The Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs are a cascading series of hot pools tucked inside of a canyon – an incredible hike with gorgeous desert views takes you to an amazing place to soak and relax! The trail is a loop, and part of it requires hiking right through the pools. It can be done as a day hike, or as an overnight backpacking trip. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the Arizona hot springs hike (they’re also referred to as Ringbolt hot springs, so don’t be confused if you see both!), from what to expect on the trail to some tips for enjoying the springs.
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Table of Contents
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About the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
This hike isn’t terribly difficult, but it does have some challenges that might be tough for a beginner hiker. It’s do-able for most people, but if you don’t have a lot of hiking experience, it can be tough! Make sure to read this guide, and be prepared.
There’s one important, unique safety tip for these hot springs – don’t put your head underwater! And actually, it’s a good rule of thumb to never do this in any hot spring. Naegleria fowleri is a brain eating amoeba that lives in warm water, and it has been found at these hot springs. The chances are getting it are very small, but if you do, the chances of surviving it are very small too. But, you don’t have to be afraid to go in hot springs at all. The amoeba gets in through your nose, so as long as you keep your head above water, you’ll be okay!
Arizona (ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail Stats
Length: 5.9 miles (9.5 km) loop
Elevation Gain: 1223 feet (373 meters)
Hike Time: I consider myself to be an average hiker, and this trail took me 4 hours and 22 minutes, including a long soak at the hot spring and a short break at the river. You can check out my hike on Strava!
Leave No Trace on the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
Anytime you’re outdoors, it’s essential that you practice Leave No Trace (LNT). LNT is a set of seven principles that help us understand our impact on the outdoors – because while we usually have good intentions, the environment is more fragile than we think, and one snap-second decision can cause damage to the environment that will take the earth years, even decades to repair. This is a pretty popular hike, so it’s super important to make sure it stays open to the public and prevent damage! Check out this guide to hot springs etiquette too, and ensure a safe, happy soak for everybody!
Leave No Trace means enjoying the outdoors without disrupting nature, as much as it’s possible to do so. Here are the 7 principles of LNT, and how they apply when you hike the Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs trail!
- Plan ahead and prepare – read this guide, make sure you know have the right gear, and bring extra water.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces – stay on the trail to avoid trampling grasses and plants!
- Dispose of waste properly – don’t leave trash, or anything else, behind. Pack it out!
- Leave what you find – I know it can be tempting to take a cool rock, but leave these things where they belong! Animals often use these, and if everyone takes one, the trail won’t be as pretty.
- Minimize campfire impacts – campfires are only allowed in existing fire rings at the camping areas.
- Respect wildlife – don’t approach wild animals, and never feed them.
- Be considerate of other visitors – yield to other hikers, and be respectful – no speakers or loud music. Keep noise to a minimum while you’re soaking!
The Best Time to Hike the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
The Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs hike actually closes from May 15 – September 30th each year! This is due to the extreme heat that makes it unsafe, and unpleasant, to hike and soak.
The best time to do the Arizona (Ringbolt) is in the winter. November through February the daytime temperatures are much cooler, usually staying in the 60s. Spring and fall are do-able too, but definitely very hot, and not my preferred weather for hiking or soaking in a hot spring. This hike is very exposed, with very little shade, so make sure you bring sun protection, and lots of extra water.
Flash flooding is also a risk if it’s raining, so be sure to check the weather forecast, though rain isn’t super common in this area.
Don’t Forget Your Pass!
The Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs are located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. A pass is required for anywhere within this area, which can be purchased online or at one of the entrance stations. There’s no entrance station near the trailhead, so I recommend purchasing it online.
A day pass for the Lake Mead National Recreation Area costs $30 per car, but if you visit national parks often (or at least more than twice a year), I recommend getting an America the Beautiful Pass! It’s an annual pass that will get you into every national park (national recreation areas and national monuments are included) in the country for an entire year, for just $80.
What to Bring to Hike the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
When you hike the Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs trail, here’s what you’ll need to bring!
- Hiking Shoes – this trail is steep, so make sure you’ve got something with grip. I prefer hiking in sandals and wore my Chacos for this hike, but boots are a good idea for more ankle support. I love my Danner boots, but keep in mind that part of the loop requires walking through the water, but going barefoot shouldn’t be an issue.
- Layers – if you’re backpacking it gets much colder as the sun goes down, so a lightweight windbreaker or a fleece is a good idea. For the cold, I love my Columbia puffy jacket – it’s lightweight, and water resistant!
- Backpack – you’ll need a backpack for water and snacks. I use an Osprey Hikelite 26L, or a Deuter Aircontact for backpacking trips.
- Headlamp – going at sunrise or sunset is a great way to avoid crowds, but make sure you have a headlamp for hiking in the dark!
- Hiking poles – the hike is steep, so if you have knee pain going downhill, poles help a lot with that!
- Water – water is a must, always. This hike is steep and exposed, so I’d recommend bringing an extra water bottle. I brought my 2L hydration pack, and a Nalgene with electrolytes and drank almost all of my water!
- Tent – if you’re backpacking, you need somewhere to sleep! I love my super light Big Agnes Tiger Wall tent, and I also use a footprint to keep the bottom safe & dry.
- Sleeping Bag – make sure you have something warm enough! I use this ALPS Mountaineering sleeping bag.
- Sleeping Pad – an essential for a comfy night of sleep! I have this Sea to Summit pad, but am planning to upgrade to a thicker one, like this Therm-a-Rest pad soon!
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Directions to the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Hike
The trailhead for the Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs hike is located in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, just past the Hoover Dam. It’s in Arizona, but right on the border with Nevada. If you’re flying in for your trip, the closest airport is the Harry Reid International Airport, in Las Vegas.
Expedia is a good way to find flights and rental cars, I also super recommend signing up for Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) – they send you amazing deals, so you can find cheap flights to Seattle, and to destinations all over the world. The free account is great and totally worth the few minutes it takes to sign up, and I do recommend the premium account too!
You do need a car to get to the trailhead. If you fly into Vegas, you can rent a car through Discover Cars or Rental Cars. But, a great alternative to a rental car is a tiny home on wheels! With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option for vans is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb for campers – you can rent a van, RV, or trailer from a person in the area.
From Vegas, you’ll take I-11, which merges with Highway 93. Shortly after you drive past the Hoover Dam, there will be a left turn to the Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs trailhead.
Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trailhead Coordinates: 35.9802061,-114.6973784
Hiking the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
Once you’ve parked and are ready to start hiking, here’s what you can expect on the Arizona (Ringbolt) hot springs trail! I hiked it clockwise, so this description is written form that perspective – but feel free to go the other way!
Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trailhead
The trailhead has a toilet and trash cans, and from there you’ll walk downhill and under the bridge! The hike is a loop, but it’s a lollipop shape, so whether you decide to go clockwise or counterclockwise, you’ll start the same way.
Up on the Ridge
I think going counterclockwise is easier – this way, your trek back from the hot springs will be a gradual, consistent slope.
As you start making your way towards the hot springs, you’ll go uphill first. This section doesn’t last very long, and you’ll walk along the ridge line and ascend, with views opening up in front of you.
Downhill to Arizona Hot Springs
After that short uphill section is over, you’ll mostly be heading downhill to the hot springs. There are sections where you’ll have to climb a little on the rocks, some steep slopes, and I definitely recommend having a map handy, as it can be easy to lose the trail. You’ll keep going until you reach the hot springs – you’ll hear the running water before you see them!
Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs
The hot springs are located inside of the canyon, surrounded by rock walls on both sides. This means that to continue hiking, you need to walk through the water! But of course, you should take some time to relax and soak before continuing on.
There are four pools that cascade downwards, and a fifth one at the bottom that’s all by itself. You can leave your things at the top, but if you are continuing on the loop you’ll need to get them anyway – there’s another rocky section where you can leave them at the bottom of the pools. Walking through the water is pretty easy, except for at the top pool, when you first get into the water. The rock is slippery and you need to slide down a little!
The first pool is very hot, so it’s actually a little painful to walk through – but you’ll quickly get down to the lower pools, which feel a lot nicer. There is plenty of room, but it is a popular spot, so be careful as you walk, and make room for others!
Detour to the Colorado River
After you’re done soaking, you’ll go down the metal ladder to keep going. There’s some more water to walk through, and the rocks can be really slippery, so watch your step and hold on to the walls as you go! The turnoff for the loop trail is easy to miss (the sign is a little hidden by a tree), so have your map handy, but I do recommend going past it to take a look at the river – and if you’re camping, the campsites are near the river as well.
The views at the river are beautiful, and some people even kayak or canoe to get to the hot springs!
Back to the Parking Lot
Find the turnoff where you’ll go uphill to begin your trek back to the parking lot. When you get to the top, there’s another really beautiful view of the river. From here, it was definitely a little hard to navigate and figure out where to go – I took several wrong turns – so have your map out. You’ll be walking close to the river for a bit before turning away from it. There are a few more campsites by the river here, and they tend to be less popular because they’re farther from the hot springs.
From there, the trail is pretty consistent – you’re going uphill pretty gradually, so it’s not too hard. However, the sand is really soft, pretty much the whole way, which definitely makes it a calf workout. Keep going, and soon you’ll find yourself back at the parking lot!
Where to Stay Near the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs
You can turn your hike into a little getaway, and stay somewhere close by! Here are my favorite options for places to stay close to this area..
Glamping, Cabins, & Yurts
For a unique place to stay during your trip, check out Hipcamp! It’s like Airbnb for campsites – and you can find yurts, cabins, glamping sites, and more.
You can even get $10 off your first booking here!
A Camper van
With a camper van, you get a vehicle and a place to sleep, all in one! This is my favorite way to travel, and you can rent a fully decked out van with Escape Campervans. Another option is to use Outdoorsy, which is more like Airbnb – you can rent vans, RVs, and trailers from people who live nearby!
Find a Campsite
Whether you car camp, tent camp, or rent a tiny home on wheels, The Dyrt is the best way to find campsites! There are lots of developed campgrounds to stay in around Lake Mead, but also plenty of free spots. There’s BLM land really close to the trail – which means you can camp for free!
There are lots options for free camping near the trail – for tips on finding the best ones, check out this guide.
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Hotels and Lodges
There are also plenty of hotels and vacation rentals close to the Arizona hot springs trail, like the Hoover Dam Lodge.
For more options, check out this map of places to stay. Make sure to change the dates, and zoom out to see all of your options!Booking.com
More Adventures Near the Arizona (Ringbolt) Hot Springs Trail
Have you hiked this trail, or are you adding it to your bucket list? Let me know in a comment below!
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