After four decades of disuse and a parade of frustrated owners, Arizona’s first resort is finally reborn.
By Lauren Loftus | Phoenix Magazine
The road to Castle Hot Springs hasn’t changed much in the last century. At 8 a.m. on an impossibly sunny morning in July, the heat is already smothering and oppressive. Humidity from the latest summer storm makes the air thick and viscous like gravy. Steam seems to rise from the wild-burro-ridden wash bed made verdant and lush from the four inches of rain that sent a flash flood ripping through the canyon a week ago, turning the sandy, rocky road into a muddy mess.
It’s no wonder that the site of the historic resort built around an ancient hot spring – 50 miles north of Central Phoenix, deep in a shaded nook of the Bradshaw Mountains near Lake Pleasant in Yavapai
County – has always closed during the summer monsoon since it opened in 1896. And when the place reopens this fall after 42 years, the tradition of operating seasonally, from October to May, will continue.
“The storms and the easily flooded dirt road add to the eerie sense of foreboding,” says Steve Sampson, director of sales and marketing at Westroc Hospitality, managing partner of the resort, while navigating his Jeep across the bumpy 10-mile turnoff from Carefree Highway (SR 74). Eerie and foreboding might not be the ideal word choice. Daunting, yes; unnerving, even. But “worth it” comes to mind most as the Jeep turns a corner and the green, shady palm oasis of Castle Hot Springs unfurls like a mirage made permanent in the sweltering desert.