Last Updated on September 7, 2020

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The moniker Land of Enchantment is proudly displayed upon New Mexico license plates, and for good reason. Although this is mostly an arid land of cactus, scrub-bush and tumbleweeds you’ll still find plenty of steamy New Mexico hot springs to choose from. In fact, we visited three Taos hot springs in one day so we’ll show you those first followed by other pockets of geothermal activity throughout this state.

Discover More of the Hot Springs New Mexico is Famous For

This article tells you how and where to find even more hot springs in New Mexico. Each spot highlighted here includes hints on soaking etiquette, water temperature, what to expect when you get there and very important information on nudity in the springs. Don’t forget to check out Touring Hot Springs New Mexico: The State’s Best Resorts and Rustic Soaks for even more information.

Again, we first mention how to easily visit three Taos hot springs in one day. In particular, pay close attention to our driving directions to Manby Hot Springs in Taos; we tell you the best road to take for visiting these beautiful riverside soaking pools! Following Taos we include a good variety of hot springs in New Mexico to choose from, so keep reading and find your perfect spot!

Need a Place to Stay While Exploring These New Mexico Hot Springs?

You’ll always find somewhere special to stay through Airbnb. From rural getaways to luxury spots in the city, Airbnb’s New Mexico listings offer something for everyone. Find your ideal place to stay for the night and wake up ready for your next relaxing hot spring soak. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to products and services whereby we receive a nominal commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. This comes at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclaimer for full information.


Visiting Three Taos Hot Springs In One Day

Taos is situated in a beautiful area of Northern New Mexico. Aside from the historical and cultural draw of this town, we encourage you to seek out some of the scenic drives in the area. Stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the cool mountain air will likely entice you to visit the three Taos hot springs located nearby. Again, all three can easily be visited in one day.

The first three hot springs listed below lie just beyond town; one to the south and two more to the north. Getting to Manby Hot Springs requires a drive on a formidable dirt road. Be aware heavy rain and snow makes this road difficult to traverse. The remaining hot springs near Taos are accessible over more favourable roads. Look for detailed directions and road considerations regarding each below.

Note: The first two spots mentioned, Manby Hot Springs and Black Rock Hot Springs, are only 3.5 miles away from each other by road. These are both easily visited in several hours. Ponce de Leon Hot Springs, mentioned third, are approximately 20 miles south of Manby and Black Rock.


Manby Hot Springs in Taos

A view of the Rio Grande River from one of three Taos hot springs in the area.
One of Our Favourite Taos Hot Springs

Directions to Manby Hot Springs: To get to these pools, also known as Stagecoach Hot Springs, take NM Route 522 north of Taos. Turn left onto County Road B007 approximately 5.3 miles from Taos on NM Route 522. After 2.5 miles B007 makes a hard right, however turn left onto Tune Road at this point. This stretch quickly deteriorates, so proceed with great caution.

Continue beyond a sign indicating the Dobson House to a fork in the road; head left. Continue further until you reach a very large parking area for the hot springs. Follow the hiking trail about .9 miles downhill to the hot springs.

Looking For a Place to Stay in Taos?

Find somewhere special to stay near these three New Mexico hot springs. From rural getaways to luxury spots in town, Airbnb’s Taos listings offer something for everyone. Find your ideal place to stay and see more of the hot springs near Taos.

From the parking area a 20 to 30-minute hike leads down into the gorge. This hike is steep and narrow, along an unmaintained path – wear hiking boots or trail shoes with proper ankle support and be prepared for this trail to the hot springs. Manby requires considerable effort to get to and may be less frequented than nearby Black Rock Hot Springs (see below).

Road Conditions to Manby Hot Springs: Luckily, we had dry conditions on our drive to Manby Hot Springs. A 4-wheel drive is advantageous on this road, however most vehicles should be able to manage this under dry conditions. Wet or dry roads aside, expect a badly uneven surface with significant ruts and dips; take it slow and know the capabilities of your vehicle.

Price: Free

Hours: No restrictions.

The Pools at Manby Hot Springs

The location of Manby Hot Springs is absolutely stunning! Nestled at the bottom of the Río Grande Gorge are three pools, one of which is small and somewhat insignificant. Each pool varies slightly in temperature. A fourth pool exists however it’s only viable for use when the river level is low. The natural sand/gravel bottomed pools are roughly two feet deep.

A clear pool of water with a man soaking in it on the edge of a river near Taos, New Mexico.
Remnants of the West Wall of Manby’s Bathhouse.

Lay back and enjoy towering views of the Rio Grande Gorge as it looms overhead whilst listening to the babbling and rushing of the river as it tumbles over rocks and pushes through this incredible natural backdrop.

Water Temperature: 91°F to 101°F

Clothing Optional: Yes

Camping: No designated sites exist here, however we observed a tent in the parking area during our visit. Please be mindful this is a residential area; we suspect camping isn’t permitted in the parking area.

Toilets: Manby Hot Springs featured a clean porta-potty at the parking area during our visit.

Note of Interest

It seems strange that the pools bear reference to a name (Manby) that holds a sinister notoriety within Taos. Arthur Manby was a swindling conniver whose renown for illicit dealings has earned him an immoral and immortal reputation. One of his schemes was the bathhouse he constructed on land he never actually owned, now known as Manby Hot Springs.

A view of the Rio Grande Gorge near one of the Taos hot springs.
Note the Switchbacks of the Old Stagecoach Road Up the Embankment

The main pool still has the ruins of the west wall of Manby’s bathhouse as a feature; today this is the warmest pool. Manby operated a brothel and general store for the convenience of visitors to his bathhouse as well. He came to a mysterious demise, decapitated in his home in 1929.

As the alternative name Stagecoach suggests, there is a bit of history to these pools. As you look across the river you will see the remainders of the old retaining walls of a stagecoach road, switchbacking up the embankment. It seems unfathomable a stagecoach ever made it down here!


Black Rock Hot Springs in Taos

A view of one of two Taos hot springs set along the banks of the Rio Grande in New Mexico.

Directions to Black Rock Hot Springs: Reach Black Rock Hot Springs from NM Route 522 north of Taos. Turn left on County Road B007 approximately 5.3 miles from Taos. County Road B007 makes a sharp right after 2.5 miles; take this right and head downhill. Soon, a narrow one-lane bridge crosses the Hondo River followed by the John Dunn Bridge across the Rio Grande River.

This road immediately turns left and heads uphill after John Dunn Bridge. The parking area for Black Rock Hot Springs is just beyond, located at the first switchback of this road. From the parking area it’s about a 5 or 10-minute walk along an easy trail to Black Rock Hot Springs.

Note: Directions to Black Rock Hot Springs and Manby Hot Springs both feature County Road B007.

Road Conditions to Black Rock Hot Springs: At the time of our visit County Road B007 (gravel) to Black Rock Hot Springs was very good. Expect a steep downhill gradient with no guardrails – pay attention on this road and take your time getting to the hot springs.

A path alongside a river with a bridge in the background.

Price: Free

Hours: A sign at the parking area to Black Rock Hot Springs indicates Day Use Only.

The Pools at Black Rock Hot Springs

Black Rock Hot Springs have two pools but river conditions must be right to access them both. During our visit the river was too high and engulfed one of the pools. The only accessible pool during our visit fit six adults snugly. This soaking pool contained a combination mud/gravel bottom.

Water Temperature: 101°F

Clothing Optional: Yes

Camping: No

Toilets: Pit toilets are located at John Dunn Bridge Recreational Site, a popular area for fishing, hiking, biking, swimming etc.

Overview

Like Manby, the pools at Black Rock Hot Springs are beautifully situated at the bottom of the Río Grande Gorge in Northern New Mexico. Black Rock is easier to access than Manby Hot Springs and therefore much more popular; you’ll likely be sharing this spot with other bathers.


Ponce de Leon Hot Springs in Taos

Two concrete Taos hot springs pools filled with clear water.
Ponce de Leon Hot Springs Near Taos, New Mexico

Directions to Ponce de Leon Hot Springs: From Taos take NM Route 68 south several miles to Ranchos de Taos. From NM Route 68 turn left on Old State Road 382. This road forks after approximately one mile with Vista Del Valle Road; take the right fork and stay on Old State Route 382.

Route 382 soon forks again at Miranda Canyon Road; take this fork left. Just after this fork is a parking area on the left. Directly across from the parking area is a gate going across another road; walk around this gate.

The gate marks the beginning of an easy ten minute walk to Ponce De Leon Hot Springs and puts you on Taos Pueblo land. A posted sign indicates “You are granted temporary access to the land…” if you abide by the listed conditions.

The road soon makes a sharp turn left and continues straight for several hundred feet, where a small clearing appears. At this point is a path just off the right side of the road; continue on this path for several minutes to Ponce de Leon Hot Springs.

A closed gate with several signs on it going across the old road to Ponce de Leon hot springs near Taos, New Mexico.

Road Conditions to Ponce de Leon Hot Springs: The short gravel road portion of the drive to Ponce de Leon Hot Springs is in quite good condition. Expect only washboard surfaces along certain stretches of this road.

Price: Free

Hours: Daylight hours only.

The Pools at Ponce de Leon Hot Springs

A short walk from the gated area brings you to what was once a health resort. Your first glimpse of this abandoned spa is an empty Olympic size swimming pool filled with weeds and cattails today. The remaining soaking pools, filled with steamy water, are just beyond this.

An old swimming pool with vegetation growing in it.
The Overgrown Olympic Sized Pool

There are three accessible pools at Ponce de Leon Hot Springs with an on-site sacred pool which is off limits to the general public. This pool, cordoned off behind a wooden palisade fence, is for tribal use only.

The water is crystal clear and the pools feature gravel bottoms. The two main pools, i.e. the large pool and the smaller one at it’s upper end (by the palisades), are about 3.5 feet deep. The shallow pool off to the side is only about a foot deep.

A concrete pool filled with hot spring water with a wood fence in the background.
One of Many Taos Hot Springs to Visit in 1 Day.

Water Temperature: 91°F

Clothing Optional: Nothing is posted indicated a clothing requirement.

Camping: No. This is strictly a day use area on Taos Pueblo property. Respect the posted rules.

Toilets: No

Note of Interest

Although the water here is tepid rather than hot, these pool are absolutely mesmerizing. Ponce de Leon Hot Springs are like an enigma in the middle of nowhere. The name of this spot is deftly attributed to the conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, the first governor of Puerto Rico, who allegedly searched for The Fountain of Youth.

A woman soaking in a pool looking out over tress against a blue sky.
Another of Our Favourite Taos Hot Springs.

From research gleaned online we learned Ponce de Leon Hot Springs was a resort back in 1928, eventually closing and then falling into a state of decay and disrepair. That decay adds to the appeal of this odd oasis in the woods.

After decades of existing in limbo, legal ownership of this land parcel was transferred from Taos Land Trust to Taos Pueblo in July, 2012. Public access is granted by Taos Pueblo in accordance with their posted etiquette rules.


Montezuma Hot Springs Near Las Vegas, New Mexico

A pool known as the lobster pot, filled with hot sprig water at Montezuma Hot Springs near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Montezuma Hot Springs, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Directions to Montezuma Hot Springs: From Las Vegas take NM Route 65 north about five miles to the village of Montezuma. Just past Montezuma are parking areas on the shoulder of NM Route 65; look for several signs on the right side of the road behind the guardrails. You will likely see other vehicles parked here.

Also, look for the brick remains of an old ice house which once served Montezuma Castle, perched on the hillside to the right as you approach the village. Montezuma Castle now houses Armand Hammer United World College.

Price: Free

Hours: Daylight hours only

The Pools at Montezuma Hot Springs

These concrete tubs aren’t big and tend to be cozy when other bathers are present. The pools of Montezuma Hot Springs feature stone/rock bottoms. Soaking here leaves you feeling like a happy boneless chicken! Cool off in Gallinas Creek which flows just below the hot spring pools.

Looking For a Place to Stay in Las Vegas, New Mexico?

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The first three pools at Montezuma Hot Springs are clustered together. Most noteworthy is The Lobster Pot, flanked by two smaller and much shallower pools. These three pools are found at the entrance, several yards from the side of NM Route 65.

A path links to several outlying pools a bit further from the road. Most noteworthy of these is The Toaster, which is about five feet deep. Near The Toaster are several more pools and an old bathhouse structure, also containing a pool.

concrete pool filled wit hot spring water.
The Lobster Pot, 116 degrees F.

Water Temperature: Of the three pools clustered together, The Lobster Pot was a rather hot 116°F, the middle pool was a perfect 110°F and the lower pool was 107°F during our visit.

The Toaster clocked in at an incredibly toasty 118.5°F the first time we soaked and a more temperate 113°F during a return visit. It was on this later visit we finally braved the heat and took the plunge into the aptly named Bagel Slot.

The outlying three pools near The Toaster and the original bathhouse structure ranged from 91°F to 104°F during our visits.

A concrete slap with two holes cut into it, filled with hot spring water at Montezuma Hot Springs near Las Vegas, New Mexico.
The Toaster with it’s bagel slot and toast-shaped slot. The water reaches a toasty 118.5 degrees F.

Clothing Optional: No. Clothing is mandatory at Montezuma Hot Springs.

Camping: Day use only. Hours are posted at the entrance, per order of the landholders of Montezuma Hot Springs, Armand Hammer United World College.

Toilets: No

Note of Interest

The original name of the site was Las Vegas Hot Springs and featured a hotel in the 1800’s. The therapeutic waters were the hotel’s selling point as salutary to those with rheumatism, tuberculosis and other ailments. This was also the site of New Mexico’s first building to have electric lighting.


Spence Hot Springs in Jemez, New Mexico

The sun reflecting off a pool of hot spring water at Spence Hot Springs in New Mexico.

Directions to Spence Hot Springs: Reach Spence Hot Springs from NM Route 4, about seven miles north of Jemez Springs village. Or, coming north from San Antonio Hot Springs (see below), reach Spence Hot Springs 1.5 miles south of the where NM Route 126 intersects NM Route 4.

A small parking area for about 10 vehicles marks the trailhead to Spence Hot Springs. The 10-minute hike to the springs is on a well maintained trail. This easy hike descends and crosses San Antonio Creek, then ascends to the springs.

Price: Free

Hours: None, so bring a flashlight for early morning and late night soaking!

The Pools at Spence Hot Springs

Bathers will find two big pools here. The upper pool features a cave big enough to wade into. This would make a perfect steam sauna if the water was hot enough. The bottoms of each pool at Spence Hot Springs is a combination of mud and gravel.

This is a hot spring New Mexico folks certainly frequented in the past, including us when we lived in Albuquerque over 20 years ago. Unfortunately, our most recent visit left us sad – the water here is considerably more tepid than it used to be…

Stay in Jemez Springs and See Much More of This Beautiful Area!

This part of New Mexico is absolutely stunning so check out these Airbnb stays near Jemez Springs and give yourself time to explore.

The water is also quite murky and stagnant because Spence Hot Springs don’t flow like they used to. We took several photos here but couldn’t be bothered soaking for long in the uninviting abyss. Easy access to Spence Hot Springs means this is a highly trafficked site, likely contributing to their overall demise.

A pool at Spence Hot Springs filled with clear hot water reflecting the sun with pine trees in the background.
The Murky Waters of Spence Hot Springs

Water Temperature: We clocked the waters at 83°F, 91°F and 94°F in the cave.

Clothing Optional: As this is located on U.S. National Forest land you may be cited by a ranger if caught bathing nude. However many folk take their chances and bathe nude here.

Camping near Spence Hot Springs: You’ll find several campgrounds nearby on U.S. National Forest Land. We stayed at Redondo Campground on several occasions. Visit the U.S. National Forest website for more information on camping in this area.

A burgundy van backed up to camping spot with a man standing outside of it looking at a campfire.
Redondo Campground, Jemez, New Mexico

Toilets: No

Note of Interest

The water at Spence Hot Springs is heated from the nearby super volcano making up Valles Caldera National Preserve. This stunning spot is about a 30-minute drive north of the hot springs on NM Route 4.


San Antonio Hot Springs Near Jemez, New Mexico

Several steamy, clear pools from one of the wilderness hot springs New Mexico is famous for.
San Antonio Hot Springs, Near Jemez Springs, New Mexico

Directions to San Antonio Hot Springs: The access road for San Antonio Hot Springs is located off NM Route 126, which junctions with NM Route 4 at the locality of La Cueva, ten miles north of the village of Jemez Springs. From NM Route 126 look for Forest Service Road (FSR) 376, approximately located at mile marker 36.

Spend More Time in the Mountains of New Mexico…In Style and Comfort!

It’s a long hike out to this New Mexico hot spring so why not spend a few days relaxing your journey? Check out some of the unique and peaceful Airbnb stays near San Antonio Hot Springs and take in the natural beauty of the area.

A small parking area with a gate across Forest Service Road 376 is on the right. The gate is usually open from April through November, however the springs are accessible all year. See details on the road to San Antonio Hot Springs below.

A sunrise over the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico.
Sunrise, Hiking to San Antonio Hot Springs, Jemez

Road Conditions to San Antonio Hot Springs: If the gate is open high clearance vehicles can access San Antonio Hot Springs by taking FSR 376; all others vehicles are advised NOT to attempt this! If the gate is closed, and you aren’t driving on FSR 376, you must hike five miles each way to San Antonio Hot Springs.

For high clearance vehicles, expect a very deteriorated dirt road with mud puddles, large rocks and deep ruts. High clearance vehicles traversing this road must then park at a designated area and hike 15 minutes from the lot to San Antonio Hot Springs.

A very badly rutted dirt road with a mud puddle in the middle.

For all others, FSR 376 is a pleasant and relatively easy hike to San Antonio Hot Springs. This road features a slight elevation gain at the beginning but is quite level beyond that. San Antonio Hot Springs are located on a hillside where a steep but short hike to the pools is required.

Price: Free

Hours: None, so bring a flashlight for early morning and late night soaking!

The Pools at San Antonio Hot Springs

In our opinion this is the best hot spring New Mexico has to offer! About six to seven inviting pools cascade down the hillside. The hot spring water is crystal clear and each pool has a gentle gravel/pebble bottom. The views across the pine valley from the pools are simply stunning!

The upper pool has three pipes shooting hot water from the hillside. A thoughtfully placed rock seat directly beneath these pipes allows you to enjoy a unique hydro-massage from the hot spring water; this is like being pummeled by thousands of tiny karate chops!

Pools of clear, steamy water from a remote hot spring New Mexico hikers come to for relaxing.

Water Temperature: The upper pool is the hottest with a temperature of 106°F.  The pools below are only slightly cooler.

Clothing Optional: These springs are located on U.S. National Forest land –  you may be cited by a ranger if caught bathing nude. However, many folk do bathe nude here. Chances are unlikely you will encounter a ranger, however be warned you could be cited if caught bathing nude.

Camping: There are many U.S. National Forest campgrounds within this vicinity. We stayed at Redondo Campground during one of our visits to San Antonio Hot Springs. See Spence Hot Springs above for more information on camping in this area.

Toilets: No.

Overview of San Antonio Hot Springs

This is one of our favourite natural hot springs in New Mexico; it offers a hike, beautiful scenery and plenty of relaxing pools to soak in. Hopefully the extra effort involved in getting to San Antonio Hot Springs keeps this area in a pristine natural condition.


Indian Springs in Truth or Consequences

The outside of Indian Springs Bath House in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
Indian Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM

Where: 218 Austin Street, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Phone: (575) 894-2018

Website: www.facebook.com/indianspringstorc

Price: A 30-minute, walk-in soak is $5 per person.

Hours: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, Daily

The Pools at Indian Springs

Indian Springs has 2 first come, first served soaking pools. The larger (6’x8′) holds four to six people and the smaller (4’x4′) is suitable for one or two people. We opted for the smaller pool which was perfect for the two of us. This review focuses on the smaller pool only.

Looking For a Place to Stay in Truth or Consequences?

Spend more time in this spa town and see more. This is a great area to spend a few days in so check out these Airbnb listings in Truth or Consequences and pick a place that’s perfect for you. You’ll find unique stays with plenty of comfort at a great value.  

The small, gravel bottom pool is artesian but also relies on a pump to assist in maintaining a water supply. This private room features a seating area, hooks for hanging your clothes and a clock to watch your allotted time. This 4’2″ pool provides an incredibly relaxing soak with no sulphuric smell.

Water Temperature: 104°F

A small indoor soaking pool at Indian Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Clothing Optional: Clothing is optional in both pools, however be considerate of guests in the large pool who may not be comfortable with your nudity. If you are uncomfortable with nudity, know that fellow bathers in the large pool may be naked at any time.

Lodging

Indian Springs has been in business since the 1930’s, back when this town was called Hot Springs, New Mexico. Today, the property features six lodgings, five of which feature kitchenettes. The unit without a kitchenette has its own shower. The other units contain a toilet and sink but lack showers. There is an outdoor shower for guests and all lodgers receive two free 30-minute baths per day.

Two doors leading to soaking rooms at a bathing resort in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Indian Springs. The smaller pool is the door on the right.

Overview

We enjoyed our relaxing soak at Indian Springs and meeting the wonderful staff. In the future we hope to return for another private soak and a chance to spend a few nights at this historic bathhouse while enjoying the town of Truth or Consequences.


Blackstone Hotsprings Lodgings & Baths, Truth or Consequences

An Adobe building at Blackstone Hot Spring Spa in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Where: 410 Austin Street, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Phone: (575) 894-0894

Website: www.blackstonehotsprings.com

Price: Blackstone Hotsprings offers various luxury bath experiences at different price levels. Check their website for information on walk-in rates for each of the private bathing tubs.

Hours: Daily walk-ins from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm

The Tubs at Blackstone Hotsprings Resort:

Blackstone Hotsprings offers an assortment of private luxury tubs: three outdoor soaking pools and two historic indoor baths dating from the 1930’s. The aptly named Wet Room features a large pool, a geothermal steam room with a waterfall, shower and cooling room. Towels are provided for guests.

If your budget and time allows, Blackstone Hotsprings offers quirky and individually themed accommodations. All lodgings except the Lone Ranger Room and The Bungalow offer hot spring tubs. Guests booking these rooms are granted complimentary soaks in the historic 1930’s baths.

A blue tiled bathtub with a white towel on the edge of it.

Water Temperature: The average temperature we recorded across several tubs during our visit was 106°F.

Clothing Optional: Yes

Note of Interest

As mentioned, this town was originally called Hot Springs. In 1950 the game show Truth or Consequences challenged any town in the U.S. to change it’s name to that of the show. The annual Truth or Consequences Fiesta in the Park celebrates this moment.

After a vote on March 31st, 1950 the town changed it’s name the following day on April 1st to Truth or Consequences. Rumour has it some folks in town still lament this name change and instead have their post addressed to Hot Springs, New Mexico.


Gila Hot Springs Campground Near Silver City, New Mexico

A pool filled with hot spring water a canopy overhead.

Phone: (575) 536-9944

Website: www.gilahotspringscampground.com

Directions to Gila Hot Springs Campground: This peaceful spot is approximately 40 miles north of Silver City on NM Route 15.

A sign for Gila Hot Springs Campground.

Price:

  • Day Soak $5 per person
  • Camping $6 per person, including unlimited use of the hot springs.
  • Gila Hot Springs Campground is cash only!

Hours: Day-use of the springs is limited to daylight hours only.

The Pools at Gila Hot Springs Campground

Gila Hot Springs Campground features three pools with gravel bottoms; the depth of these pools is each two feet. Seating areas within and around the pools provide a touch of comfort. In addition, two pools at Gila Hot Springs feature a shaded canopy.

You Don’t Need to Camp to Enjoy This New Mexico Hot Spring

Take your time seeing this beautiful part of the state in comfort; you’ll find great Airbnb stays in nearby Silver City to base yourself in.

The water in the pools is crystal clear and the campground is very well maintained; we witnessed the cleaning of one of the pools during our visit. Staff also monitors water temperatures throughout the day, posting the results on the notice board near the campsites.

A hot Spring pool at Gila Hot Springs Campground.

Water Temperature: 105°F

Clothing Optional: The following quote comes directly from the Gila Hot Springs Campground website:

“In order that everyone feel welcome and comfortable, suits are required in the pools. Clothing is optional after dark, provided fellow bathers are comfortable with this. We expect all guests to be respectful of others”.

Camping at Gila Hot Springs

Gila Hot Springs Campground has 12 primitive sites without hook-ups. Trash must be packed out by campers as bins aren’t provided. Potable water is available on site; look for the 140°F dragon spout, an overflow of the hot spring. Guests use this for washing dishes and making tea or coffee.

This peacefully situated campground is quite a treat; best of all these sites lie mere steps away from the pools. We camped in October, perfect for soaking at night and in the morning with an Autumn chill in the air.

A map of Gila Hot Springs Campground in New Mexico.

Toilets: Yes

Overview of Gila Hot Springs Campground

Although we only camped one night here, Gila Hot Springs Campground was a lovely spot to relax. Soaking in the pool at night while looking up at the moon, stars and towering cliffs has been one of the highlights of our visits to New Mexico hot springs.


Developed Versus Natural New Mexico Hot Springs

Essentially, hot springs are broken down into two basic formats depending upon the extent of man harnessing their properties and thus sharing or capitalising on their attributes. Natural hot springs in New Mexico feature little or no intervention from man apart from careful placement of some large stones to dam up the waters into soaking pools. Generally, these remain free and open to the public for all to enjoy.

Developed hot springs are typically referred to as spas or resorts. These independently owned places are operated on privately held land. Under the watchful eyes of their guardians the waters are monitored and maintained to keep their microbial balance in check. On-site care-takers enforce the rules and ensure a controlled operation, keeping health and safety at the forefront.

The Naked Truth

Keep in mind a few things before visiting any hot springs, more specifically those considered natural springs. Firstly, there is the “clothing optional clause”. For those uncomfortable, embarrassed or offended by nudity expect an eyeful at some hot springs. Unless explicitly posted many people come to natural hot springs in New Mexico (or anywhere) to partake in bathing au naturel.

Apparently the U.S. National Forest Service implements a policy of clothing being mandatory on its property even though you won’t find this posted at the hot springs within their jurisdiction.

I have yet to find a written dictum within the U.S. National Forest Rules and Guidelines a U.S. Forestry Service Ranger informed me they indeed have the authority to cite anyone caught bathing nude in hot springs on National Forest land.

To add to hearsay, a fellow au naturel bather told us that according to the U.S. National Forest Service it’s the bottom bits, i.e. reproductive areas, which must be covered for males and females. If anyone else can “lay bare” the real truth, I will gladly welcome clarification on the matter.

More Sensory Overload!

Often, people toking up whilst soaking up the natural surroundings is all par for the course – consider yourself warned if this idea offends you!

Temperatures

The temperatures of hot springs – natural or spa – fluctuate a few degrees daily and indeed throughout the day. All temperatures cited above reflect the time we visited and acquired readings from the respective pools. A 10-degree variance may not seem like much but is the difference between a comfortable soak or a scalding one. Exercise caution before plunging yourself into any hot springs.

Tips for Taking in the Waters

  •  Drink plenty of water. I cannot stress enough how important this is, so bring a lot of water with you. As you soak you sweat, which means you are losing fluid. Replenish these fluids before you pass out.
  •  Don’t boil yourself alive to get the full effect of the hot springs. Go for the Nordic sauna effect and temper your soaks with a cooling down period out of the water.
  •  Know your limits. If you feel woozy after getting out of the water, perhaps you should call it a day.
  •  Wear flip flops like the Teva Womens W Hurricane 4 Sport Sandal or some sort of water shoes. Occasionally an idiot breaks glass in the natural pools or leaves behind the metal casings of their tea-light candles.
  •  Hot springs are for relaxing. Do not bring soap, shampoo, shower gel etc. into the pool with the intention of having a good scrub.

We barely scratched the surface of the trove of both developed and natural New Mexico hot springs. The more we looked the more we discovered other pools to explore. Pardon the pun, but we had to pull the plug on our bathing bonanza.

Our brains and bones soon began turning to wonderfully relaxed puddles of mush. This could’ve easily become a scenario of “let’s just check out one more”, whereby we’d still be following the trail of therapeutic waters.


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woman looking over edge of natural hot spring at Autumn foliage and mountains.

rectangular pool with crystal clear water.

woman sitting in natural hot spring.

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26 Comments

  1. Thanks for the useful information on hot springs in NM. The only hot springs I’ve been to is Indian Springs in T or C and they charged us $10 for 30 minutes. Any hot springs around Las Cruces area?
    Keep up the good work,
    Roberto

    • Roberto,

      We aren’t familiar with any hot springs near Las Cruces…

      T or C has some great places to stay overnight – we like Blackstone Spa best. Indian Springs rented rooms for cheap when we passed through in 2017.

      We hope you get to visit some more New Mexico hot springs soon. Thanks for the comment – and let us know which hot spring you visit next!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  2. I didn’t even know hot springs were an option. Love this, and appreciate the tips to not boil myself alive! 🙂

  3. Tried to visit Ponce de Leon Hot Springs and encountered 2 large dogs and a Beware of Dog” sign.

    • Deanne,

      Sorry to hear about the dogs – did you make it to the springs or not ?Hope they only barked and that was the extent of it. Where along the way did you see the sign and experience the dogs?

      Depending on where you are, it’s a good idea to hike with a stick or have a few stones to throw at any animals who decide to give you a hard time.

      If you didn’t make it to the springs we hope you give it another go and have better luck – Ponce de Leon is a great spot!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  4. Hello,
    Thank you for the information on the hot springs.
    As far as nudity goes… I was a river ranger for the forest service working enforcement who has been to hot springs all around the world. Where I worked in Idaho had tons of hot springs and nudity was allowed at all of them and all over the forest and wilderness. The only time a forest will not allow nudity is if an order has been issued prohibiting an activity in an area, or on the forest as a whole. 36CFR261.58(j) is the violation code that could be posted at the trailhead to the hot spring, at the hot spring its self or certainly at the ranger stations.
    Santa Fe NF has issued an order on the ENTIRE forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/santafe/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD529767). It’s not common to see a forest wide ban in NF’s across the west but if your on forest land around big cities or conservative communities it may be a good idea to check ahead of time. Hope this answers some questions I took out my law enforcement field books as a reference to clarify.

    • EH,

      Thank you for relating your experience on this matter and including the violation code! Hopefully readers of this post can use that information to make the right decision for them. The only hot spring in this post where nudity was clearly signed and prohibited was Montezuma hot spring outside Las Vegas, New Mexico. If the rules were always so cut and dry….

      Each time we visit San Antonio hot springs we notice a mix of covered bathers and nude ones. Although it is more remote than Spence hot spring down the road, we always keep an eye out for the rangers!

      We hope to visit some hot springs in Idaho some day. Hopefully the rules are just as lax about enjoying a soak in the nip as they were in the past. Thanks again for reading and for your great comment!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  5. We are from Florida and have a nude beach on Federal land. For a while the rangers showed up and wrote tickets. A nudist group fought the tickets in Orlando.at the federal court house. The end of a long story the Judge declared that playing volly ball in the nude was not lude and lacivious behavior. The tickets were dismissed and no more hassels from anybody. The prudes stay at the south end of the beach and the nudist at the north end of the beach. So my opinion is if some body fought the nude bathing maybe they would be left alone also. I understand that there is no law against nudity on federal property. I am now headed to Jemez for some bathing.

    • Rick,

      We were never quite 100% certain about laws against nudity on federal property. Is what you say true? While researching this piece we were told we could indeed be cited – from a very friendly forest employee – if we were caught bathing naked at Spence hot springs, about 5 miles north of Jemez. They were doing trail maintenance at the time and we chatted with him as we made our way to the pools. We were told the same would apply at San Antonio hot springs – a favourite of ours – about 10 miles Northwest of Spence. We exercised caution at Spence but went nude at all the other springs featured in this post. Why not?

      Is there grey area regarding this? We’d say yes – and no. Soaking nude in a hot spring out in the forest may get less attention from the prudes than a group playing volleyball in the nude, for certain. We are very happy to hear those tickets were thrown out. Enjoy every right you have at your beach! Have a great time in Jemez and tell us what hot springs you visit!

      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  6. Christina Monk

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me! I am excited to read about all of your adventures! Stay safe and enjoy your time!!!! ❤️

    • Christina,
      You would have loved the hike into San Antonio Hot Spring! The hills around New Mexico are just as special as the hills in Maine, though sadly lacking in blueberries come mid July. Thanks so much for following along on the blog! Please Keep in touch!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  7. Jerry & Fiona!!! So enjoyed reading of your adventures & thinking of you guys..living vicariously through your trials & tribulations with Elvis II! Tonight I’ll be dreaming of white sands rather that the Maine snow that fell today. Looking forward to your next post. Safe travels my friends & happy holidays! ?❤️Bonnie, Josh, Celia, Parker & Rookie?

    • Bonnie,
      Thanks so much for checking out our blog! Thanks as well for the lovely comment! I am so happy to have found you through this wonderful world of technology Jerry and I have finally decided to join all these years later! It was great to find you again and we look forward to keeping in touch. Give our love to Josh, Celia, Parker and Rookie.
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry.

  8. Jerry and Fiona,
    As I’m reading this, I am watching the wind blow the NON STOP snow that has been falling since I got up at 6:00 am. They are calling for 15 inches. It’s 25 degrees in N.W. Pennsylvania, and your white sand looks better than what is falling!!

    Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in Mexico!
    All our best,
    Kerry and Sean

    • Kerry,
      We can certainly picture the scenario you describe after being in Maine for 14 years! Just throw another log on the fire and think about your next cross-country drive. White Sands Monument did look some type of winter wonderland, right down to the snow-plowed roads. We are very lucky to be somewhere warm this winter.
      Fiona and I wish a Merry Christmas to you and Sean, as well.
      Take care and keep warm.
      Your Drifters,
      Jerry and Fiona

  9. Fi and Jerry!!! What a wonderful adventure in good ol’ NM!! I miss you both and hope to see you on one of your adventures!

    Perhaps carrot cake at Double Rainbow for nostalgic reasons…ha! Love you both!??❤️

    • Shauni,
      It was so good to be back in New Mexico! We may even find ourselves back soon and we wish to see you then. Carrot cake sounds good; we popped in to The Flying Star on Juan Tabo for a peek around. We spent about a month in New Mexico and we STILL feel like there is so much to see, and so many people to see as well. You are #1 on the list. We cannot wait to meet your family!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

  10. You drifters should be thanked for looking under every stone and reporting the results. Tramlaw

  11. Fiona and Jerry,

    These definitely sound like a perfect place to enjoy turning yourself into mush. I loved the fact that you DID splurge the one night and slept on such a soft bed. Everyone needs a little pampering now and again.

    We were only in New Mexico for a day and night, and it was one of the few times during our trip when it wasn’t raining, drizzling, snowing or foggy.

    I hope you got to celebrate Thanksgiving somewhere enjoyable and that you will be able to Have Merry Christmas in a spectacular place.
    All our best,
    Kerry and Sean

    • Kerry,
      Hot Springs in New Mexico are amazing! The mornings were chilly and the waters were a perfect way to temper the air. There will be more hot springs waiting for us on our next visit there. We certainly hope you and Sean get to see more of the state.
      Thanks again for following along on our blog. It is always great to hear from you.
      Have a very Happy Christmas!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

      • Jerry and Fiona,

        Have a very Merry Christmas also. Enjoy the warmth. We have snow and cold in Pennsylvania!
        Best regards,
        Kerry and Sean

        • Kerry,
          We are currently in Loreto, Mexico. People are getting ready for Christmas and the shops are full of trees and decorations, but it seems strange to think of Christmas without snow or cold. Not complaining, though!
          Have a Happy Christmas as well!
          Your Drifters,
          Fiona and Jerry

  12. Donna J Scott

    Fiona, your post is very informative and interesting I’m reading it slowly and making
    notes so when I comment I can refer to the specific hot springs. The photography
    Is spectacular. Fiona you and Jerry have the knowledge and love of travel to write a number one seller.
    Like I mentioned I will read your post and enjoy doing so. Please stay safe and safe travels .
    Love you Drifters ,Donna
    .

    • Donna,
      Thanks for enjoying our photos of the hot springs. In fact, you can see more of our travel photos on Instagram. Just look on our home page and look for the Instagram box on the side of the screen.
      We intend to keep sharing our travel experiences, so keep following along.
      Thanks again for all your support!
      Your Drifters,
      Fiona and Jerry

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