Come to the Desert for Hot Springs, Floating Massages, and Sound Baths

Plus astrological journeys and dream specialists, man.

For centuries, the Sonoran Desert has been considered a place to get your spiritual healing on. This desert is bigger than the entire state of Oregon at more than 100,000 square miles. In fact, the Sonoran spans almost the entire southern half of Arizona from Scottsdale and Sedona right down to Mexico and into parts of southern California.

Driving through the windswept sands and looming mountain ranges peppered in a sea of towering saguaro cacti, it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like for the ancestral Sonoran desert people living here 6,000 years ago. Let’s put it this way: if life gave them cactus, they made one hell of a prickly pear margarita.

Indigenous tribes here not only flourished, they found hot springs bubbling just beneath the earth’s surface, rich in minerals, and a bounty of medicinal herbs. And those same natural resources are why today you’ll find a wellspring of resorts and wellness-centric retreats cropped up all across the desert in recent years.

While there’s no shortage of beautiful places to visit all across the Grand Canyon state, from soaking in geothermal water in the cradle of the Bradshaw Mountains to moonlight meditation and spirit drumming ceremonies, wellness here is as vast and wide as the Sonoran Desert itself. Here are the best wellness retreats in Arizona.

Castle Hot Springs
Welcome to the wellness vortex. | Castle Hot Springs

Soak in geothermal water and scale through the sky

Castle Hot Springs, Morristown

About 50-miles north of Phoenix, in the shadow of the Bradshaw mountain range, Castle Hot Springs is centered around a series of natural pools and hot springsforgedinto the landover thousands of years.

For centuries, the springs have served as a spiritual stomping ground for native Arizonan tribes like the Hopi, Zuni, and O’Odham. They’ve long come here to experience the curing properties found in the mineral-rich water, believed to heal general aches and pains and improve mobility and skin health.

The steamy water has also become a popular sojourn for wellness-seekers over the years. Three of the hot spring pools at the center of the resort pump out 200,000 gallons of water a day and are used to heat the main resort pool as well as fill the private soaking tubs and on-site farm.

Today, this all-inclusive desert oasis offers a mix of babbling creek-side cabins, cottages and bungalows and a variety of activities that infuse a bit of adventure into the wellness mix. The first adventure course of its kind in Arizona, Via Ferrata opened in 2019 and comprises of a series of rungs and cables, along with a 200-foot long aerial walkway with sweeping views over the Sonoran Desert. The course promises a physical and emotional experience that will make a dip in those healing hot springs feel like a miracle afterwards.

Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
So then I realized I could fly, but I was also naked… | Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa

Consult a dream specialist or clairvoyant

Miraval Arizona, Tucson

If you’re looking to get your life in balance, set on 400-acres in the cradle of the Santa Catalina Mountains a touch outside of Tucson, Miraval Arizona has a range of wellness experiences geared specifically towards healing your spirit and soul. If it sounds like a big ask, well it definitely is, but if anyone knows what they’re doing, it’s these guys. Home to a variety of master healers, specialists, and practitioners, Miraval even has a dedicated dream specialist, astrologer, and clairvoyant on their roster.

Among just a few of their wellness offerings, Shuniya Sound Ceremony uses Tibetan singing bowls, gong baths, and tuning forks combined with Kundalini yoga, traditional Thai massage, and Shiatsu in a full-body healing session with the hotel’s Master Healer. Soul guidance journeys, spiritual drumming, chakra balancing classes, flower essence ceremonies, and psychic spirit guides through the Sonoran Desert are also on tap here (all for an additional fee).

Civana Wellness Resort and Spa
Walking is also just like slow running. | Civana Wellness Resort and Spa

Take a sound bath or go on a meditative desert run

Civana Wellness Resort & Spa, Carefree

Set in the oh-so-appropriately named Sonoran Desert town of Carefree, Arizona, Civana Wellness Resort & Spa offers more than 70-wellness experiences, including sunrise soul flow and sound bath therapy. The definition of wellness here definitely extends from mind to body, since you can also participate in hikes, mountain biking, and paddleboard excursions. They even offer archery. If mindfully running on single-track trails past giant saguaro cacti—sometimes up to eight miles a day—sounds like your jam, the resort’s four-day, three-night Sonoran Desert Trail Running Retreat might be the perfect antidote.

Canyon Ranch
Raise your hand if you wish that was you right now. | Canyon Ranch

Bliss out and float like a baby

Canyon Ranch Tucson, Tucson

Pioneers of ‘the well way of life,’ Canyon Ranch Tucson has served as a Sonoran Desert institution since 1979. The flagship property has more than 150 “transformative” wellness offerings including a brand new Blissful Floating Massage.

Designed to help guests let their stress and tension float away, the experience takes place in the spa’s warm-water pool and includes a gentle massage, energy balancing, and range-of-motion therapy, all while you’re experiencing a deep and dreamlike meditative state. Don’t worry, day passes to experience the spa, pools, and fitness classes are available too.

JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa
Now that’s my kind of sunrise ritual. | JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa

Lounge on a lazy river or do a sunrise ritual

JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa, Tucson

For a healthy dose of wellness that that whole family can get down with, JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa starts each day on the hotel’s Salud Terrace with a sunrise ritual called Mitakuye Oyasin. Translated from the Lakota language to mean ‘we are all related,’ this traditional Native American ceremony is a modern-day mindfulness exercise unique to the Sonoran Desert that dates back thousands of years.

It’s dealer’s choice after that, from spending some much needed me time getting a passionflower CBD massage at Hashani Spa or lazing the afternoon away at the Spa Canyon Lazy River. Make sure to make it back on the Salud Terrace at sunset for a full-circle complimentary tequila toast moment to round it all out. It’s been a tough day, you deserve it.

Adero Scottsdale
Just. So. Pretty. | Adero Scottsdale

Experience star suites, star dudes, and a stargazer facial

ADERO Scottsdale, Scottsdale

Scottsdale has long been hailed as one of the country’s preeminent wellness destinations. Perched 2,500 feet above the Sonoran Desert, ADERO Scottsdale has been designated as a Dark Sky Zone and is a great place to kick back and partake in the majesty of stargazing.

For an experience that’s truly out of this world, ADERO offers guests a chance to join the Star Dudes in some bonafide star party fun. The ‘dudes’ bring their telescopes onsite and guide guests on an astrological journey across the night sky.

Set on the southernmost end of the resort, the hotel’s Signature Dark Sky Corner Suite and Celestial Suites includes a separate living area that extends into a wraparound balcony to take in the dramatic views in every direction.

Over at The Spa at ADERO, you can get a treatment like the Amethyst-infused massage or opt for the Spirit Stone Therapy and Turquoise Rain Scrub using a native blue corn, aloe, and turquoise infused body polish. Don’t miss the Stargazer Illuminating Facial which promises to “leave your skin as radiant as a moonlit night.” Sold.

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa
Somebody say spa day? | Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa

Hit the Himalayan salt room and seek out sound therapy

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale

With ten-swimming pools and a three-story waterslide, as well as award-winning Spa Avania, the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch is a 27-acre resort meets water and wellness playground. Start your day detoxing in the Himalayan Salt Room before moving on to the Spa Wave program that combines gentle sound waves with a vibrational massage to slow down the mental state while balancing the body’s chakras.

If you’re looking to be one with mother earth, The Babor Earth Ritual will leave your body polished with naturally fortified poppy seeds before being cocooned in mood elevating firming cream and finished with a lymphatic facial to sweet, silky skin perfection.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Michelle Gross is a travel, food, and lifestyle reporter. She loves a good wellness moment, especially if it involves an onsen in Japan or a Mezcal margarita.