When temperatures begin to creep into the 100s Arizonans flee the streets for air conditioning and a place to keep cool. But tucked away in the states deserts are some unusual spots for locals and visitors to come take a dip and cool off.
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WATER WHEEL FALLS
where: From Phoenix, take Arizona 87 (the Beeline Highway) north to Payson. About 2 miles north of Arizona 260, turn east (right) onto Houston Mesa Road and continue 7.6 miles to a large camping/picnic site on the right. Park here and walk up the creek.
Water Wheel Falls and campground is located just outside of Payson on the banks of the East Verde River. After a short walk along the river a 40-foot tiered waterfall greets visitors. Also along the creek hike there are a series of swimming holes of all sizes and proportions for hikers to jump in and cool off in. Some of the most popular ones can be found just east of the Water Wheel Campground in a recreation area just off of Forest Road 199. About a quarter-mile from the road are a series of small waterfalls and a stretch of pools at the bottom of a narrow granite gorge.
SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK
admission: $10 per vehicle ($8 after Labor Day)
where: From Phoenix, take Interstate 17 north to Exit 298 (the Sedona exit), then follow Arizona 179 west and north about 15 miles into Sedona. Now take Arizona 89A north about 7 miles to the park.
Slide Rock State Park originally known as the Pendley Homestead is a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona. The park eventually changed its name to Slide Rock State Park due to the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slipper smooth sandstone that has turned into a natural slide. Visitors of all ages can slide down a slippery water chute along the creek or relax in the natural pools located at the bottom of the chute. The swim area is located on national forest land.
admission: $35 per person to enter the Havasupai Reservation, $5 per person environmental-care fee, $17 per person per night camping fee, $145 per night to stay at the lodge (up to four people).
where: From Phoenix, take I-17 north to Flagstaff. Turn west on I-40 and go about 75 miles to Seligman. Take Route 66 about 28 miles northwest to Indian Route 18. Turn right and go about 60 miles to the parking area at Hualapai Hilltop.
Havasu Falls in Supai is one of the most photographed waterfalls on the planet. This amazing waterfall is located in a remote canyon of Arizona. It is a double waterfall along Havasu Creek that has a drop of 120 feet into turquoise water that is as bright and clear as the ocean of the Caribbean. It is about a five-mile hike for visitors to reach the falls but promises to be worth it, visitors will feel if they have left Arizona and are in Hawaii.
admission: $6 for a Tonto Pass to park
Located on the Bartlett Reservoir, Rattlesnake Cove has been claimed as one of the most beautiful places to swim in Arizona. The cove is completely off-limits to motorized watercraft and so visitors can safely swim in the waters without any worries. The cove is surrounded by beautiful desert landscape and provides plenty of areas for visitors to picnic and hike around.
ESSENCE OF TRANQUILITY
admission: $5 per person over the age of 6, for up to 1 hour and $10 per person for the day.
Located just south of Safford at the base of Mount Graham are the Essence of Tranquility hot artesian mineral springs. The privately owned facility offers six different soaking tubs, five private in which clothing is optional with doors closed and one open communal clothing required pool. The spring tub temperatures range from 98 to 105 degrees.