Our discovery at Castle Hot Springs

I recently learned that the historic Castle Hot Springs Resort had been purchased and permits were underway for renovation. A Phoenix investment group called CHS3 Holdings LLC bought the property at an auction for $1.95 million in February 2014…the opening bid was $500,000. The investors of CHS3 Holdings LLC are actually Mike Watts and brothers Chris & Howard Nute. Chris & Howard Nute are the owners of Underground Safety Equipment. And for those of you who have no idea what Castle Hot Springs is, it opened in 1896 in a remote area of Morristown, AZ. It’s a 210-acre resort near Lake Pleasant which once attracted prominent U.S. families, including the Roosevelts, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies, the Wrigleys, and the Astors. Long before he became president, John F. Kennedy spent time at Castle Hot Springs recovering from injuries he sustained in World War II. It boasts the kind of rugged beauty that can’t be found at urban resorts.

According to www.ArizonaHighways.com, it’s an oasis — a canola-yellow mansion in the mountains, surrounded by natural hot springs, fruit trees and hiking trails. But it sits at the end of a rough, rocky road that Arizona’s official historian calls “not really passable, and not even jackass-able” after heavy rainfall. It endured fires and floods after it opened, and after a 1976 blaze, it closed to the public. For the next 40 years it sat empty, visited only by a caretaker and potential investors whose grand plans for the property fizzled. The new owners hope their visions for a spa-resort retreat will put it back on the map.

Although I’ve lived in Arizona for over 22 years, I have never actually taken the journey to the resort. Anxious to see the progress of the renovations, I loaded up my 11 year-old Golden Retriever, Murphy, into my dependable Acura MDX and off we went. Here’s Murphy:

Murphy & I actually really enjoyed the drive, although there were some parts of the road that were quite primitive. It is definitely not a trip you want to take after a rainy day, because at least 3 miles of the dirt road are in a river bed. From my house in NW Peoria, it took about an hour to get there, but it was well worth the drive. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the renovations were well underway. A couple of Cemex trucks were pouring concrete and I believe a new caretaker house was being constructed, amongst other projects that were taking place. I wasn’t able to get past the gates to get into the resort, but here are the photos I took:

On my way home, I saw some beautiful views of Lake Pleasant that I don’t usually see. I’m an enthusiastic boat owner and spend many days with family & friends on Lake Pleasant, enjoying the refreshing water and enjoying the beauty of the topography. I typically see the lake from the south side, where the dam is. So seeing it from the north side for a change really helped me appreciate its breathtaking scenery and its vast size. Here are the photos:

Castle Hot Springs Resort’s biggest challenge is going to be how to get there. It’s definitely in the middle of the rustic Arizona desert. But I’m excited to watch it’s growth and development. Murphy & I will definitely take some more journeys back to see it progress. Tucked away under the Bradshaw Mountains, the scenery is absolutely gorgeous!

For more information about the resort, take a look at the Arizona Highways article I mentioned. Here’s the link Arizona Highways . I hope someday I’ll be able to take a staycation there and soak in the hot springs. That would be amazing!