Just beyond Espanola, the road begins to wind through beautiful red cliffs and canyons where within twenty-three miles you will find yourself at the secluded funky little hot springs resort town of Ojo Caliente.
Brightly colored paints decorate cafes and businesses in the New Mexican folk style.
Though barely more than a stop on the road to the driver’s eye, nestled down a small one-lane road is the hot springs resort named Ojo Caliente’.
Traditional adobe buildings and cottages come together in the tiny upscale resort community offering accommodations for overnight stays. Day-trippers are welcome as well and all may spend an hour or a day soaking in the healing waters beneath the bright blue New Mexico sky. One almost expects Georgia O’Keeffe or D.H. Lawrence to come walking around a corner, or perhaps this day it would be the likes of Hollywood stars who film in this area.
Landscaped grounds, a labyrinth, and a very rustic feel lend to the atmosphere of this ancient healing spot. The pools contain what is believed to be healing water and the main pool was used for centuries. The Tewa tribe used this pool as have many people throughout history. There is a very sacred feel to the area and the healing waters will cleanse and refresh the soul.
Despite the relative fame of Ojo Caliente, the resort remains reasonably low-key and peaceful. Some of New Mexico’s famed hot springs become victim to their own success. That is, their beauty attracts crowds which, in turn, fosters a less than tranquil atmosphere and a degree of notoriety, particularly among locals.
Ojo Caliente is somewhat remote but still possesses a welcoming charm, thanks in large part to the positivity of staff and visitors.
The professionalism shines through beyond mere soaking. The rentable on-site suites are maintained to a high standard and the spa team does an excellent job of making sure there’s something for everyone here.
Beauty treatments and massages are varied and delivered well albeit somewhat expensive for the casual visitor. Meanwhile, the restaurant and bar offer the opportunity to cap off an all-day visit with a satisfying and enjoying meal.
Hot spring resorts are fantastic for casual visitors to the state but not always as suitable for the more intrepid or budget-conscious traveler. It may be just us, but there’s a deep sense of satisfaction to be found in going off-the-beaten-track to locate one of New Mexico’s equally beautiful but more obscure natural spring sites.
Ultimately, New Mexico’s beauty stems in large part from its ruggedness and complexity. Resorts like Ojo Caliente can sometimes leave you feeling short-changed as if the enjoyment came too easily! However, what is a drawback for one visitor to the state can be a blessing for another.
Naturally, the main concern for some visitors is cost. Ojo Caliente is, on the whole, reasonably priced. However, booking a suite, beauty treatments, and paying for restaurant meals isn’t necessarily within the grasp of all locals or indeed tourists.
We heartily recommend at least one visit to Ojo Caliente, unless your visit to New Mexico is so ‘whistlestop’ that you can’t afford to skip a single day of adventure and discovery.
It is a truly well-run institution and does an admirable job of combining an experience of natural beauty with all the comforts you’d expect from a professional operation.
If it suits your budget, it’s well worth splurging on a suite for the night in order to make the most of your visit. However, Ojo Caliente does also welcome day visitors.
Note: The little things matter and, as always, DiscoverNewMexico.com has no commercial interest in Ojo Caliente and was not compensated in any way for this piece.
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