A two-lane road flanked the gurgling, tumbling Rio Grande. The road began a measured and then steep ascent through a spectacular valley of plunging inclines and breathtaking, massive rock formations, as pavement gave way to gravel. After climbing for 20 minutes, we wondered why we hadn’t seen any signs for Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, or whether we would ever see a paved road again.
We stopped for snacks and directions at a tidy little roadside store. The owner said there were no signs along our cliffside drive because most people take a longer highway route to Ojo Caliente, and the pavement on our route would soon reappear.
We arrived half an hour later. One copper circle inside another decorated a gushing stone-faced fountain at the entrance. Mirroring a petroglyph found in nearby ruins, the logo springs to life at night in ethereal spot lighting. This is the ‘hot eye’ and the springs’ namesake.
The magic here begins with the unique collection of four geothermal mineral springs in a single location. And traveling through endless acres at Ojo Caliente was like driving through a Cezanne painting.
Weathered and pock-marked rock walls in muted shades of brown and rust shielded the springs, while pale lavender and buttery yellow flowers, and olive green multi-branched cacti dotted the late-summer landscape. Near the adobe Round Barn, micaceous clay dust that remained from pottery classes painted headlight-illuminated windshields gold.
During the winter season, Mother Nature drops sparkling snowflakes into the steamy pools. At Christmastime, Ojo Caliente’s staff has been known to provide hot chocolate for guests, and then ring tiny bells through the frosty air of each New Year’s Eve.
Although Ojo Caliente offers complete spa services, from massages to pedicures, it is the natural springs that draw many visitors. At 105 degrees, the arsenic pool is reputed to heal a variety of skin conditions and decrease arthritis and stomach ulcers.
With a temperature of 109 degrees, the iron pool is said to benefit the blood, while the Lithia spring is considered a digestive aid and reliever of depression.
Bathers whispered their conversations as they enjoyed the steamy waters. A spout between two pools ran warm and soothing against my neck and we floated almost effortlessly in the soda pool.
One of many available spa treatments, preparation for the detoxifying Milagro Relaxation Wrap required a dip in a mineral pool to help raise our body temperature. In a therapy room, minimal light and soothing music greeted us as we laid quietly on massage tables, tightly wrapped us in blankets.
My toes become immobile, and I could barely wiggle my fingers. But I drifted into meditation and felt surprised when an attendant loosened my blankets, 25 minutes later.
After dark, Ojo’s pools became private grottos with an otherworldly quality. As we slid into the warm individual pool we had rented, a dense blanket of stars filled the sky and a blazing piñon-wood fire burned in our small horno (fireplace). Backlit cliffs sent shimmers across the water.
It was the perfect end to a day of rest and relaxation.
Please note that eco-friendly Ojo Caliente offers multiple lodging options and a full-service restaurant. In addition, these are older photos that may not accurately reflect the resort's current appearance. Finally, Ojo Caliente has completed a major reconstruction project following a massive fire that took place there, in August 2020.
Also, as is common in the travel industry, I may have received accommodations and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this post, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.
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I love crafting stories about fantastic food & beverages, must-visit destinations & eco-friendly topics. I wrote a 350+ page book about Kansas. And I've worked with dozens of additional clients - from Fodors.com & AAA magazines to USAToday.com & WanderWithWonder.
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