Castle Hot Springs and Other AZ Treasures near Lake Pleasant

Thanks for the tips and empathy as I wrestled the latest WordPress editor to the ground. The WordPress Classic Editor plugin did the trick!

March 2019 – Our new little RZR adventure buggy has been giving us loads of fun in the Arizona desert, introducing us to lots of pretty places and even taking us there in the pre-dawn hours so we can catch the sunrise as it happens.

Castle Hot Springs and Lake Pleasant Arizona RV and RZR trip


From lakes to streams to riverbeds and washes we’ve been seeing lots of new and beautiful places.

Polaris RZR 900 XC EPS with a cooler on the back-min

Ticket to great rides.

Cactus reflections Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min

Desert meets water.

Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min

Where the Agua Fria River (“Cold Water River”) became a manmade lake.

The triple towing is working out well, and we’ll have an article on that soon as we gather more photos. It is quite a train!

Fifth wheel RV triple tow with RZR on utility trailer-min

It’s not fully hitched up in this pic, but this is The Train!

Arizona has seen some crazy weather this winter with a huge snowstorm blowing through last week. Before the snow arrived we caught a glimpse of the full moon balanced on a cactus.

Full moon and saguaro cactus-min

A cactus catches the full moon as it sets.

But dark clouds and a rainbow in the distance signaled the storm that was to come. That evening’s sunset was out of this world!

Rainbow storm clouds Lake Pleasant Arizona

Rainbow and storm clouds over Pleasant Harbor.

Wild sunset Lake Pleasant AZ-min

A wild sunset before the storm.

The next morning there was snow on the mountains. Kids in the Phoenix schools had enough snow to make snowballs, and the mountains looked a lot more like Montana than Arizona!

Lake Pleasant RV Campgrounds Arizona-min

Is this the Arizona desert or somewhere far north?

Scorpion Bay Marina with snow on the mountains Lake Pleasant AZ-min

Snow on the mountains behind Scorpion Bay Marina

Lots of rain and a little snowmelt up north made the water level in Lake Pleasant begin to rise. What a surprise it was when we headed down one road and found the tide coming in!

Lake Pleasant high water covers road-min

The lake got so full it began to cover the roads!

One sunny warm day we took the RZR down Castle Hot Springs Road. This is a dirt road that goes off into remote parts of the Sonoran Desert between northwestern Phoenix and Wickenburg.

Side-by-side dirt trail Arizona-min

A spur off of Castle Hot Springs Road

This road can be driven with a regular passenger car, but it was especially fun in the open air RZR. The road heads past some beautiful craggy mountainsides that are covered with saguaro cacti. Just magnificent!


Beautiful desert scenery

Crazy cactus in Arizona-min

Crazy cactus!

Wild burros live out this way, and we saw a small group watching us closely when we hiked into the brush a ways.

Wild burros Lake Pleasant Arizona-min

Wild burros

They wandered around but kept an eye on us as we approached them.

Wild burro Lake Pleasant Arizona-min


Wild burros Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min


They weren’t sure what to make of Buddy, but when they’d decided he was close enough one gave chase and he ran as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Wild burro chases dog-min

Buddy loves to be chased and he was grinning ear to ear.

15 years ago, before we started RVing full-time we drove this same road in a car and stopped at the boarded up Castle Hot Springs resort to look around.

Castle Hot Springs first opened in 1896 for city folk and out of state visitors who wanted a genuine taste of the Sonoran Desert in a very remote setting. It was a high end resort and the owners had planted rows of Mexican palm trees all around it.

car in wash on Castle Hot Springs Road-min

Castle Hot Springs Road was under water in places, but it wasn’t too deep.

When we visited all those years ago the resort had been closed for quite some time. The palm trees were still tall and healthy and standing in rows, but the buildings were a little worse for wear. It seemed such a shame that a beautiful property like that would be left to disintegrate in the hot Arizona sun.

Well, much to our surprise, someone has bought it and is doing an unbelievable renovation. The whole thing is now enclosed behind a solid rock wall and an elegant front gate.

Castle Hot Springs entrance gate-min

Castle Hot Springs has been purchased and is in the last stages of an enormous renovation.

Castle Hot Springs entrance gate since 1896 Arizona-min

Castle Hot Springs was first opened in 1896

There is a lush green lawn and we could see the main lodge in the distance. It was a little funny to be blocked from accessing the building, because we had wandered all over the property before and remembered that yellow building well.

Castle Hot Springs Resort Arizona-min

Lush green lawns and elegant buildings.

The palm trees look fantastic and there is a sparkling swimming pool surrounded by lounge chairs and colorful umbrellas. Amazing!

Palm trees Castle Hot Springs Resort Arizona-min

The rows of palm trees were as beautiful as ever.

Palm trees and swimming pool Castle Hot Springs Resort Arizona-min

There’s a gorgeous pool back there.

A guard at the gate told us the property was purchased by the owner of Sun State Equipment, a construction equipment rental company. Just the right folks to buy a property that needed an overhaul!

And the price per night to stay here… Well… For the budget conscious there are rooms in the less fancy dwellings for $800 a night. If you aren’t so concerned about expenses, the upscale rooms go for $1,200 a night.

Main Lodge Castle Hot Springs Resort Arizona-min

Rooms are $800 to $1,200 a night, meals, guided hikes and other activities included.

The old barn is being turned into a restaurant. Construction on that hasn’t really started, but when it opens it will be open to the public. So, if you have a RZR (yes!) or if you don’t mind a long bumpy ride on a dirt road, you’ll be able to get a taste of the good life in the restaurant!

Of course, some guests come in by helicopter.

We got so busy in our conversation with the guard that we didn’t notice Buddy had already found his own way in. He stood on the other side of the gate staring at us as if to say, “What are you waiting for? Come on in!”

Castle Hot Springs Resort Arizona-min

“Never mind that guard. Let’s check out the resort!”

Unfortunately, without a room reservation we couldn’t get past the gate. So we jumped back in the RZR and continued on.

As we rode along we noticed a huge wash alongside the road. Curious, we just had to get out and explore. There was a trickle of water running in the middle of the wash and we saw some little footprints in the mud.

Desert wash with water in Arizona-min

We traipsed down this wash for a while.

Animal tracks in mud Arizona-min

Footprints from something that is probably very cute!

We loved the patterns the mud made as it flowed over the pebbles. It looked a lot like chocolate covered nuts of some kind!

Mud looks like chocolate-min

Mud…or chocolate covered nuts?

Back at Lake Pleasant we caught a few beautiful sunsets. The sky and water were filled with pastel shades.

Sunset Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min


Sunset Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min


Sunset Lake Pleasant Arizona-min


Sunset Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min


Saguaro cactus at sunset-min


We captured a few sunrises too, and they were worth getting out of bed and going hiking for!

Sunrise Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min

Mark sets up a photo while Buddy looks back at me.

Dawn sunrise Lake Pleasant Regional Park Arizona-min

Definitely worth rising early and hiking in the dark!

Lake Pleasant sunrise Arizona-min

Fire in the sky!

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More info about this area:

We’ve been fortunate to visit some gorgeous resorts, especially in Mexico:

Index of Arizona articles
Index of Mexico articles

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36 thoughts on “Castle Hot Springs and Other AZ Treasures near Lake Pleasant

    • You are welcome, Cheryl! The train does surprisingly well. It does chuck a bit more with the caboose (RZR trailer) attached, and there are logistical head-scratching moments when it comes to attaching and detaching the various segments, but we sure are loving the little RZR adventure buggy, so it’s worth the extra effort!!

  1. Great story and pics, EM & M! Again….

    Glad to see your WORD Press debacle/wrinkles – were ironed out, EM. Am sure it was very frustrating, and aggravating for all!

    Looks like Bette and I will wait until the Castle Hot Springs restaurant is open, so we can peek inside the grounds, as a partially paid customer, instead of peeping through the gates, or gawking from the road – like we have done in the past. But what a marvelous treasure, in the desert, no less…..hope your Readers will check out Castle Hot Springs, cause it’s a special spot, unknown to many people.

    Our dogs cause new adventures, all the time, don’t they? Like Buddy, behind the gate…”come-on folks…what r u waiting for?” While the guard is eye-balling you and Mark; wondering what’s next….

    Well done, Em & M. Looking forward to your next adventure(s)…Bette & Glen Horsmann, in sunny Sun City….

    Looking forward to your upcoming article about your train, now known to us as the MMB Train. Lot shorter name than the Atkinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe!

    • Thank you so much, Bette & Glen. The tech gremlins almost got me, but I think we’re winning now!

      And thanks for the extra encouragement for our readers who come to AZ to visit Castle Hot Springs. I agree about going to the restaurant when it opens. I’m sure it will be an incredible place for a meal and a great way to experience that special place. I can only imagine what it was like when people came out by horse and buggy 100+ years ago!

      Love the name for our Train. I hear that train a’comin’…she’ll be comin’ round the mountains when she comes…Choo choo!!

  2. Emilly,
    Looks like Buddy makes friends with everyone, including the burros. They are very beautiful animals. Never paid much attention to them, as most of the time they are overloaded with supply packs. Glad you got your WordPress issues squared away.

    • Buddy is quite a socialite and makes friends easily. This morning he was playing with two German Shepherds and a yellow lab, all bigger than him, and he was just delighted when all three chased him as he sprinted around in figure eights (now he’s napping!). The burros are a hoot, especially when they start braying (which they do quite a lot!). I’m not sure these guys would take to carrying anyone’s supplies, though!

  3. Great water pics as always… Actually the second posting had the LINK attached as I read this am… If one scroll down prior week blog , Coffee Kiosks, it was attached there…

    • It is so great to see that beautifully property coming back to life, Liz. Hopefully restaurant goers will be allowed to stroll the grounds the way they can at all the gorgeous Scottdale resorts.

      Lake Pleasant hit 100% full a few weeks ago and is now over 100%. Other Arizona lakes aren’t yet full, but this one is bursting at the seams!!

  4. One of the photos conjured up memories of “Dancing In The Moonlight”. I need to go revisit that post again! Thanks for another fun and fabulous trip out west, even if there was a short delay in getting there! Oh, the anticipation! 😁

      • Loved it, again. That one will never get old. Once again, eyes closed, a crooked smile forming on my face, I slipped away to passed days. The smile stays, genuine and innocent, as the song plays on in my memories. A warmth fills my soul and, though I fight it, tears start to overcome my eyes.
        In the words of Bob Hope, “Thanks for the memories!”

  5. Glad you got your “classic” editor back and great post with great pix. I’m more of a water fan than a desert fan, so having the two combined here is really something to see and makes me want to go there. It’ll go on the list of “someday” and since even the “budget” rooms at the Castle Hot Springs are beyond our budget, it’ll be fun to consider checking out the restaurant someday. Thanks, as always, for your enjoyable posts.

    • We’re with you, Arden. How we wish we could be that kind of “budget” traveler!!

      The Sonoran Desert is lush in a way that other deserts aren’t, and it is rich with unusual plants and animals. The way it smells after a heavy rain is intoxicating, so pungent and fresh (it’s the creosote bushes that give the air that smell). The Arizona lakes are plentiful and lovely. If you can believe it, at one time there were more boats per capita registered in Arizona than in any other state! I hope you have a chance to come this way!!

  6. Definitely worth waiting for ! Loved your “appreciation” for the multi-faceted Sonoran Desert.And the “Buddy and the burros race” was a Keystone Cops comedy – Buddy sure looked like he was loving it.

    • We both just love the Arizona desert landscapes — and Buddy does too. I think his favorite thing is running, and he is in heaven when he can get someone to chase him so he can show them how fast he is!

  7. That last photo is so gorgeous! (So many nice photos.) And Buddy being chased by the burro — ha ha ha.
    Thanks for sharing your journey!

  8. Oh My, I’m not sure I can chose a favorite photo from this fabulous collection. Maybe the ‘Wild Burros’ and the Moon balanced perfectly on the cactus…. And I’m definitely adding this sweet little lake to my “must camp at” sites. All are so beautiful – Thank you !

    • Thank you, Jo! Lake pleasant is special and has lots of different kinds of camping options both in the regional park and in a private campground complex that has a swimming pool and many other amenities including dry camping on a bluff overlooking the lake at Pleasant Harbor. Enjoy!

  9. Loved the article….again! The picture of the burro chasing Buddy is priceless and hilarious! What a neat place. Can’t wait for that restaurant to open. I can only imagine the prices but it might be worth it to get a peek of the inside!

    Thanks again!

    • It was very funny watching Buddy barreling towards us with the burro in hot pursuit, and we heard quite a bit of snorting and braying as the burros walked away. It’s a very neat place, but I’m not sure if eating at the restaurant will gain access to the rest of the resort. The barn that will become the restaurant is across the road from the entrance gate. But I’m sure the restaurant prices will be sky high, so I’d hope that for the high price of a meal you could at least stroll the grounds after driving so far down a dirt road!!

  10. Wonderful pictures and stories!! Love the rainbow, cactus, beautiful sky and palm trees and of course Buddy and his burro friends!! Thank you for sharing and all of the effort (like getting up extra early for those sunrise shots!!) It is much appreciated from cold, snowy NE Ohio 🙂

    • Thank YOU Deborah for your appreciation and enthusiasm. Arizona’s deserts are very beautiful and we love taking pics of all we see. We’ve had a slew of beautiful warm days in sunny AZ lately, and with any luck some of that will make its way to NE Ohio soon!!


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