Arizona might not be the first place you think about when you hear the words “hot springs,” but there are plenty of places to enjoy in this southwestern desert state. From desert camping under a crystal clear night sky to watching all the colors of the sunset on a mountain hike, Tucson is a popular place for outdoor fun.
While there aren’t any springs in town, a two-hour road trip through some beautiful scenery will bring you to the closest place to soak. Here is a list of the hot springs closest to Tucson, AZ, in order of proximity:
Kachina Mineral Springs – 126 miles
Now that Roper Lake State Park has closed their hot springs to visitors, Kachina Mineral Springs and Essence of Tranquility are finding themselves the main attractions of Safford, about two hours northeast of Tucson. The waters of Kachina are pumped into a simple, single-story building near the foot of Mt. Graham.
Guests can choose from three sizes of indoor mineral pools: the family-sized tub that fits a party of eight, two large tubs that accommodate a couple or trio, and four individual options. Large and individual tubs are tucked away in private rooms. The toasty water is 108℉ (42℃) at the source, cooling slightly before finding its way to the tubs, and is perfect for those chilly desert nights.
Make it a day at the spa by adding a massage to your soak, and spend an afternoon in luxury. Cold drinks and a small display of basic lotions and things for sale in the office should you find yourself in need of hydration.
Essence of Tranquility – 127 miles
Walking distance from Kachina, Essence of Tranquility is a prime place to springs-hop if you’re hoping to try out different pools. Six indoor and outdoor soaking tubs await guests with water from 98 to 105℉ (37-41℃).
Five of the pools are private and named after a variety of different setups: one with a waterfall, one surrounded by stone walls like a cave, one with a “Greek Vacation” wall mural, etc. For larger groups or people ready to mingle, the large communal pool is a great place to be social.
Massage services are available in separate treatment rooms to round out your relaxation.
Outside, lounge areas serve as a gathering space out of the water. They also host guests who spend the night in one of the rustic casitas. Casitas have shared restrooms and a communal kitchen, and there’s also a bunk house available for anyone who doesn’t require their own room.
Those interested in the mystical will appreciate the small office shop offering items like arts and crafts, jewelry, rocks and gemstones, lotions, incense, etc. With a friendly staff and plenty of privacy, Essence of Tranquility makes for a relaxing retreat.
Hot Well Dunes Hot Springs – 129 miles
As the name implies, Hot Well Dunes Hot Springs is well out into the desert. Like the two other springs in Safford, it has stunning views of the Purple Mountains on the horizon. With wide open spaces and plenty of sand–2,000 acres worth–this makes an ideal spot for ATV enthusiasts if they can stand the heat.
Two million years ago, this was the location of a decent-sized lake with its own beach. Today, the only water around is the two small cement pools filled with hot mineral water. Pumps to these in-ground, hot tub-like structures are powered by the sun and carry the 106℉ (41℃) from the source.
With this much land to explore, you’ll want to spend the night. Primitive campgrounds have 10 tent and RV sites to choose from, and toilet facilities are open.
Whatever your desert vacation to Tucson entails, a side trip to one–or more–of these Arizona hot springs will have you saying goodbye to any stress you’ve built up by getting the whole family to agree on a radio station (or a restaurant). Plan a soak stop and make some memories that will last a lifetime.