The best $45 you can spend.
By Hope S. Philbrick
As if the drive getting to Ojo Caliente weren’t relaxing enough—from Taos you’ll pass by the Rio Grande Gorge, arguably one of the world’s best vistas, and through Carson National Forest, the sort of place that inspires you to grab an easel and acrylics even if you can’t paint—once you arrive, the place wraps you in calm.
There’s an ahhhh that hangs in the air here. Attendants have a steady nature and soft manner. Folks who journey here waste no time sinking into quiet reflection. The surrounding views of red rocks, green desert plants, and blue skies that become streaked with purple and orange at sunset are ahhhhmazing.
The main attraction is the hot water. The sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years; the belief in the curative powers of these waters began in prehistoric times.
Ojo Caliente is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral water, including lithium, arsenic, iron and soda.
With 11 different pools available, you can while away the hours basking in waters ranging from 80 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Each pool is filled with a different type and combination of the legendary mineral waters that many believe have healing powers. Signs posted near each pool suggest how it might cure what ails you. Step in and test the theory; odds are you’ll at least feel less stressed.
It’s soothing to move from one mineral pool to another, testing whether the lithium spring really does make you feel happier, whether the arsenic pool relieves achy joints, and so on. And you may meet some interesting folks. But to truly tap into your inner peace, book a private pool.
The best $45 you can spend.
Upgrade to a private pool for ultimate relaxation.
At the reserved time, an attendant escorts you to a smaller mineral pool enclosed behind a wooden fence. Once inside, you’ll see that fence offers total privacy on three sides while the back opens to a rock garden facing a red cliff. Prickly cacti lining the opening reinforce the fact that nobody’s getting in here.
The attendant points out a pitcher of ice water, the pool and lounge chairs, the fresh towels, and the crackling kiva fireplace (lit for an additional $10 charge; a great option if the weather is cool and/or skies dark and you thoroughly dig the aroma of burning wood; skip it in summer temps or if you don’t want the air, pool surface and/or your wet skin to grow dotted with ash). The attendant departs and you’re alone with nature for the reserved time. (There’s an intercom in case of emergency.)
Keep your suit on if you prefer or go au natural.
Surrounded by nature, soaking in hot waters, whether alone or sharing the experience with a loved one, 50 minutes in a private pool is the perfect way to tune into your inner harmony.
@21plusTravel Tip: If quiet time in this private space doesn’t spark your mojo, there’s something wrong with you and/or your relationship.
Massage & More
A soak can float your cares away, but follow up with a spa treatment to reach deeper states of mind and body relaxation.
The spa menu offers diverse services that range from soothing to rejuvenating.
The “Earth Keeper’s Hot Stone Massage” ($109 for 50 minutes) incorporates oiled stones gathered from the nearby Rio Grande River into massage strokes tailored to your preferred pressure. The goal is to soothe muscles, balance energy and relieve tension and skilled therapists’ hands work wonders. Large stones, warmed by Ojo mineral waters, are placed at strategic points of the body to help ground, calm and relax. Aromas from the natural oils and lotions pleasantly evoke the locale.
No one is asking you to survive on water alone. Ojo Caliente’s Artesian Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Its bustling energy is a stark contrast to the vibe outdoors, but one bite or sip of any menu temptation confirms that there’s good reason to get excited here. Executive Chef Paul Novak’s menu features seasonal Southwestern favorites alongside a variety of international fare.
In 2015, a farm-to-table initiate was launched and now seasonal menu items incorporate a variety of root vegetables, leafy greens, herbs, and edible flowers that have been grown using organic and sustainable practices on Ojo’s two-acre farm where farming practices honor traditions of Native Americans.
Don’t miss the prickly pear lemonade or the traditional New Mexican enchiladas that stuff corn tortillas with chicken or spinach, white cheddar cheese, onions and arrived topped with your choice of red or green chile sauce (or both).
Fair Warning: Once you’ve visited this place, you’ll feel compelled to return.
This restful haven celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2018.
- Located approximately one hour north of Santa Fe and 45 minutes south of Taos
- Open every day of the year
- Hot springs open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Spa appointments available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (last appointment time slot is 8 p.m.)
- Non-smoking facility
- The springs and spa are designated a Whisper Zone to ensure a peaceful ambiance
- Cell phones permitted in guest rooms and parking lots only
- To preserve the waters all guests must shower with soap to remove any oils and lotions from their skin, especially after spa treatments, before entering the pools. The only exception is natural, oil-free sunscreen
- Bring your own flip-flops to wear in the pool area—trust us, you’ll want them
- Bring a robe and towels or rent them plus a locker for $15
- Rates from $20/day include access to mineral pools, steam, sauna and mud pool. Spa services, private pools, restaurant, overnight accommodations and more are also available at additional rates. Private pools start at $45 for 50-minute sessions in addition to site entry fees
- Admission is free if you’re staying overnight and/or buying more than $100 in spa services Monday-Thursday
- Stay overnight: The property offers a total of 48 lodging units, including 2 private homes
- The gift shop features goods crafted by local artisans
- Daily yoga classes available
- Hiking trails weave thousands of acres
- 15 miles of sing-track mountain biking trails; bring your own bike, none are available for rent
- Odds of Encountering Children: Zero in a private pool unless you bring them. 21 Plus Salute! Otherwise, odds vary based on time of year, day of week and random factors. The rules for children require that anyone under age 13 be accompanied by an adult age 18 or older. Children age 12 and under are permitted with parental supervision from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the large pool only, and anytime in reserved private outdoor pools (fees apply). Children must be 13 years of age to enter all other pools. Babies and toddlers who are not potty trained are allowed in the large pool as long as they are wearing swim diapers—in other words, grownups, stay out of the large pool.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
50 Los Baños Drive
Ojo Caliente, NM 87549
– Photos courtesy Ojo Caliente
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.