Cool It

For anyone under 18, finding liquid liberation from the scorching summertime heat ain't that hard a feat, as P-Town provides many an oasis — from wacky water parks to crowded community pools to funky interactive fountains — geared toward drenching massive mobs of moppets.

As for grownups? Not so much.

So, given the record-high temps expected to roast the Valley from June until September (okay . . . October), you're definitely gonna need to get wet to survive another summer smackdown in Sand Land. But before you brave the lines at Big Surf or blast yourself with the garden hose, we've got some suggestions on where overheated adults can chill out and get stylishly soaked, wet their whistles, or have some wild water fun.

For example, you can do all three while spending an afternoon meandering down the Salt River in an oversized inner tube along with hundreds of other desert rats and party animals, who usually bring along their beer-filled ice chests (cans only; glass containers are verboten) for a gigantic floating fiesta. Salt River Tubing & Recreation charges $14 per person for the all-day use of the tube, and offers daily trips running from two to five hours, depending on where along the river you depart.

Prefer soaking in seclusion (but hate cramming into your bucket-sized bathtub)? Head for the southwestern kitsch of El Dorado Hot Springs in Tonopah and rest your weary bones in one of the six quaint mineral-water pools fueled by a subterranean aquifer. Semi-private tubs are available for $7.50 an hour per person, or if you wanna drop trou, private baths can be rented for $10 an hour per person.

Another site for skinny-dipping fun is found 30 minutes north of Phoenix at Shangri La Ranch, with nudists of all ages (and body types) letting it all hang out at this private clothing-optional resort, which features two swimming pools, a sauna, and Jacuzzi. Inappropriate activities aren't tolerated, however, so be on your best in-the-buff behavior. A one-time complimentary visit is available, with six-month and yearly memberships running $250 and $400 (respectively), or $325 and $600 for couples.

And while you're heading up Interstate 17, consider visiting Fossil Springs Canyon, a gorgeously lush swatch of riparian forest about 150 miles northwest of the Valley near the Verde River. Hepcats and hippie-types brave bumpy forest roads to chill out in the hot springs and bubbling creeks, as well as partaking in supersized shindigs going on nearby campgrounds, occasionally featuring performances by local reggae bands and DJs.

Heat-beaters who wanna stay closer to home can find relief at any of the natural and man-made ponds and basins scattered around the Valley, such as gliding across Tempe Town Lake. Rio Lago Cruise rents pedal boats for $12 an hour, one- or two-person kayaks for $10 or $18 an hour, and motorboats for $42-$67 an hour. Locales like Lake Pleasant also provide opportunities for swimming, fishing, and even scuba diving (See Steve Jansen's piece on page TK for more info).

The Arizona Biltmore presents a more sophisticated sanctuary at its Cabana Club, a swim-up bar in the Paradise Pool. Paid guests (sorry, deadbeats) can down such delicious drinks as the $9.25 Catalina coladas and $8 daiquiris or noshings like teriyaki-grilled shrimp and peach salad for $14. It may be a little pricey to kick it resort-style, but if you got a couple C-notes lying around, the Biltmore has a few discount summer packages available, starting at $169 a night (which includes a $50 food and beverage credit).

Big-spenders with some serious scrilla can also get sopped in style at Phase 54, as this Tempe nightclub and recording studio boasts a marble-encased Jacuzzi inside its VIP lounge for those willing to pony up for bottle service, which starts at $100 for champagne or wine, while local DJs spin Top 40 and dance music most nights of the week.

Wanna be cool without getting wet? Visit the Liquid Room at swanky Scottsdale nightspot e4, with dope décor infused with blue and dominated by a 20-foot-tall stainless steel cascading waterfall, towering color-changing columns filled with percolating bubbles, and flowing water curtains on every wall. The cover charge varies per night, so call for more information.

People-watching is also the favored pastime at the Icehouse Tavern, located rinkside at the Arcadia Ice Arena, where barflies at the chilly pub can peep all the ice-skating action through large windows. And if you feel like re-enacting some scenes from Blades of Glory after a few beers, admission and skate rental is $8 per person.

Things get pretty wet and wild at Scottsdale's Dirty Dogg Saloon, where stacked señoritas drench themselves for the delight of the crowd gathered for the weekly wet T-shirt contests every Wednesday night, with prizes awarded to the most buxom babes, based on performance and audience applause.

Even more bizarre bar-type fun can be had during weekly goldfish-racing events held every Tuesday starting at 10 p.m. at Giligin’s Sand Bar & Scrimp Hut in Scottsdale, where patrons use squirt guns to encourage the speeding sea creatures along a water course, with the winners getting such prizes as bar tabs or gift bags loaded with candy. Monkey Pants Bar & Grill in Tempe holds a similar event hosted by bartender Kristalicious every Thursday starting at 10 p.m. with such prizes as gift certificates. And here we thought goldfish were meant only as pets.


Cabana Club at the Paradise Pool
(inside Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa)
2400 E. Missouri Ave.
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

El Dorado Hot Springs
41225 W. Indian School, Tonopah
(Take I-10 west to Exit 94)
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Fossil Springs Canyon
Located 150 miles northeast of the Valley, near Irving-Childs
Take I-17 north to Highway 87 east, and then Forest Road 708

Maricopa County Parks & Lakes

Rio Lago Cruise
80 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe

Salt River Tubing & Recreation
Usery Pass Road and Bush Highway, Mesa
Hours: Daily through Labor Day weekend, 9 a.m.-7 p.m., with the last tube rental at 2 p.m.

Shangri La Ranch
44444 N. Shangri La Rd., New River
(Take I-17 north to Exit 223)
Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-sunset


Arcadia Ice Arena & Icehouse Tavern
3855 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix
Rink hours:
Monday, 9-10:30 a.m., 3:30-5:30 p.m., and 7-9 p.m.; Tuesday, 9-11 a.m., 12:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m., and 7:30-9 p.m.
Wednesday, 12:30-3:45 p.m.;
Thursday, 9-11 a.m., and 12:30-3:30 p.m.
Friday, 12:30 p.m.-4 p.m., and 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, noon-3:15 p.m., and 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Sunday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Tavern hours: Monday-Friday, 1:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Dirty Dogg Saloon
10409 N Scottsdale, Scottsdale
Hours: Monday-Friday, 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

4282 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.

Giligin’s Sand Bar & Scrimp Hut
4251 N. Winfield Scott Plaza, Scottsdale
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.

Monkey Pants Bar & Grill
3223 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-2 a.m.

Phase 54
1700 W. Drake Dr., Tempe
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.