Touted as the home of the world’s only hot springs with four kinds of mineral waters, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa Resort is roughly 31.7 miles from Abiquiu, New Mexico, off what locals refer to as the Low Road (opposed to the High Road, which is the route we took to get to Taos Ski Valley – be sure to read my article on that stunning drive, which is packed with tons of great photos).
Set in a 1916 mission-style building, the property’s simple hotel rooms offer en suite bathrooms (without showers). While the rooms may be somewhat basic, they do have balconies and you can get some rooms (and suites of course) that have access to a private Kiva soaking pool. The hotel rooms however are not your primary reason for staying at Ojo Caliente.
The views are spectacular regardless of what time of year you’re there (we were there in January) and the place is a blend of a spiritual and wellness retreat and a resort getaway in the mountains.
While the property is somewhat remote on the end of a side road which almost feels like a driveway, it sprawls out on its 1,000+ acres, the primary building an adobe style structure. Here, there is a gift shop, a lounge area where you can relax and a main entrance to the Spring Pools.
Built in 1916, the mission revival style adobe hotel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is one of the oldest natural health resorts in the U.S. The rooms are charming but on the small side (double or queens) and have half bathrooms, as all bathing has been done in the bathhouses for more than a hundred years. In keeping with the traditions of the mineral springs, and the nature of a healing retreat, they do not have phones or TVs in their rooms, but they do offer wifi.
All lodging guests receive complimentary robes to use during their stay, which you can keep and use in the springs after you check-out. A suite is the way to go at this wellness establishment. Below is an example of a Pueblo Suite, which overlooks a beautiful courtyard and is designed with traditional New Mexican furnishings.
The Cliffside Suites are in the same style as the Pueblo Suites, but they have a private back patio facing the stunning cliffs that border the Springs complete with a private outdoor soaking tub filled with Ojo Caliente’s legendary waters.
Each suite includes 2 queen-sized beds or a king, full bath, a Kiva fireplace, microwave, mini-fridge, coffee machine and Satellite TV. Plaza, Pueblo and Cliffside Suite guests have exclusive access to the newly built Kiva Pool centrally located in the courtyard between these suites.
The Kiva Pool is filled with a combination of iron and arsenic mineral waters. Iron is considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system, preventing fatigue and promoting healthy skin tone. Arsenic water is believed to relieve digestive problems and relieve symptoms of arthritis.
Pueblo Indians native to Northern New Mexico traditionally used Kivas as a gathering place for the performance of sacred rituals. Native American Kivas are circular areas dug into the ground, covered with vigas and accessible by ladders. The Kiva Pool’s round shape and hand-carved stone walls echo the original Native American design. The waters at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs have been deemed sacred by the 8 Northern Pueblo tribal communities for nearly 3,000 years. It’s also worth noting that Pueblo ruins rest just above the property and overlook the new Kiva Pool.
You can also get a North Cottage – there are eight in total and they each have cozy furnishings and finishes with modern amenities. Six of the cottages have two queen-sized beds and two cottages have one queen-sized bed. Each cottage includes a 3/4 bath with shower, kitchenette with a microwave & mini-refrigerator (no stove), dishes, a coffee machine and Satellite TV. You can also rent a private home on the premises as well, particularly useful if you come there as a group or with your family.
The main reason to come to Ojo Caliente however is for their mineral springs, diverse in that they have a wide range of them to try out. Their sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters have flowed from a subterranean volcanic aquifer for thousands of years and over 100,000 gallons per day come to the surface.
Those yearning to bathe au naturale under big blue skies by day, or on a stunning starlit night, can book a private outdoor pool, complete with kiva fireplaces. We did this and had views of the awe-inspiring rock formations right above the secluded pool. Let’s just say it was a magical experience despite the nippy winter air.
After the sun goes down entirely, the rocks are illuminated by nearby lights – it’s a great romantic experience to do with your partner.
Below, the Cliffside Pools at night.
Ojo is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral water including lithia, iron, soda and arsenic. Their eleven pools are filled with different types and combinations of these waters with temperatures ranging from 80-109 degrees. All of the Springs and the Spa are a Whisper Zone which means you have to be aware of conversations while you’re in the mineral waters if you experience it with another person. Below are descriptions of their “springs.”
THE LITHIA SPRING
Lithia water is believed to relieve depression and aid digestion.
THE IRON SPRING
A Native American legend tells that the giant rock in the iron pool guards the place where the ancient people of the mesa once received food and water during times of famine. The warm, iron-rich water bubbles up from the natural pebble floor, providing hot spots to discover in this mystical outdoor cliffside pool. Iron is considered to be beneficial to the blood and immune system.
THE SODA SPRING
The rock walls in the enclosed Soda “steam” pool create a soft echo providing a sense of calm and relaxation. Water from the Soda Spring is said to have been used to relieve digestive problems.
THE ARSENIC SPRING
The arsenic water is believed to be beneficial for relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers and to heal a variety of skin conditions. Water from the iron and arsenic springs is blended in various pools throughout the property.
Another experience that is both healing and fun is their Mud Baths, a great opportunity to be a kid again. There’s a hot mud pool where you can slather mud all over your body and bake in the sun until it dries. As our special blend of clay dries, toxins are released from the pores of your skin, a very detoxifying experience. Below are the outside showers nearby the mud pools, where you cleanse the mud off when you’re done.
Their on-site SPA offers classic treatments, such as massages and facials, but you can also get an aging hand therapeutic treatment, food therapy and hot oil hair therapy as well. They offer herbal baths and something they refer to as a Milagro Wrap Combo, a private soaking tub you can use after your treatment or an Ojo Custom Face Therapy.
Here, they use SUNDARI gentle, dosha-specific cleansers and essential oils, followed by a bamboo and date exfoliant, a face and neck massage using gotu kola and lotus oil. They then give you a rose and lavender hydrating mask to slow down the breakdown of collagen and an eye therapy treatment using chamomile oil, neem eye cream and a dosh-specific moisturizer. I tried the Ancient Echoes Massage, which was both invigorating and relaxing….
The approach at Ojo is healthy living through healing waters and clean earth. The use of the waters can be traced back to the earliest human migrations in the region. Ancient peoples, the ancestors of today’s Native American Tewa tribes, built large pueblos and terraced gardens overlooking the springs. Surrounding the springs are the ruins of the cities populated before the birth of history.
The unusually diverse styles of pottery shards and other artifacts remain as a testament to Posi (“village at the place of the green bubbling hot springs”) and the spring’s long-standing iconic significance within the larger region. Later in the 19th century, Ojo became known as a “sanitarium” where you could go to get cured through the healing effects of the waters and the earth.
Ojo Caliente boasts The Artesian Restaurant on-site, which has a cozy bar area to sit at as well, which we opted for in an effort to keep it casual that evening. They have a bar menu where you can order Mayan Chicken Tacos, Fish Tacos or burgers, as well as Chorizo sausage, Asadero and goat cheese tortillas, olives and sweet and spicy nuts.
Since it was a cool night, I went for a soup – they have a seasonal soup of the day as well as a delicious Tortilla Soup, which is vegetarian and a must try — it is served with tomato, avocado, lime, cilantro and cheese.
Salads are very fresh and a meat (chicken, Mexican shrimp or Blackened Mahi Mahi) can be added to any of them. A classic caesar is one option of course, but they also have an Artesian Salad with apple, pinon, feta cheese and a prickly pear vinaigrette, a Spinach Salad, with black beans, avocado and a toasted cumin vinaigrette and a Grilled Steak or Salmon salad, made with arugula, tomatoes, tobacco onions, served with a green chile ranch dressing.
While the entrees sounded out of this world, we went a little more casual, largely because we had been dining in a lot of 4 and 5 star establishments all the way across the country and sometimes a few restaurants a day. My tummy needed a rest and frankly, wanted something basic, and so we stuck with salads, soups, fajitas and dare I say it — Pizza.
They make a delicious 10″ red chile crust with their “special sauce” and you can get various toppings including Asadero Cheese & Pinon Pesto, Wild Mushroom and Buffalo Sausage.
OKAY, so yes, we also had a Buffalo burger, which is a treat since they don’t tend to offer that as the “norm” on restaurant menus on the East or West coast.
If we weren’t so full from weeks of overeating, I can assure you I would have tried their Chile Seared Sea Scallops with roasted corn tamale, corn cream and sauteed spinach, or their Grilled Trout, which they serve with a toasted pinon glaze and your choice of five grain pilaf or smashed potatoes.
Vegetarian options included a delicious Vegetable Chile Relleno with goat cheese, red chile sauce and quinoa tamale and a Pasta Pomodoro, which they make with oven roasted roma tomatoes, garlic, pinon nuts, chile flakes, mascarpone, basil and parmasan cheese tossed over a linguini pasta. OMG!! Of course, meat lovers have plenty of options as well with their El Rito T-Bone Lamb Chops cooked in a Zinfandel wine sauce and roasted red potatoes and the Chile Rubbed NY Strip, which they simply grill and serve with a loaded baked potato.
Breakfast is also served in the same restaurant, the menu a healthy mishmash of smoothies, fruit and yogurt, steel cut oats and house-made granola. Then again, you can cheat and get a Prickly Pear Mimosa with champagne, orange juice and prickly pear or their delicious Blue Corn and Pinon Nut pancakes, Breakfast Tacos, Huevos Rancheros or the over-the-top Dulce de Leche tostada (French toast with granola, maple syrup and butter). YUM!!
If you’re less of a foodie and more of an adventure seeker, you can go hiking and mountain biking in the area, take a stroll along the two-mile Bosque River Loop nearby or take a yoga class, which is offered 7 days a week. The Springs property consists of 1,100 acres and is adjoined to thousands of acres of national forest and public land, so there is plenty to beauty in this natural environment to explore on foot, on bike and by car.
Two thumbs up — it’s a great place to relax, and restore yourself through their natural and ancient healing waters, smack in the heart of New Mexico.
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
50 Los Banos Drive
Caliente, NM 87549
PHOTO CREDITS: All photos watermarked with Renee Blodgett or Renee B are my own – all others are courtesy of the Ojo Caliente marketing team.
NOTE: I was hosted by the resort but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.