Filed under: Activities & Attractions, Destination Camping & RV Resorts, Family Camping, Historic Places & Landmarks
A Visit to Ojo Caliente to Soothe the Spirit
Looking for a way to entertain our city-loving daughter Meghan while she was home with us this summer, we decided to take a day to check out the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa in nearby Ojo Caliente, NM. Located about 45 minutes from Taos, NM, the springs have been a gathering place and source of healing for centuries. Steeped in myth and legend, the use of these ancient springs can be traced back to the earliest humans living in the region.
The ancestors of the Taos Pueblo Tewa tribes built large pueblos and terraced gardens overlooking the springs. Posi, or Poseoulnge, meaning “village at the place of the green bubbling hot springs” was home to thousands of people. Posi was a vibrant center of activity in the 15th century and surrounding the springs is substantial evidence of prehistoric civilization in the ruins of the cities populated before the birth of our country.
In the 1500’s the Spaniards in their quest for gold and the Fountain of Youth also discovered the Springs and named them Ojo Caliente which literally translated means “warm eye” but is more commonly known as “hot spring.” One of the earliest residents to the area, Antonio Joseph, opened Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs as the first health spa in the country in 1868. The area became a hub of activity and eventually added a general store at which the legendary Kit Carson frequently purchased supplies. Joseph also built a sanitarium, which soon became known throughout the country as a place where thousands of invalids were cured every year.
The oldest building on the compound, the historic bathhouse, was built in 1868. The historic hotel followed in 1916 and an adobe round barn in 1924. All three buildings are still onsite. They have been lovingly restored and are currently listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The famous and the infamous have come to the springs to “take the waters.” Volumes of testimonials exist of seemingly miraculous cures that have resulted from soaking in the springs. Whether or not you believe the reports, generations continue to make the pilgrimage to these special waters.
The springs include a remarkable combination of four different types of mineral waters: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic. The resort includes separate pools of arsenic, which at 107 degrees is the warmest of the pools, iron, which is said to be beneficial to the blood and immune system and is at 105 degrees, the soda spring, located inside a rock enclosure which provides a steam pool and creates a sense of calm and relaxation and the lithia spring, which is said to treat depression, but is currently unavailable. Plans are in place to build a new lithia Pool in the near future. There are also cliff-side pools which contain a combination of the waters and are each a different temperature, a full size swimming pool filled with chlorinated water in which young children are welcome, kept at 87 degrees, and a mud pool which is an experience not to be missed. Over 100,000 gallons of water still come steaming to the surface every day, revitalizing those who soak in these legendary waters. Camping is available onsite for those wishing for more than a day visit.
Read more about New Mexico campgrounds and things to do in New Mexico.