The history of the hard-to-access oasis an hour’s drive north of Phoenix, US, has involved a quail-hunting, self-made mogul, Native Americans, New Age crystal worshippers, scheming hoteliers and a gun-toting, toothless caretaker who had an enormous pet pig and strategically placed dead rattlesnakes to scare off people.
And those are just the recent chapters.
Save for the hunter, all were after its namesake natural resource. Rich in minerals and free of sulpher’s rotten-egg smell, the springs’ water cascades and trickles down mossy rocks at the rate of about 757083litres per day into two tiered pools ranging from 35ºC to 40.5ºC.
“You’ll feel the energy. Breathe it in,” said Gertrude Smith, the director of Yavapai culture for the Yavapai Apache Nation in Camp Verde, Arizona, who said the springs had been a place of healing for her ancestors, until they were discovered by Anglo settlers after the Civil War.