Water Bucket

Craig OuthierFebruary 20, 2020
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A few years ago, right around the time I started this job, I had a notion to write a roundup-style travel story about all the great hot springs destinations in Arizona. Fun, right?

The only problem: We don’t have that many great hot springs destinations in Arizona. The handful I did find were either unsightly little trickles in the far reaches of the state, or overly trafficked hot-tub scenes crowded with men who looked like they made cheap pizza for a living. With unnervingly direct stares.

And then there was Castle Hot Springs, the legendary wellness resort where JFK once convalesced, shuttered since a fire gutted it in the mid-1970s. I desperately wanted to visit, but the resort’s three hot springs pools – fed by clean, non-sulfuric water that rose up hot from the depths of the Bradshaw Mountains, about an hour northeast of Phoenix – were strictly off limits to the public. And I mean strictly. The resort’s rough-and-tumble caretakers were rumored to have traded gunfire on occasion with ATV-mounted interlopers who tried to force their way onto the property.

Photo courtesy Castle Hot Springs
Photo courtesy Castle Hot Springs

“Such stories only supercharged the resort’s mystique: Castle Hot Springs was clearly the El Dorado of natural Arizona mineral bathing.”

Such stories only supercharged the resort’s mystique: Castle Hot Springs was clearly the El Dorado of natural Arizona mineral bathing.

Well – wouldn’t you know it? – the resort reopened a couple of winters ago, with lavish new guestrooms, an impressive working vegetable and herb farm, a dynamic staff of chefs, mixologists and massage therapists, and a nightly rate topping $1,000 that every guest I spoke to said was worth every penny.

Naturally, Castle Hot Springs was an easy choice – low-hanging fruit, you might say – for our 2020 Bucket List! issue, a spring-centric roundup of all the most epic once-in-a-lifetime experiences Arizona has to offer. Under strict marching orders, writer Chris Malloy didn’t simply ping the most exclusive retreats, or high-dollar restaurants (though Binkley’s does make an appearance). He also searched for the elusive, and the fanciful – like the lovely cinematic fantasy that graces our cover. You can find it all right here.

We hope it puts a little spring(s) in your spring. As hot or cold as you want them.

Do you know a Valley resident of any age who’s moving the chains, making a difference or otherwise crushing it? Nominate them for PHOENIX magazine’s 2020 Great 48 issue, an across-the-board showcase of fabulous Phoenicians in business, politics, the arts, you name it.

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