OverviewNote: There is now a ladder up at the waterfall! (3-19-10)
Located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area just four miles downstream of Hoover Dam along the Colorado River, Arizona Hot Springs Canyon is a little known gem in the Las Vegas Area. Laying at the western end of the Arizona Hot Springs Canyon is Arizona Hot Springs, often called Ringbolt Hot Springs. These are some very nice hot springs that can draw some crowds on the weekends.
A few cool things about this canyon is that many sections are very narrow, giving it the feel of the typical slot canyons of the Colorado Pleteau. Some parts even require some climbing/rappelling. All in all, there are three pitches to this canyon. There is a section where off the chart petroglyphs can also be found. Also, the geology in this area is stunning!
Route InfoYou can access this canyon either from the road or from the river. However, those coming from the trailhead would be most likely to venture down in this canyon. The normal trail to Arizona Hot Springs is from White Rock Canyon. However, if your looking for a different route with a little more difficulty, this is your route. Also, another reason to use this route is to avoid the ladder at the base of the Hot Springs, which isn't there time to time. When it is there, I hear that it is very slick and can be in bad shape. By going this route, you could reach the hot springs without dealing with the ladder. Also, this route is alot shorter then using White Rock Canyon.
Part 1-From top to bottom, the canyon is around 1.6 miles long. As you hike from the trailhead, you will see quite a few trails. What you want to do is keep veering left when the opportunity is presented. From the start, White Rock Canyon is directly in front of you. Arizona Hot Springs Canyon is the next canyon over on the left. Because you keep headed left, you will reach a little saddle. From here, you can see where the canyon begins to form. You will be presented with one more opportunity to take a left, however, don't take it. A wash will form and then you will see a slot canyon form. This is Arizona Hot Springs Canyon.
Part 2-Right off the bat, the canyon is very narrow. Shortly after your in the canyon proper, you will be met with about a 20ft waterfall (dry). You could rappel off of this (not bolted), however, there is a 3rd-4th down-climb you can do to the right of it. It looks alot scarier then it actually is. This is the first pitch.
Part 3-Shortly after this you reach another waterfall (dry). It is about 10-15ft, however, it is sloped to where you can easily down-climb it (2nd-3rd class). That is the second pitch.
Part 4-After this, the canyon widens dramatically and remains this way for over a mile. There are a few narrow spots, but nothing like the first part. It follows a typical desert wash. Along the way, you can see some ancient petroglyphs. These are located on the right side of the canyon on some big boulders right next to the wash.
Part 5-As you continue following the wash, you will start to see some greenery appear- You are getting close. The canyon closes up again as you enter the hot springs. Before you reach the hot springs, there is one little section that needs to be passed. There are a bunch of choke-stones and gnarly rock that needs to be climbed over. This is fairly easy, except for the fact that it is wet from the hot springs. The main issue is that it could be slick. Your going to need to get wet in this section (that should be the reason why you come to this area). The top pool is the hottest pool and you will have to wade through knee deep 111 Fahrenheit water. There are two more pools before the waterfall, but these aren't as nice as the top one. Next is the waterfall, which is 20ft. Usually, there is a ladder to climb up and down, however, the ladder may or may not be there (contact the NPS about that one). In the event that it isn't there or if you just want to have some fun, there are two bolts atop the falls that you can use to rappel off of. If its not there, and your coming from White Rock Canyon, you will have to free climb the 20ft falls. There is a crack the right of the falls that presents you with the best climbing opportunity.
Part 6- After this section, the canyon continues to be narrow as you follow the water from the Hot Springs. So spots are really narrow and very slick. There are a few more pools here and there, but they are not even close to being as hot as the first pool. The canyon starts to get sandier and widen somewhat. Eventually, the water goes away and you reach the Colorado River.
From here, you can either go back up the canyon, or make a loop out of the whole thing and go up White Rock Canyon. Don't forgot to use the outhouses at the end of the canyon!
Red Tape and WarningsThere is no red tape in this area. It can be accessed year round.
Summer Temperatures: Hiking through Arizona Hot Springs Canyon is not recommended in the summer months. Temperatures can sore well above 100 Fahrenheit and can act like an oven especially when your inside a canyon. If you do decide to visit this canyon in the summer, bring plenty of water and start early.
Flash Floods: As with most canyons, Arizona Hot Springs Canyon is prone to flash floods. Know the weather before you go. Get to high ground as soon as you see signs of flash floods.
Naegleria Fowleria:: is 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 (from NPS). This warning usually hits people really hard, but as said, it is a very rare infection.
You cannot camp around the trailhead, however, you can camp further down in the canyon or along the banks of the Colorado River. Many people will do multi-day rafting or canoe trips and go all around in this area. This is a popular area for them to camp. In wet seasons, choose your camping area wisely because the whole area is extremely prone to flash flooding. For more information about backcountry camping and established camping, click THIS LINK.
From Las Vegas- Head SE on Interstate 515. Go through Henderson. After Henderson, you come to an intersection between Highway 93 and 95. Highway 95 goes south while Highway 93 goes east towards Hoover Dam. You want to go towards Hoover Dam so take the 93 through Boulder City. Cross Hoover Dam. Now, set your odometers. After you cross the dam, it is 4.2 miles to the trail-head. It will be on your right. Park here
External LinksCurrent Weather Conditions
Current weather conditions for the area as predicted by NOAA.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
The official website for Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Arizona Hot Springs
The NPS page for Arizona Hot Springs