Wednesday, February 9, 2011

*Arizona Hot Springs @ White Rock Canyon*

In Progress

I have been on this hike a number of times and each time I enjoy it just as much as the first (well... almost ;)   ). The trailhead has recently changed. It used to be off of Highway 93 South, just past the Hoover dam, on the right hand side. It is now necessary to make a left turn across the freeway at about mile marker 4 or a U-turn to find the parking area. From the parking area head south once again and turn right to walk under the overpass. There is no defined trail but keep walking west until you see the old trail (keep an eye out for the trailhead sign!).
Old Trailhead

New Trailhead
Soon you will enter a sandy wash and shortly after some impressive slot canyons! It is about 2.6 miles to the hot springs and is an easy hike, until you hit the colorado river at least. There is only one path you can take once you're in the slot canyons, so it will not be hard to find the river.

Wash, slots & boulders

Once you come to the river, the trail becomes EXTREMELY hard to find! The first time I went here, we scrambled around a little bit trying to find the trail before finally giving up and asking some hikers returning home. The trail is marked with blue, red and white arrows on the rocks, but they are very difficult to see!!

To find the trail, when you are facing the river head to the left. The sandy trail will turn into rock and you will want to climb above and along the river. Then you will head down into a sandy area again before heading back up to more rocks. You will have to do a tiny bit of climbing here, but nothing too challenging. Keep on the lookout for trailmarkers (arrows)!

Sandy trail to left of river
Go straight back and to the right
Follow along the river

Trail is along the rocks on the left

Looking behind me

Rocky Trail
See the blue, red & white arrow marking the trail above on the rock?
Arrow is directly above my left elbow in the above picture

When you come to a ... where kayakers pull up, you are VERY close! At this point you will probably see some water running and you want to follow that up to the hotsprings. There are a couple mini-waterfalls along the way.
Running water leading to hot springs

Try not to get your shoes too wet, because before you know it you will come to a 20ft ladder that is less steady than I would like it to be! Carefully ascend this ladder, find a place to drop your stuff off (yes there is room at the top of the ladder) & jump in and enjoy the hot water! Depending on the time of year, there are multiple pools which get hotter as you ascend. I have only been able to go in the uppermost pool one time due to the heat. This is a beautiful location with reddish rock and lots of salt on the rocks as well.
Hot springs!

Lowest Pool shown above, In December 2010 this pool was not present!

Upper most pool - Very small space in here, couldn't really get a picture! This is an alternative way out of the canyon, but please keep reading!
Pics from the wash above the hot springs (don't go this way unless you know the route! Read below)

"Liver rock"

The last time I went to the hot springs with a friend of mine, we got very lost on the way home! While we were enjoying our dip in the springs, we met some fellow hikers who told us about another (much shorter) route out of the canyon. Instead of turning around and heading back the way we came, we decided to give this a shot. Bad idea! Very very bad idea!!! The instructions we received were simply to "stay left at the fork." This sounded very simple. However, not only did we never see a clear fork, I also later read online that this way out involves some 3rd and 4th class scrambling that our new friend failed to mention! Since we weren't aware we had to scramble and didn't see any trail markers, we stayed on the wash for hours. Literally. In fact, it became dark out... and we had no light. It may have been a good thing however that it started getting dark because we found the freeway when we saw car lights. We headed that way, climbed a steep hillside and wondered if the parking area was to the right or the left. Which mile marker had we parked at? We couldn't remember... and it was dark. We were at mile marker 7 (instead of 4). We crossed the freeway and decided to try to flag someone down to help us find our car. You would think it would be easy for two girls to get someone to pull over on the side of the road... but not on highway 93 apparently! We literally tried for 45 minutes to get someone to stop for us. We were very cold and tired by this time, and even though we knew we were just a few miles from the parking lot, we didn't know if we should head north or south! We actually eventually had to call a ranger for help, he sent a cop to return us safely to our car :)

Rescued off highway 93! LOL


  1. Have you ever been to (or heard of) Hannah Hot Springs? They are in far eastern Arizona (less than 5 miles from New Mexico). -Mark (

  2. I've heard of it! Never been though. I don't live on the west coast anymore unfortunately but next time I'm out that way I'll have to look it up! :)