|Hot Well Dunes
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Hot Well Dunes, Arizona, Report.
From Safford, Arizona, go 7 mi. east on Rt 70. Turn right on gravel Haekel R; bearing left at the "Y" at 1.1 miles. Go 25 miles to the Hot Well Dunes sign. Turn left and go to the well.
Sadly, as of early 1998, some folks tell us that daytime nuding is no longer possible at Hot Well and that citations have been issued. Yet, others tell us they go nude there. It could be one way sometimes and the other way at other times. If you go, use caution.
FIVE AND ONE-HALF MOONS SOME OF THE TIME; ZERO moons, a lemon, one olive pit and one lump of coal at some other times.
At an elevation of 3,100 feet, Hot Well Dunes is another Hotel California Hot Spring--it can be heaven or it can be hell, depending. Usually, it's the former during the week and the latter on weekends/vacations, but it can be great weekend evenings, sometimes. It can also change drastically minute by minute; there's just no telling. Why? Because Hot Well Dunes (see also 283SHEEP) is CLASSIC example of bureaucratic obtuseness and the finely honed adroitness and alacrity at wasting taxpayers' $ to create a nightmare that the government is known for. Had he known about it, Senator William Proxmire's Golden Fleece Award would surely have been conferred on Hot Well Dunes. In it's wisdom, the normally (or at least sometimes) pragmatic Bureau of Land Management essentially gave a library and a boiler factory the same piece of land to share, right next to each other. At a quiet place of contemplative nurturing--the hot spring--they put a no holds barred, free-for-all race track for off road vehicles, aka ORV's. As a no extra cost fringe benefit, they also created a gawker heaven and an unending thorn in the side of those wanting peace, quiet, and clothes freedom, not to mention a place to be offended for ORV operators who may think the natural human form isn't healthy. Is that efficient or what?
Even though Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area is 2,000 acres in size, the government decided that the only place the noisy ORV'scould park (and, therefore congregate) was right next to the soaking pools, not quite as close as these two lines: ||, but almost. Can one believe they were arrogant enough to ram that down our throats, despite the fact the well had been flowing for fifty years before ORV's came to be? It's hard to believe, but they were; they actually expect us to believe there was no other possible location for ORV's on that 2,000 acres. Hard to believe. Want more? The 2,000 acres Hot Well tract is surrounded by more than THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY-ONE THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED AND EIGHTY (391,680) acres of BLM owned land! But, of course, there was no room for the ORV gathering spot on that many acres either. Stop the world! We want to get off! The gohds must be crazy, but yes, complete with costly and useless masonry and stone monuments to hold up a useless (and very dangerous) thick steel cable, the area where both groups are expected to peacefully coexist is designated in the middle of the desert, 17 miles from the nearest paved road, 17 miles into BLM owned land, land upon which the ORV area could have been located ANYwhere but at the hot well. Must be a coincidence. Right.
This smarts all the worse because highly paid paper shufflers in the Safford BLM office lied to us in writing in the early '90's when we (and MANY others) wrote many letters suggesting easy, virtually cost free ways to avoid such craziness and warning of the undesirable results if sensible measures weren't taken in advance. It was and continues to be an obviously intentional problem we taxpayers paid the government to create for those seeking quiet clothes freedom, and for those with what we consider to be a legitimate interest in desert ORV riding. But PLEASE, Uncle Sam BLM, the two simply ARE NOT compatible! Only in America. With regularity, the costly stone monuments are knocked over, clothes free people are gawked at, and litter is scattered about by clotheds, not to mention many other problems, chief among them being excessive alcohol consumption while operating an ORV racing through the dunes. To call the weekend noise a din is to considerably understate it. We don't know the frequency of injuries out there, 20 miles or more from the nearest ambulance, but we saw a collision between two ORV's operated by young beer drinkers which didn't result in injuries serious enough to require attention, and that one was in broad daylight in a flat, open area. The danger must be considerably higher out between the dunes, many of which are (or were)covered with delicate plant life.
Formerly called Bowie Hot Well, the 105 degree water flows non-stop at 250 gpm from a 16" bore that was drilled in the late 20's, searching for oil. Some of the ancient equipment can still be seen laying in the sand. Since then, more than 8,541,000,000 gallons of water have flowed onto the desert.
We met some really Neat, interesting people at Hot Well and will surely go back. Free 14 day nude camping. Vault toilets. One hot tub (a cattle watering trough) was stolen; two nice little pools have taken its place. Njoy and respect this special place, but be prepared to stand back and watch or leave if it becomes too hectic. When Hot Well Dunes is good, it's really good. It can be the best of The Best of THE BEST! (But when it's bad, ....) To the North and East are several warm wells; all but one is artesian. Were things to become really bad on a weekend, we'd go to one of those wells for peace and quiet. They can be found easily using a USGS topo map or DeLorme's. One of them is called the Rabbit Farm where there are active eagle nests. It was quite a thrill to see those majestic birds. All the other wells would provide perfect private camping spots for nude relaxation and are easy to reach with conventional vehicles.
In Hot Water,
Camilla & Bill
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