Sheep Bridge Hot Spring is a 0.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Black Canyon City, AZ that features hot springs and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips and is accessible from September until May.
I made the drive out to the Sheep Bridge Hot Spring today. As others have stated, the road is long and very bumpy but I made it in my Outback just fine. I wouldn't take a vehicle down this road that isn't up for some abuse. It is similar to the Fossil Creek road but quite a bit longer. There has been some recent road maintenance on the last 11 mile section going down into the river. Even with the maintenance, the last 11 miles are extremely rough and require slow going but 4x4 isn't necessary. I drove in from I-17 and out through Seven Springs and both ways are incredibly scenic. The spring and tub are small but very unique and very neat. Someone spent some good time and effort creating the rock tub and it was a great experience to soak under the bamboo. I spent two hours in the tub and only heard one vehicle and no one bothered me. If you don't know about the spring you could come down to the bridge and not even know the tub is there. I can see this spot being very busy during certain times of the year and on weekends but today it was a perfect place of solitude and relaxation. This kind of spot is why I love living in AZ.
My family and I have been going to the Sheep Herders Hot Spring for nearly 35 years. It has had many changes throughout the years, and we personally have helped build many a "Tubs" in the past. It could definitely use some TLC and a larger tub. In the past we used to have 250gal water troughs that cascaded into each other, but that was before the Verde took away the banks.
I would HIGHLY suggest bringing a good rope for a swing from off the Bridge. It's real easy to attach off the Suspension Bridge and a lot of fun.
Enjoy, but PLEASE clean up your trash.
Here is a link to my movie I made while there https://youtu.be/t3c7kXIbsP8
thanks to Curtis Wagners awesome directions down below We went in via Camp Verde and left towards I-17. My advice to anyone is take the Camp Verde directions and even stop in the rangers station at the Bartlet lake turn off for better maps and advice from the nice ranger who works there. The first 21 miles were absolutely beautiful and smooth driving with speeds avg from 20-40 mph. It got a little rougher the next 13 or so miles due to the heavy rain fall the day before 10-25 mph. It was the last 11 miles that reduced our speeds to 2-10 mph to avoid tire puncture due to the amount of river rock on the road. We even locked the medium clearance Subaru with low profile street tire into 4 wheel drive to pass through some of the deeper puddles. Any full size 2 wheel drive truck should be fine until you get below the bridge in the sandy area's. The trip is worth it if you like non crowded hiking camping and fishing. Water is deep enough for kayaks and is full of bass which can be seen from the bridge. There are rapids coming in and then about 400 yards away rapids going out. If you plan to camp bring firewood or an axe/chainsaw to cut up some of the many dead trees. Please pack your trash out and clean up what others left behind. It was not to bad. there are tons of places to camp on the sandy beaches down below the bridge and down river. Bring quads and you can explore for miles a long the river without seeing another human. Drive slow the last stretch because it will knock your fillings loose
It was a long and bumpy ride in from seven springs campground (highly suggest high clearance vehicles -many people had trucks and razors). Although the ride was slow, it was beautiful. As soon as you reach the parking in front of the bridge, we all had a huge relief, YES! It was worth the drive. We went at the end of March 2015, the river was full of life, there was people jumping off the bridge having a blast.
I had heard of the hot springs being close to the bridge, just north on the West Bank. We asked some people that go there often and they kept insisting we were talking about the springs 30 miles away.
The spring (just one, it's a small tub of concreat, fits only 2) is fun to find. You can enter at the top right next to the bridge and walk down, or you can go back to the parking area, walk down the path to the river, head to your right and you will eventually see the tunnel of cat tails leading the way. I unfortunately was dehydrated so couldn't enjoy the full experience, but once we found it I felt like my mission was complete. I would definitely go back again, also, there are many camping spots there and along the way.
After seeing the people who frequent the Sheep Bridge area (which is littered with broken glass and shell casings) I have decided not to get into the "hot" springs.
There are two primary routes to Sheep Bridge from the Phoenix side. The first is to travel up the I-17 to Bloody Basin Rd. You then follow Bloody Basin Rd. until it turns into 269 and then follow 269 to the end. The distance from the I-17 to Sheep Bridge is just under 40 miles and it all dirt road. Parts of the dirt road are fairly rough but passable in a two- wheel drive vehicle with good clearance (truck, SUV ). An alternative is to travel up Cave Creek Rd past Seven Springs. Then you continue up the 24 until you get to the 269. From this junction it is 11 more miles on the 269 to Sheep Bridge. The 24 is graded nicely and is easy to travel. The last 11 miles on the 269 is a bit rougher and needs higher clearance.
From the I-17 and Carefree highway, both routes took about 3 hours total. The last 11 miles taking about an hour of that.
When you get to Sheep Bridge, it is 500+ feet long and spans the Verde River. There are multiple activities to enjoy. Swimming in the Verde River, fishing, a hot (warm) spring just to the north of the bridge (have to pass back behind the back of the reeds and the hill), camping and hiking. Even saw kayaks coming down the river. The three hiking trails that can be access here are Verde River Trail #11, Dutchman Grave Trail #22, and Willow Spring Trail #223. While looping hikes are possible, they would be very lengthy so plan carefully.
This year we have had record rain over the last month. Both drives were absolutely beautiful.
This is a great warmer hot spring. You can only fit 2, maybe 3 people in. It's a little tough to find. But after hiking the Verde River trail, your senses will take over and get you to the water for some R&R.
And BTW, this is NOT even close to Black Canyon City, unless you consider a 2 hour drive on a dirt road "close".