Las Vegas, NV: Arizona Hot Springs

Perfect in the winter, this desert hike snakes through ancient and colorful canyons to the hidden Arizona Hot Springs.
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Perfect in the winter, this desert hike snakes through ancient and colorful canyons to the hidden Arizona Hot Springs.

Arizona Hot Spring is probably the most popular (read: hot) spring in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Plus: The naturally heated springs sit in a narrow canyon surrounded by vertical walls—which probably doesn't hurt its popularity. The water gets up to around 111 degrees (F) on average. The hot springs can only be reached by hiking in or from the Colorado River. (Read more here: www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/black-canyon-water-trail.htm.) 

From the east side of the new parking lot, take the path south, crossing under the highway to the old White Rock Canyon dirt parking area and trailhead. Follow White Rock Canyon wash southwest as it narrows into a canyon. At the three-way junction with the Liberty Bell Arch Trail and an alternative route to the hot springs, continue west in the main wash. The canyon opens up briefly before swallowing you up again and spitting you out on to the banks of the Colorado River. Take time to scan the cliffs above the canyon for desert bighorn sheep. 

The trail turns south adjacent to the river. Some people choose to camp along the river as there are vault toilets nearby. Follow the trail along the river as it winds up and down and around for a couple of hundred yards. Eventually the trail (which can be easily lost here) ascends briefly to a flat spot in the rocks. Pause here for sparkling views down Black Canyon before descending steeply over the other side into another wash. Follow this wash northeast away from the river and into the adjacent canyon. The wash will get narrower and wetter as you approach the ladder beneath the hot springs. Here is a good spot to leave your excess items. Climb the ladder and take a soak. As you go further back in the canyon, the water gets hotter. 

To return to the trailhead, retrace your steps. You’ll be hiking uphill in the wash most of the way back. There is a way out if you continue back in the canyon. It requires some scrambling of varying degrees and is not covered in this hike description. 

Random Information
- The source of these springs is currently unknown.
- White Rock Canyon gets its name from the huge boulders that were carried down from Mt. Wilson (to the east).
- Desert bighorn sheep are considered a unique sub-species suited to hot, dry climates. They have longer legs and smaller bodies than their Rocky Mountain relatives.

Warnings
- NPS have closed access to this spring in summer due to emergencies caused by hiking in extreme heat.
- Avoid putting your head under water. There is an amoeba that lives in this water that enters through your nose (not your mouth). Death is rare, but please be careful.

Trail Facts

  • City: Las Vegas
  • Distance: 0.0
  • Contact: lake_information@nps.gov
  • Land Type: National Recreation Area

Waypoints

AHS001
Location: 35.980218, -114.697405
Parking lot. Follow trail from west side of lot, head south under the highway. Begin trail at old parking lot directly south from the highway bridge over trail.
AHS002
Location: 35.977277, -114.697735
From trailhead go west on gravel path. Head towards main wash.
AHS003
Location: 35.975728, -114.704796
At 3-way junction stay on middle trail which descends into canyon in wash.
AHS004
Location: 35.974323, -114.711122
You are now in the canyon.
AHS005
Location: 35.969983, -114.721781
Wash widens for about a hundred yards.
AHS006
Location: 35.965160, -114.725868
Canyon walls narrow again.
AHS007
Location: 35.963155, -114.729203
Reach river, walk south adjacent to water.
AHS008
Location: 35.962724, -114.729086
Camping is possible @ this sandy beach.
AHS009
Location: 35.962061, -114.728964
Go out on rocky overlook for views of Colorado River. From here follow path east, over the rocks to another sandy beach.
AHS010
Location: 35.961681, -114.728598
From beach hike southeast away from the river, up & over rocks. Trail disapears. Hike over the wash - not along the wash. Just south of the wash, a short scramble will bring you back to the trail.
AHS011
Location: 35.961418, -114.728374
After a short climb, hike away from river. Veer right through a small crevice via a short scramble. Look for trail sign above (east) of you.
AHS012
Location: 35.961262, -114.727955
Heading east the wash is below you.
AHS013
Location: 35.961064, -114.727538
Take a quick diversion (heading west) from the main trail for nice views. Once back on the main trail, head southeast. Descend the steep, gravel trail to thewash below.
AHS014
Location: 35.960825, -114.728228
This rocky outcrop provides a nice place for a break.
AHS 015
Location: 35.960721, -114.726911
Head east into the wash. Some scrambling in narrow, wet canyons required.
AHS016
Location: 35.960422, -114.725804
Old, but secure ladder will take you to the hot springs.
AHS017
Location: 35.960500, -114.725510
The hike ends here. Retrace your steps to return to the trailhead.