New Mexico may not be as rich as other US states when it comes to hot springs, however, it is rich with opportunities to explore the outdoors and in some lucky instances, you’ll have the chance to soak in some of New Mexico’s free hot springs, offering the ultimate reward for many energy-consuming adventures.
On your journey to these springs, you’ll encounter plenty of challenging hiking trails, many dirt roads and a lot of mud, but at the same time, the most gorgeous and picturesque destinations that will make all this fuss and hustle well worth it.
You can use this article as a guide to some of the best hot springs destinations in the state of New Mexico.
Jordan Hot Springs
Jordan Hot Springs is one of the best gems of Gila National Forest. It’s got it all for outdoor lovers: a challenging 7 mile hike to get to, plenty of exploration opportunities and one of the most picturesque views out there from the geothermal pool. Some even refer to Jordan Hot Springs as a hiker’s dream, but don’t get too carried away because when we say that the trailhead to these springs is challenging, we mean it. You’ll have to cross 15 rivers to reach your destination, so dress accordingly and pay extra attention to your footwear.
However, once you get there you’ll find a beautiful man-made, rock-walled thermal pool with a gravelly bottom. The average temperature is 94°F-100°F. It also has a tree positioned across both sides that creates a bridge (not recommended to cross) and divides the pool into two.
Jordan Hot Springs can comfortably accommodate around half a dozen visitors. It’s one of the best apres-hiking destinations with its serene and tranquil environment and abundance of minerals that’ll do wonders for your consumed body.
Black Rock Hot Springs
Going hand in hand with the weather, Black Rock Hot Springs is a semi-rustic, very popular hot springs destination for both locals and tourists alike. Located only 12 miles from Taos, NM alongside the Rio Grande are two wide but shallow pools with an average temperature of 97°F-101°F. These springs may prove to be extremely unpredictable for first-timers, seeing as their temperature and depth depend on both the Rio Grande and the weather. Sometimes pools may become so shallow that they won’t be able to accommodate any soakers, so that’s why proper research is needed before you head out.
The only way to reach the destination is via a short hiking trail decorated by black rocks, hence the name of the springs themselves. Once you complete the hike, you’ll be rewarded with two majestic pools, hot ‘n cold soaking opportunities and stunning mountainous views.
McCauley Hot Springs
Located near Battleship Rock (honestly, we’d go anywhere called ‘Battleship Rock’. Its resemblance to a Navy warship is what warranted its current name) in Santa Fe National Forest, McCauley Hot Springs – most of the time referred to as Warm Springs – is one of the most frequented hot springs destination in the state, boasting two primitive pools of 95°F and the New Mexico-characteristic scenic views all around.
These pools are large enough to fit more than a dozen people.
In order to get to McCauley Hot Springs you’ll need to complete a 5.6-km out-and-back hike. This trailhead is full of all sorts of activity opportunities such as birdwatching, running and obviously hiking, so be prepared to meet a lot of fellow adventurers on your journey.
Dogs are allowed on the trailhead and at the springs but they need to be leashed at all times.
Note that these springs aren’t clothing optional but despite state law you’ll still encounter nude soakers.
Spence Hot Springs
Spence Hot Springs is a destination more appreciated for its beautiful views and pine-covered landscapes of Santa Fe National Forest than its 81°F-95°F temperature, which is considerably cool for hot springs standards.
Located right off Highway 4 and requiring a 0.6 mile (around 20 minutes) hike to get to, Spence Hot Springs is an ideal destination for newbie hikers and visitors who’re just getting a taste of what it’s like to soak in hot springs.
There you’ll find two warm rock-walled hot spring pools perched atop a cliff, overlooking the beautiful wonders of Santa Fe Forest. Also be sure to check out the grotto for more solitude, privacy and completely different vibes. Note that according to NM state law, clothing is required.
Spence Hot Springs always gets crowded due to its easy access. If you want to avoid crowds you can find some tips to do just that here. If you want to learn more about Spence Hot Springs, you can do so.
San Antonio Hot Springs
Just like Spence, San Antonio Hot Springs is also located off Highway 4 in Santa Fe National Forest. However, the similarities stop there.
San Antonio Hot Springs is a collection of four shallow thermal pools with an average temperature of 105°F and is one of the toughest hot springs to reach in New Mexico. Requiring a 4WD and a 5 mile hike to get to, San Antonio Hot Springs poses quite a challenge even for some of the most skilled hikers out there, but it’s the perfect destination for those who don’t shy away from obstacles in the wilderness.
Once you complete 5 miles of dirt road with your high-clearance car and an uphill, extremely steep and rocky one-mile-hike to the destination, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of numerous thermal pools overlooking beautiful valleys, coniferous trees and mountainous landscapes.
Montezuma Hot Springs
Montezuma Hot Springs has seen many purposes, owners and hotels but originally, like most of the hot springs in the US, it was used by indigenous people to heal wounds from war.
Now, Montezuma Hot Springs is one of the best family-friendly hot springs in New Mexico. located only 6 miles from the New Mexico Las Vegas, not the Nevada Las Vegas!
These springs used to be the main attraction of the Montezuma Hotel, and even though the hotel was closed quite some time ago, the pools are still accessible to the public for free despite being situated on private property.
There you’ll find several concrete walled pools shaped like tubs, with the temperature ranging between 102°F-127°F.
Smoking and nudity aren’t allowed!
Every hot spring has its own quirks. They all have a set of rules that visitors need to follow regardless of what kind of spring you’re visiting. Visitors need to be extra conscious of their time in free and natural hot springs destinations seeing as they get no constant maintenance the way commercialized springs do.
For more general and very important “hot springs etiquette,” we highly recommend you take a moment to check out our carefully compiled easy-to-read list of “dos and don’ts” here. And always, always respect our nature – pack out what you pack in and LEAVE NO TRACE.
The Final Takeaway
Even though New Mexico doesn’t house that many hot springs, there’s still quite a few that you can enjoy. These are some of the best free hot springs in the state and whether you’re a newcomer or not, we’re fairly positive that you’ll find at least one to your liking.
Right now all you need to do is plan, prepare and then just sit back, relax and let the stress fall away.
While we at Traxplorio do our very best to give you the latest information about these hot springs sites, life happens, weather happens, and property owners happen. We always recommend you go to the official hot springs’ web page and/or the relevant state authority page to check conditions, times, and prices (where relevant) before you head out. Thanks for understanding, and enjoy your soak!