View of Verde River from the Hot Springs
Once we left the Mogollon Rim Road, we planned on heading for the Verde Hot Springs. They are located in the Fossil Creek Area within the Coconino National Forest.
The forest road we wanted to take had one end near Strawberry, AZ and the other near Camp Verde. As it turns out, the two ends don’t connect. We initially started at the one near Strawberry but had to turn around.
So we took AZ highway 200 through a very hilly, curvy road. It had some great views of the scenery. It had been raining/hailing/snowing off and on. At one point, traffic was stopped. When our side was allowed through, we found that there had been a fatal motorcycle accident. The biker had driven into a rock cliff. The bike was hardly recognizable as a bike. I’ve driven by a lot of traffic accidents, but rarely fatal ones. It was a good reminder that life is precious and driving is not a risk free activity.
To reach the hot springs, there is a very twisty, canted dirt road that is about 1 1/2 cars wide with rocky cliffs on one side and a significant drop on the other.
At the start of the road, the road had a few small hills and the road condition was fine, but then we reached an area that was wet. The rain had turned the dirt into a very slick mud and we were on a very long downhill.
After stopping to lock the hubs, it was obvious that our only option was to keep going. There wasn’t any place big and flat enough for us to turn around. Even if we could, we probably couldn’t make it back up the hill. It is a very good thing that Jon is such an experienced driver. The back of our truck weighs a lot more than the front end. This means that unless we kept forward momentum, our rear end would try to come around and pass us. Not a good thing.
Plus with the road being canted, it was also possible to slide sideways off the road unless we kept moving. Jon kept our truck on the road and moving forward at a controlled pace. With Jon’s skilled handling of our Fuso, we made it to the bottom of the hill.
We couldn’t really stop there, so we continued on to the hot springs. The next road was not nearly as steep or as slick. There were some pretty significant ruts in the road from people going too fast when the road was really wet. After going up and down another 7 miles we reached a small parking area containing an abandoned Chrysler minivan.
The campsites cover a variety of spaces from those down by the river and under trees that may require going through really deep puddles or mud. Some are up higher in spots under smaller trees. For us, our height (12′) limited us to some clearer spots out in the open.
By the time we had walked around and found a site and then set up, it was already about 5:00. The hot springs are about a 1.25 mile walk that requires wading through the river. Since we hadn’t been there before, we decided to wait until tomorrow to visit. So we had a couple of drinks and wandered around talking to people.
The first night, we met Mike, a grandfather that was industriously setting up camp for the rest of his family who were arriving later that evening.
There was a younger couple from Flagstaff that were just here for the night. They had already gone to the Springs earlier in the day and were planning to go home tomorrow.
We also talked to a couple of young guys who were here to fish and just let off some steam after a busy week at work.
There were a number of other people, some individuals, some in pairs or small groups that were here to enjoy the Hot Springs. It was an interesting mix of people with lots of different life experiences.
I fixed us dinner and we headed to bed pretty early. It had been a long day.
It rained during the night. We woke up at 12:15 to water dripping on our foreheads.
It turns out that when we drove under some very low tree limbs during our attempts to find a campsite, the tree limbs had hit the brush bar mounted on the top of the camper hard enough to create a leak at the point in which it attached. Jon climbed up on top of the camper and sealed it up enough so that It wouldn’t continue to leak. We dried off the parts inside that we could reach and went back to sleep.