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.
“Our people would go there when they were injured or pregnant.”
After being closed for more than 40 years, the newly restored resort reopened in February for a brief season - because of the desert heat it will close on May 31 and reopen on October 1.
Once recreational vehicles peel off the dirt road for Lake Pleasant Regional Park, ramshackle homesteads are the only signs of civilisation until the resort’s sultan-worthy allée of mature date palms appears like a cartoon mirage. A driveway winds past pale yellow cottages and a chapel to the renovated main lodge and a cluster of new, contemporary bungalows.
The springs have a long, fuzzy history of enchanting speculators and generations of wealthy families.