The road to the hottest hot springs in Arizona was completely destroyed by flash floods.
At the end of the arduous journey, hot water as hot as 180 degrees F awaited me.
Located in eastern Arizona near the border with New Mexico, the town of Morenci is an active mining town.
One of the largest copper mines in North America is located here, owned 72% by Freeport-McMoRan and 28% by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co.
There, you can see a line of huge special vehicles as big as a house crossing a public road.
Former miners' leisure spot
Near the historic Morenci Mine, which opened in 1872, there remains a hot spring where miners used to gather in the old days.
Let's go there.
About a half-hour drive south of the mine, I found a road in the desert with the name, Gillard Hot Springs Road.
As I headed west on that dirt road, I found that the entire road was blocked off with barbed wire.
I got out of the car here and continued onward through the barbed wire fence.
By the way, the most common cause of death in the desert is said to be drowning.
When heavy rain falls in a desert with poor water retention capacity, rainwater does not soak into the ground but travels across the surface, causing a major flood.
The torrent had completely washed out the road ahead and replaced it with a narrow slot canyon.
Because of this disappearance of the road, the wild hot springs, once known as a leisure spot for miners, have now been abandoned.
It was easy to jump down to the valley floor about ten feet below, but on the other hand, it would be a challenge to climb up.
With some apprehension, I gradually descended the valley.
Although not as beautiful as the popular tourist attraction Antelope Canyon, the structure was exactly the same.
The rocks and stones lying in the dry valley were eroded into round shapes, suggesting that heavy rains would inundate this gap with large amounts of rainwater.
After walking for about 30 minutes, the area opened up and trees could be seen.
It was a riverbed of the Gila River.
The area around the Gila Hot Springs Campground in New Mexico is upstream, so this area, which has washed down to Arizona, is midstream.
ReferenceGila Hot Springs Campground - Hot Springs in New Mexico
This is a hot spring campground that becomes clothing optional after dark. It is located in a mountainous area and gets cold at night, so be sure to take all possible measures to protect yourself from the cold. Minimal facilities ...
There was no structure other than a sign warning of burns on a sandbar.
It appears that I have arrived at the hot springs I was looking for.
The banks near the river surface were discolored brown.
The distance was about 150 feet along the river, from which the spring gushed over a wide area.
As I approached, sure enough, it was burned.
The water temp was high at 180 degrees F.
The places where the water is well mixed with river water were good, but they did not mix evenly and were dangerous.
Another drawback was that the water clarity of the river was not so high.
It was not a pleasant soak, but I was deeply moved by the fact that it was the hottest hot spring in Arizona.