Overview: There are several hot springs in the scenic, volcanic Black Mountains south of the Hoover Dam. The most accessible by foot are the Arizona Hot Springs. Erosion has created a slot canyon thru these mountains we now call White Rock Canyon. The beautiful sheer black walls lining this canyon are interrupted by the occasional bright white granite boulders that have been brought here by flash floods over the years.
Warnings: Flash Flood Safety in Slot Canyons
1) Get the latest weather information
2) Become familiar with the terrain and know your escape routes
3) Be aware that deadly flash flood waters can travel from many miles away with travel times of 10 hours or more.
4) Clear skies do not guarantee dry slot canyons!
5) Always let someone know your itinerary
1) Do not enter slot canyons and rugged terrain during stormy or wet weather
2) Do not attempt to cross floodwaters by vehicle or on foot
3) Do not camp along streams and washes if there is a threat of flooding
Hot Spring Safety: Some undeveloped hot springs will boil you alive. Use Caution, Arizona Hot Springs consist of groundwater that is heated at depth by contact with molten rock and moves to the surface through faults at the rate of 400 gallons per minute. The water temperature changes and has been recorded between 85 and 120 degrees fahrenheit in the past. It is highly mineralized containing chloride, sulphate, sodium, potassium, calcium, and floride. Naegleria Fowleria, an amoeba common to thermal pools, may be present and could enter through the nose causing a rare infection and death. DO NOT dive into pools, splash water, or submerge your head.
Hike: From the trailhead its downhill all the way to the Colorado River. The trail follows a ridgeline for the first half mile then enters the slot rather abruptly. In a very short distance the walls on either side rise one hundred feet above. The canyon snakes back and forth offering constant anticipation of what is around the next bend. Forward vision is seldom more than one hundred yards. After 1.5 miles the canyon opens up briefly, perhaps for a quarter mile then narrows back to a slot. The walls of the canyon now tower 500 feet above and will continue to rise to over 1,000 feet ahead. Although there are other slot canyons that feed into White Rock I saw little chance of finding an escape route during most of the canyon if needed. Big Horn Sheep are seen quite often on the cliffs above but the noise of an individual hiking on the sandy, rocky canyon bottom and the resulting echo precludes any chance of sneaking up on animals.
At about 3 miles the canyon opens up to the banks of the Colorado River. The Colorado water appears a beautiful emerald color and is quite clear and cold. The beach is more pebbles than sand and sandals would be a welcome accessory for walking along the river as well as for the hot springs. Use caution around the Colorado as there are strong currents in this area. Ducks and other water fowl are plenty. Take the trail south along the Colorado up over and around various obstacles to some nice panoramic views of the Black Canyon. Traveling about a quarter mile will bring you to another beach with restrooms. There are two slot canyons to your left. Take the first one off to the northeast and stay in the canyon bottom. There is a natural arch on your left. The canyon becomes very narrow and you start to encounter water flowing. With the sound of waterfalls ahead you are certainly in the right place. Again snaking back and forth the anticipation builds as to what is ahead. You may not have a solitary experience but generally you may encounter only a handful of people.
A 20 foot steel ladder is anchored to the side wall and must be climbed next to a waterfall whose flow fluctuates. Use caution as the ladder is certain to be wet. Up top you will come to the first of the hot springs pools enhanced with sandbags to make it tub depth. The slot is about five feet wide here and the walls hundreds of feet high. You can work your way further up the slot to two more hot tubs and venture a little further if you are feeling ambitious. After a relaxing time return the way you came. Its up hill all the way back to the trailhead, with about 900 feet of gain.
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The Arizona Hot Springs consist of groundwater that is heated at depth by contact with molten rock and moves to the surface through faults at the rate of 400 gallons per minute. The water temperature is between 85 degrees to 120 degrees farenheit. It is highly mineralized containing chloride, sulphate, sodium, potassium, calcium, and fluoride.
White Rock Canyon is a strikingly beautiful volcanic area. There is a wide variety of desert plants to be found, including indigo bush, ground cherry, rush-milkweed, rabbit brush, Mormon tea, desert fir, cheesebush, globemallow, desert tobacco, desert trumpet, rock nettle, rock daisy, and windmills. Rocks are primarily volcanic and volcanic ash, with some granite boulders washed down from the Black Mountains.
Arizona Hot Springs hike is not advised in the summer. If you choose to go, take lots of water and watch out for rattlesnakes. Do not put your hands or feet on ledges, in bushes, under or around rocks where you cannot see.
Directions to the Hot Springs
Hike down a spectacular volcanic canyon to the Colorado River below Hoover Dam and relax in a pleasant hot spring in a nearby side canyon.
From the Alan Bible Visitor Center, follow US Hwy 93 east 8.4 miles (4.2 miles past Hoover Dam). A dirt parking area can be seen on your right. Your car is now parked at the head of the White Rock Canyon.
Follow this wash downhill to the river. Follow the river 1/4 mile south over the hill where you will find the hot springs up the side canyon. Warning: A 20' ladder must be climbed to reach the best hot springs. This canyon gets its name from a huge white boulder that was carried down the canyon by a flash flood. Exact time of that flood is not known.
- Naegleria fowleria, an amoeba common to thermal pools, may be present and could enter through the nose causing a rare infection and death. Do not dive into pools, splash water, or submerge your head.