New Mexico boasts an abundance of natural hot springs. The natural pools are especially prevalent in the northern part of the state, offering relaxing hot spots surrounded by glorious natural scenery. These hot springs are close to breathtaking areas ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and exploring. Book a stay at a New Mexico vacation rental to enjoy easy access to these remarkable hot springs. Check out the best ones in the state.
1. Spence Hot Springs
Spence Hot Springs lies about 66 north of Albuquerque in the Carson National Forest. While it’s a pretty easy drive from the city with a nice parking lot set aside for hot spring enthusiasts, there is a moderate 3-mile hike to reach the area. This, along with its clothing-optional status, makes it unsuitable for children. However, the hike takes you through the forest and up a slope, making for a beautiful journey. Once there, a series of pools greets you with waters that clock in at about 100 degrees. You can even have a spa experience without the price – these hot springs are free to the public – if you hike up the stream to the cave that feeds the pools, where you can sit inside and experience the closest thing nature has to a sauna. Follow the stream down to a picturesque waterfall for slightly cooler, pools.
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2. McCauley Hot Springs
Battleship Rock and McCauley Hot Springs are less than a mile south of Spence Hot Springs. From the parking lot to the hot springs is an easy 1.5-mile hike, culminating in three pools scenically arranged within the trees in a mountain meadow. The springs are open year-round because of the easy access, and at around 99 degrees, they’re not too hot. These springs are near Battleship Rock, a prow-shaped rock made of smooth obsidian. Once upon a time, about 5 million years ago, volcanic activity created this glassy surface, making the area worth a visit even without the hot springs thrown in. McCauley Hot Springs are free, but they’re clothing-optional, so they’re probably not the best destination for the kids. After a long soak (or right before), head another few miles to Jemez Falls to enjoy more natural beauty.
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3. Manby Hot Springs
Manby Hot Springs lies between the Carson National Forest and Santa Fe National Forest along the Rio Grande. It’s a little more off the beaten path than McCauley or Spence – you have to take a winding road up to the trailhead – but the rewards are worth it. The 20-minute hike and clothing-optional status makes it the perfect site for a couples. Lounge in the hot springs, and watch the river rushing by right in front of you. What makes this hot spring unique, other than its location on the river, is that it’s located in an old stagecoach stop, so you can get a little history in with your relaxing vacation. Manby Hot Springs also lies just 20 minutes from Taos, the perfect place to grab a vacation rental and explore during hot spring soaks. Visit the famous Taos Pueblo, an adobe village dating back centuries, and grab a bite at Taos Diner or Guadalajara Grill to sample real Mexican food.
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4. Black Rock Hot Springs
Black Rock Hot Springs is also located along the Rio Grande, just about 5 miles upriver. However, unlike Manby, the hike from the trailhead to the springs is only 5 to 10 minutes, a mere stroll, and the hot spring requires bathing suits, making it a great place to take the kids. The cooler 97-degree temperature is easy on more sensitive skin, but the easy access makes it a bit busier than its counterpart down the river. The large soaking pool is 4 feet deep at maximum, depending on the time of year. While in the area, hike the famous John Dunn Bridge, or raft down the river. The Rio Grande gorge creates ruggedly beautiful views which you can enjoy via Far Flung Adventures. Nearby is the Phi Beta Paca, an alpaca farm; it’s not often the kids are going to get to see a real alpaca, and you can buy some alpaca yarn for that scarf you’re knitting.
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5. Montezuma Hot Springs
Montezuma Hot Springs, located a few miles from Las Vegas, New Mexico, is a natural spring fed from the hill. At one time, it was the site of a resort, but now it’s just a collection of open pools of varying temperatures operated by United World College. One of the historic buildings from the original resort, built in the 1800s, remains for that vintage look. This is a great place to take the kids because it’s clean and bathing suits are required. The pools have a breathtaking view of the surrounding streams and woodlands. Las Vegas is a popular vacation destination not just because of the hot springs, but also due to all the natural beauty. Go boating on Storrie Lake with the kids, take a tour of Las Vegas National Wildlife Refuge, or view the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection.
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