Soothing Warm Waters Make Castle Hot Springs The Best Restorative Wellness Retreat
For centuries, people have sought out hot springs all over the world for bathing, healing, socializing and spiritual intentions. Hot springs are the world’s first spas, with naturally warm, mineral-rich water flowing from the ground that have soothed aches and pains for millennia, and the historical icon that is Castle Hot Springs has to be one of the best. Nestled in a rugged and remote desert northwest of Phoenix, it is part holistic hideaway, part outdoor playground, part Hollywood Wild West set—and all a uniquely perfect getaway.
The deep history of this tucked-away retreat can be seen in the layers of rocks that surround the pools. The Yavapai tribe first journeyed to the medicinal waters of the hot springs to soak in the rich minerals, known to treat sore muscles, improve mobility and boost skin health.
With the arrival of the railroad southeast of Wickenburg, Ariz. In 1895, entrepreneur Frank M. Murphy purchased the property to capitalize on the restoring benefits of the water and the desert environment while boasting the first wellness resort in the state.
The resort opened in 1886, and the first brave guests had to endure a difficult five-hour stagecoach ride to reach the springs. The journey was made easier in 1898 with the arrival of a nearby train depot, followed by the first horse bus service 10 years later. At the turn of the 20th century, throngs of people continued moving west, many for their health. Celebrities and dignitaries from around the world found their way to the waters of Castle Hot Springs. The guest register includes magnates of industry like the Rockefeller and Pew families, as well as the Vanderbilts and Astors.
President Theodore Roosevelt stayed at the resort during the dedication of the Roosevelt Dam, and in the 1940s the resort was used as a military rehabilitation center to treat veterans wounded during World War II. One famous serviceman who rested at Castle Hot Springs was future president John F. Kennedy.
After fires destroyed some of the buildings in 1976 and again in 1996, the resort remained dormant for 40 years, reopening in 2019 after a complete renovation embodying the original sense of escape, relaxation and adventure. Today, the 1,100-acre property is home to 30 cabins and villas that allow guests to commune with nature at every turn. For example, the Sky View Cabins are perfectly positioned for stargazing while the Spring Bungalows feature private fireplaces as well as outdoor tubs that source mineral water directly from the springs.
To further connect with nature, guests are invited to actively partake in the landscape and culture of the Bradshaw Mountains. Hiking destinations include a private slot canyon in a remote section of the Sonoran Desert, with groups led by expert outdoorsmen with vast knowledge of the surrounding ecosystem along the way—which includes saguaro cacti and desert wildflowers. Along the route are vast vistas and rock formations unfolding layers of geology that tell a fascinating story of history. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the resident pair of peregrine falcons.
Those looking to further their quest for adventure, and who have the mental and physical agility, should experience the Via Ferrata, or “Iron Way” system, with ladders, rungs and steel cables affixed to the rocks. There are only a handful of such courses in the U.S., and this one was designed specifically for Castle Hot Springs to explore the majesty of the Sonoran Desert from a position few experience.
After you’re significantly tired and sore from the day’s adventures, soaking in the ancient natural hot springs filled with rich minerals is just the ticket. The unique water is particularly rich in lithium, magnesium and bicarbonates that are said to help lift your mood, calm your mind, and ease aching joints and muscles. All the elements come together—fire, water, earth and air—to create a mecca of renewal for your mind, body and soul.
Finally, when the table and the organic farm and greenhouse are mere feet apart, it’s no wonder that chefs John Amann and Chris Schuetta and resident agronomist Ian Beger work in tandem to design menus, select seeds and create delights like honey-roasted carrots and tomato-onion jam for their restaurant, Harvest. They’re known for their ability to produce otherworldly dishes to dream of from humble ingredients. For an in-depth look at the diversity and sustainability of their operation and to sample the goods, take a tour of the farm and get your hands dirty.
The history, the healing powers and the hospitality of Castle Hot Springs will have you dreaming of the desert and all its beauty for years to come. lovely
Castle Hot Springs
5050 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown, AZ