Far into the volcanic area of Arroyo Hondo, you’ll find somewhat remote and rustic thermal pools known as Black Rock Hot Springs. They’re nestled right below a trail with black rocks scattered around, hence the name of the springs. How neat is that?!
Black Rock is very popular amongst locals – and even tourists – and rightly so. With two big pools alongside the Rio Grande, refreshing hot ‘n cold soaks and a fun hiking opportunity, Black Rock Hot Springs does make for a memorable experience.
|Address||Arroyo Hondo, NM, 87529, New Mexico|
|Location||12 miles (25 minutes) from Taos, New Mexico|
|GPS||36° 31′ 50.3652” N; 105° 42′ 44.1792” W|
|Open||All-year-round (be mindful of weather conditions because sometimes the springs may be inaccessible)|
A Brief History of Black Rock Hot Springs
Black Rock Hot Springs, just like most other US hot springs, was discovered by indigenous Americans. It is in very close proximity to Taos Pueblo – a historical Taos Tribes building that was built over a millennium ago – which suggests that the Black Rock Hot Springs was founded by them.
The coolest thing about Taos Pueblo is that it still actively houses almost 150 people, despite the lack of utility services, and is one of the biggest, most interesting tourist attractions of New Mexico.
Why You Should Visit Black Rock Hot Springs
Black Rock Hot Springs has two primitive mud/rock bottomed and rock walled pools that are situated next to each other, right along the Rio Grande. They are surrounded by mountainous landscapes and hills, and are accessible via a short hike (to learn more about accessibility, scroll down).
The water temperature varies between 97°F to 101°F. It is also important to note that the actual temperature of the pools depends on the river’s height. If the river water is not high enough (which always depends on the weather), it won’t be able to reach the pools which means that
- One of the two pools will be a lot more shallow than it already is, and won’t offer a chance to soak.
- It’ll get considerably harder to regulate and balance pool temperature, so always be sure to check and see if your body will be able to handle the heat.
- You should expect some algae, the spread of which depends on the temperature as well
You can reach Black Rock Hot Springs crossing a tiny, one-lane bridge that spans the Hondo River. After that, cross the John Dunn Bridge over the Rio Grande. Park near the first switchback after ascending the hill. The Black Rock Hot Springs are reachable by a 0.3 mile hike on the trail.
Other important tips to take into consideration:
- Black Rock Hot Springs is clothing optional, so if you are not comfortable with nudity, this may not be the place for you.
- Considering how popular Black Rock is amongst locals, expect some crowds.
- It offers amenities such as vault toilets.
- There are no changing rooms available. You’ll have to change in your car.
- The pools are available for day use only.
- No camping is allowed.
- Dogs are allowed on the trail path, but once you get to the pools, they have to be kept on a leash at all times.
- There are no stores nearby, so bring food, snacks, drinks etc. but follow the Leave No Trace principles
- Do not bring any glass bottles or containers because it’ll most probably result in someone getting injured considering their high likelihood of breaking.
What to bring along:
- Bring a thermometer to test the water temperature.
- Bring towels, duh!
- Hiking shoes are essential despite the short hike.
- A change of clothes for after your soak.
- If you’re not comfortable being nude, bring a bathing suit.
- Brings lots of water to stay hydrated.
- Sunscreen is a must! But make sure it’s reef-safe and chemical free in order not to pollute thermal waters.
With Black Rock’s convenient location, you get not one, but two towns to accommodate your visit. You can choose between the small and secluded Arroyo Hondo, (population of 288 people) full of kind and familial vibes, or the historically and culturally rich Taos.
So, if you are making a trip instead of a day visit to the springs, here are some accommodation options for you.
Activities Near Black Rock Hot Springs
As we have already mentioned, Black Rock Hot Springs has the privilege of being nestled close to two fabulous towns, each offering its own unique characteristics.
A trip to Black Rock Hot Springs offers a vast selection of things to do, and we’ll discuss each one.
No one is surprised that we are giving Taos Pueblo the top spot on the list. Rich in history, culture and meaning, Taos Pueblo is one of the most important destinations of not only New Mexico, but maybe also the whole of the US.
It is the only remaining indigenous American community that is deemed to be both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For more information, click here.
Crossing the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is inescapable in order to get to Black Rock Hot Springs, but this is just a friendly reminder to appreciate its remarkable architecture and majestic views.
If you make a winter trip to Black Rock Hot Springs, which would be a terrific idea, do not forget to check out Taos Ski Valley and either test your skiing abilities or perhaps gain some. It is considered to be the best skiing resort not only in New Mexico, but also in the whole of the South West, so this speaks volumes. Learn more here
Whether you are a history and art buff or are interested in other things, visiting the Millicent Rogers Museum is a must. Inside the beautiful and aesthetically pleasing building, you will find a massive collection of historical and cultural artifacts of the southwest including jewelry, art and photography, pottery and even textiles. Most importantly, the museum displays Native American and Hispanic art! Click here to learn more
This part of New Mexico will not leave adrenaline junkies disappointed either. If you love adventures and are experienced in river rafting, then there is an activity waiting just for you: Taos Box Rafting. Part of the Rio Grande Gorge and stretching for almost 16 miles, Taos Box Rafting presents one serious challenge.
If you want to just walk around and take in the Spanish colonial-style aesthetics, then you have to make Taos Plaza a starting point of your tour around the town. The plaza hosts numerous events. You can either walk around or just sit back, relax and have a refreshing drink.
Prepare your camera or better yet, a film camera, hop in the car and go on an Enchanted Circle Drive, which is literally as good as it sounds. It’s a road circling Wheeler Peak that’s burrowed between endless greenery and mountainous landscapes. So be ready to actually be enchanted.
The Final Takeaway
Visiting Black Rock Hot Springs provides the hot spring frequenters – and we know that there are a lot of you – with a trip so magical, you’ll think you’re in a Disney movie. However, it’s not nearly as important as the rich history and culture that surrounds this place that begs to be more recognized and appreciated.
As for the springs themselves, is it obvious that the convenient meeting point of the Rio Grande and Black Rock, pretty and rustic scenery, mountainous environment and fresh air make it a little difficult to resist the temptation.
Whether you want to have some alone time with nature, or just want to hang out with your friends, make memories with your family etc, Black Rock Hot Springs is here to make it possible for you. Just be considerate, respect nature and other people’s privacy and then soak that stress away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Drive up Highway 522 to milepost, and drive 5.3. Miles. Then turn west onto County Road B007. After the route makes a sharp right, continue on this road for another 2.5 miles. Keep to the left as you travel further along this route. After crossing the John Dunn Bridge, you’ll ultimately come to a small one-way bridge that crosses the Hondo River.
Black Rock Hot Springs is in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico. A 30 minute drive from Taos.
The hike to Black Rock Hot Springs is only 0.3 miles.