Hiking to a hot spring

On Saturday night we camped at the Temple Bar campground at Lake Mead. Well, near Lake Mead. It was a nice enough campsite, but there wasn’t really much to do other than boating.

Our campsite at Lake Mead National Recreation Area's Temple Bar Campground
Our campsite

So on Sunday morning we packed everything up (so we could give another campground a shot that night), and headed to the White Rock Canyon/Arizona Hot Springs hike. This is the route, from US-93 all the way to the Colorado River. It’s a solid 3 miles to the hot springs, and then 3 miles uphill, through the gravel wash, the whole way back.

Route of the White Rock Canyon/Arizona Hot Springs hike
Route of the hike
Climb to Safety in case of Flash Flood sign
Thankfully our hike was flash flood free
White Rock Canyon foliage
The canyon was all-abloom
Stephanie and Justin in White Rock Canyon
Posing in a carved out section
At the edge of the Colorado River, downstream from Hoover Dam
At the edge of the Colorado River (this is becoming a thing)
The Colorado River, downstream from Hoover Dam
The surprisingly deep blue water, downstream from Hoover Dam
Stephanie climbing a ladder to reach the Arizona Hot Springs
You have to climb a 20 foot ladder to reach the hot springs
the Arizona Hot Springs
The water was 100-120°F, like a hot bath

We soaked in our bathing suits for a good long while, ate lunch, and took care not to get the water in our noses:

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.

Yikes! So far, still alive.

We hiked out of the canyon with the sun at our backs, made it across Hoover Dam in bumper to bumper traffic, and decided to try our luck Sunday night at the Las Vegas Bay campground. Apparently our luck had run out.

That night the winds picked up, and were threatening to blow our tent away. We tied it down with heavy rocks and hoped for the worst to pass, but when we got in the tent to see how it felt from the inside, we discovered everything was covered with a visible layer of sand. It had managed to blow in through the mesh sides of the tent, even with the rainfly on.

Well that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In any other circumstances we could have endured it, but with Las Vegas less than an hour away, we packed it all up as fast as we could—not easy to take down a tent with winds gusting up to 20mph—and headed for the Golden Nugget.



ok wondering, why do they put sand bags at either end of the hot springs?

katie—good question: they did that to hold back some of the water to make a little pool, about 2-3 feet deep. actually there were 3 small walls of sandbags (you can only see 2 of them in my photo), creating three different pools, that got warmer the farther up you went.

I love this bleak landscape – awesome photos and a real weekend challange.

mark (levitt)

Your adventures do not cease to happen nor impress. Bathing suits? Feh; sounds like there was ample privacy.

Ha, until the family showed up with a two dogs and a young son…


I hiked to the Hot Springs at night. After you get out of the canyon and by the river it’s an easier hike. There’s a lot amateur rock climbing, but the sand in the canyon is the worst. A member of our group sprained their ankle on the way back from the hot springs where it looks rockier on the map to the left. If you’re planning on doing this at night, BE CAREFUL, bring extra flashlights, a good first aid kit, and a tent, just in case. There’s also known to be Mountain Lions and Rattlesnakes in this territory, so you need to be extra careful, especially at night. We started at 9 at night and didn’t get out until about 3:30, 4, so plan for earlier if you want this to be a night time experience.



Thanks for this report.

I’ve been looking for camping near LV and this may be it.

Question. Do you have to pay to camp? Do you need a permit?


Mary, I believe there’s a $10 entrance fee to Lake Mead National Recreation area, but I don’t recall if there was also a specific camping fee. It’s very likely there was, but I’m guessing it was minimal. Check out nps.gov for more info.


Cool thanks a lot!


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