?
Since Nevada and Arizona are both a desert environment, the hike can get extremely hot. If you are planning to visit the Arizona Hot Springs hike in late spring or summer, it’s highly advisable that you go in the early morning. The hike is pretty much exposed to constant sunlight at all times. There have been several fatalities due to the heat which is why the trail is closed from June through August.
If you have the choice, we’d recommend visiting during the winter. We made our hike into the hot springs at about 12:00pm in early February. It was much cooler and leaving so late in the day helped us avoid the mid-afternoon rush that tends to accumulate at the hot springs. Remember, this is a very popular hike so you can’t expect to get the springs all to yourself. However, if you choose to go during the winter, you can expect fewer people, especially during the 2nd half of the day.
What Should I Bring?
Most people do the Arizona Hot Springs hike as a day trip since it’s about 7-miles roundtrip, while others make it into an overnight trip. If you’re hiking during the winter, we’d advise getting appropriate gear. Temperatures see a significant drop at night.
1. Sunscreen – Even during the winter, I found myself getting burnt under the Arizona and Nevada sky. Be sure to apply sunscreen throughout the day to avoid getting burnt.
2. Water – If we’re hiking longer distances, we each bring a Camelback collapsable hydration pack. They’re compact, light, and carry a fair amount of water that’s enough for us and the dog. There are signs all over the trailhead parking lot warning of dehydration and sunstroke. Make sure you come prepared!
3. Lightweight Backpacking Food – During a day trip, we usually love to make sandwiches or PB&J for a little something to get us through the 2nd half of the hike. More recently, we’ve been loving Jonesbar granola bars as an extra energy boost.
4. Hiking Boots – You’re going to need appropriate shoes for this hike. The trail is filled with many beautiful obstacles including several scrambles, gravel, and boulders. I use a brand called Hi-Tech and David uses Red Head. Both can be found fairly cheap and provided us with the right amount of grip to conquer some of the rougher terrain.
Overall Thoughts of the Arizona Hot Springs Hike
The hike was long, exhausting, but so incredibly worthwhile. Once we descended down another large boulder, we reached 3 pools that got cooler the further you moved away from the source. Apparently, the first hot spring that we came across is usually not there. That was the warmest spring of them all at 110 degrees and was almost too hot for us to stay in. We opted for the 2nd and 3rd springs for most of the duration of our soak. The hot springs pretty much sat inside the shade from a slot canyon the entire time.
Since it is a thermal pool, there are several warnings by the springs about signs of a brain-eating amoeba called Naegleria Fowleri. These are generally common in most natural hot springs and can lead to a fatal infection if it travels up your nasal passage. These situations are rare but should be taken into account any time you visit a hot spring.
Overall, the hike to this hot spring is on our list of top 5 around the country. The Arizona Hot Springs hike alone was incredible and fun to take with the dog. The hot springs themselves were well hidden from the elements and in the most beautiful slot canyon. If you’re in the area, it is well worth the detour. Just be sure to respect the fragile environment, others around you, and take out any trash you bring in (including dog poop)!