Agua Caliente Regional Park - Arizona

The first thing I do is go to places named hot springs.

It was a beautiful oasis near Tucson, Arizona.

Unknown history

A 30 minute drive east of downtown Tucson.

Entrance 01

I came to the foot of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The Agua Caliente Regional Park, maintained by Pima County, has no admission fee.

Road 01

Agua Caliente means a hot spring in Spanish.

Is that why you came?
Parking Lot 01

The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War, ceded vast areas of land from Mexico to the United States, including all of California, but some areas such as Tucson still belonged to Mexico.

Signboard 02

In 1853, these areas became U.S. territories through the Gadsden Purchase, which was intended to settle border disputes and other issues.

So Spanish place names remain here and there.

Buildings 01

Hunter-gatherer remains dating back to 3500 B.C. have been found in the park, suggesting that the spring has existed since ancient times.

Picnic Tables 02

There was a settlement of the Native American Hohokam tribe around 1150.

After the Gadsden Purchase, it was used as a military encampment.

Bridge 01

As the name suggests, there were actually hot springs in the area!

In 1874, a health resort, orchard, and ranch were built, advertising the benefits of the natural hot springs.

Pond 01

After 1916, it was privately owned and used by successive wealthy owners to entertain their guests.

In 1985, it was developed as Pima County's first nature park and opened to the public.

Ditch 02

Reaching the main pond from the parking lot was easy, but finding the hot springs and their traces took some time.

Ditch 03

It was in the palm thickets on the east side of the main pond, by the parking lot where I started.

Ditch 01

How did this happen?

The unfortunate news is that wealthy people dynamited the source twice when it was privately owned.

Signboard 01

It is said to have happened in the 1930s.

Before that time, hot and cold springs appeared to have sprung up adjacent to each other.

Source 01

It seems that the effort was intended to increase the amount of water, but it was a disaster.

The springs merged into one source and the flow rate dropped to less than half.

Source 02

In the 1960s, another wealthy man dynamited it again, further reducing the flow rate to less than half.

The water in the main pond is pumped from a well, as the source has run completely dry in recent years.

Bubbling 01

At the time of my visit, the gush was barely visible, along with gas.

79 degrees F lukewarm water.

Water Temp 01

The mystical atmosphere left a lasting impression on me.

Soaking is prohibited.

Source 03

Agua Caliente Regional Park, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.

My rating

Type: Walk-in

Rule: Soaking is prohibited

Chemical use: No

Water temp: Up to 79 degrees F

Official website

  • Writer

Hot Springer Ken

A hot spring enthusiast based in Japan. Toured over 300 North American hot springs while working in Texas from 2016 to 2022. For updates, visit X or Instagram!