Friday, June 2, 2023


Duck pond mistaken for hot spring; hilarity ensues

Gail Marsh recently wrote an article on Midwest hot springs and it brought to mind our own rather dubious, sketchy hot springs adventure in Tonopah, Arizona.

I love quirky RV spots and had never actually been in a hot spring before, so after reading a number of reviews for El Dorado Hot Springs that ranged from “kitschy” to “rustic,” we decided to try it. After all, we had our choice of a private hot spring or the not-so-modest public nude one. I chose private. That they rented by the hour should have rung at least a few warning bells, but it didn’t. The Hot Spring sign should have been an additional warning.

Just pulling in with our 34-foot Class A towing a car required a feat of supreme driving skills, not to mention having to turn 180 degrees in a small open courtyard to get to the “hook ups.” The hook ups consisted of a garden hose and what looked like an extension cord at that time.

It did indeed live up to both the “kitschy” and “rustic” descriptors. The claw foot bathtub literally had feet! The signs for the various private ponds had unique signage and the lantern art did earn the term “rustic.” So did the outside cold water showers, which were hooked up to yet another garden hose.

The entrance to our very own hot spring was intriguing and kind of fun. Because my husband had wanted to drive right out after we got there, I knew I was going to need to be upbeat and cheerful! We had one hour in the “Duck Pond.”

When I saw that our private hot spring did mostly resemble a duck pond, I had to be brave, so I marched right in. My feet sunk down in inches of mud and fish started swimming around my legs in a fury. Ugh. There was nothing warm or soothing about it. At all.

Then, much to my chagrin, I looked over and noticed the real hot spring pool nearby. I was standing in the fish/duck pond!! My husband was laughing heartily as he walked into the real pool.

After skipping their shower and using our own, we took a walk through the grounds and checked out several of the other private hot springs. (We skipped the mandatory nude one though.) Some had fun entrances and others had amazing views. It seemed a grand idea that needed a lot of TLC. It kind of reminded me of my long-past hippie era…

That evening, we settled down but had a hard time sleeping with traffic coming in and out. Nosey me cracked the curtain and watched car after car come in, go to the “office” and leave a few minutes later. I think there was more than skinny dipping in the hot springs going on…

Eventually was awakened by our car alarm going off. This was actually the first time we had ever set it. My husband sleepily mumbled for me to go check it out and turn it off. Idiot that I am, I went to the car and soon heard someone running away and tripping over metal garbage cans. Yikes.

In all fairness, I still read wonderful reviews of the place, and a number of folks love it. We just might not be the right demographic. When I wasn’t looking we may have become old fuddy-duddies! We did love the peacocks strolling the grounds, and at least I liked the adventure.

Upon returning to my 96-year-old dad’s house and repeating the story, he said they were rumored to be a place of ill repute. That, of course, begs the question of… How did he know?


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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1 month ago

I hope the Ducks didn’t complain to the management about you…. (;+) ……Quack….

Dave Jeffries
1 month ago

El Dorado H.S. is a favorite stop for us whenever traveling to/ Phoenix-Quartzsite. Not being overly shy we use the Desert Pete (nude) area as there are several warm-hot soaking areas, the shower is warm water, and there is even a cold water tub if one likes to do the Finnish Hot-Cold-Hot routine. Also plenty of lounge chairs to soak up any sun that’s available. Anybody else in there is also nude so all are equal. Besides it’s less expensive.

Bill Byerly
1 month ago

Thank you for the much needed laughs this morning.
Thoroughly enjoyed you story..

Marie Beschen
1 month ago

LOL, this brought back laughable memories of a night we spent in Ashland OR at Wellsprings RV Park (& Hotsprings)!! Had we not been hot, tired and in great need of a respite, I think my husband would have turned right around and left before we even parked that night. I did, however enjoy the soak in their hotsprings (with a suit), but what a place/experience! If you are ever in the area, take a peek! Like you shared, essence of hippie days…;-)

Martyn Price
1 month ago

When does the movie come out? Were you able to get Chevy Chase for the role of your husband?

Last edited 1 month ago by Martyn Price
1 month ago

Great story! Thanks for sharing

Corrina T.
1 month ago

Loved this!!! Thank you! Made me laugh out loud!

Betty B
1 month ago

This kind of story is why I go camping. It may not have been the sleekest, most modern of campgrounds but it may have been one of the most entertaining.

Seann Fox
1 month ago

Well dang no pictures of the clothing optional area. ROTFLOL

1 month ago

Absolutely loved this story. These are the best kinds of memories and subsequent stories that almost every RVer has. A story normally shared around the campfire and I’m so glad you shared it with all of us that could not be at your fire pit.

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