Southwest New Mexico is home to dozens of mineral-rich hot springs and at this time of the year, when holiday celebrations are becoming just memories and the cold winter weather is settling in, there is nothing like a dip in one to shake off the January chills.
At La Paloma Real Estate, the properties we list in the Mimbres area are just down the road from the Gila National Forest and its beautiful public hot springs. In fact, there is even one south of town called the Mimbres Hot Spring. While thousands of out-of-state tourists travel to southwestern New Mexico each year to enjoy the hot springs, imagine being able to visit one whenever you like! That’s one of the luxuries of being a resident of Grant County.
What is a Hot Spring?
Before I take you on a guided tour of some of the Southwest’s finest hot springs, let’s first go over what they even are, because it’s not as straightforward as you might think. Hot spring refers to a spring(the point where groundwater breaks through to the surface) that has become heated. Okay, that part is probably pretty obvious but unless you’re a real geology nerd I bet you didn’t know the water is heated by passing close to either the earth’s mantle or volcanic magma.
In the case of southwestern New Mexico; 25 million years ago the area was shaped by volcanic activity. While the volcanoes have long since been dormant, their magma chambers are still hot. Groundwater passes close to these chambers, becomes heated and then surges to the surface. Think about that for a second! Spring water, heated by 25 million-year-old volcanoes!
Hot springs can be different temperatures, some are even close to boiling and need to be diluted with cold water before they’re safe to bathe in. They are also called mineral springs because the water holds a much higher percentage of dissolved minerals. These minerals differ from region to region and can be as common as calcium or more exotic like lithium, silver, and gold. It is this abundance of minerals that have led some to believe there are medicinal benefits to bathing in the water.
The Hot Springs of Southwestern New Mexico
New Mexico’s hot springs are mostly found in two regions, the north and in the southwest, near the Gila National Forest.
At La Paloma Real Estate we love every corner of this great state, but we especially love to talk local, so I’m going to focus on the hot springs close to Mimbres, the ones our clients would be able to easily visit for a day trip.
Residents of Grant County have access to both public hot springs, like the many found within the Gila National Forest as well as springs on private property. Privately owned hot springs are often operated as spas or resorts and for a very reasonable fee visitors can enjoy them for an hour, a day or for an overnight extended stay.
Public Hot Springs
Often located in more remote areas and requiring at least some hiking to reach, public hot springs can be difficult to find. The advice “ask a local for directions” is pretty common for websites offering directions. However, the hot springs in the Gila National Forest are well documented and easy to find. Since these are not necessarily supervised, the culture surrounding them has adopted a clothing optional stance.
Just because these hot springs are more remote, don’t assume they will be secluded or yours’ to enjoy alone. Like I said at the beginning, thousands of people visit hot springs across New Mexico every year so there is a good chance you will be sharing your experience with other visitors. Hopefully, you and your new acquaintances share a similar stance on the clothing optional rule.
Little Feather Hot Springs
Located inside the Gila National Forest and a relatively easy 30-minute hike from the visitors center this hot spring would be a good introduction to public hot springs. The water comes out hot, 130° F to 140° F and flows down to join the cooler waters of the Gila River. River water can be rerouted into pools of spring water so that the temperature is more moderate.
Jordan Hot Springs
If you are a more seasoned hiker the Jordan Hot Spring might be more your flavor. It’s about an 8-mile hike (one way) from the visitor center in the Gila National Forest and involves more than 30 river crossings. The water is cooler at Jordan than it is at Little Feather, reaching just over 90°F and gathers in a pool that is about 20 feet across and 3 feet deep.
Turkey Creek Hot Springs
Our last stop in the Gila National Forest is the Turkey Creek Hot Springs. Difficult to reach and with an extremely hot spring, 160°F, this adventure is best left to the truly experienced. The hot spring water seeps up through cracks in the bottom of the creek bed creating a truly unique bathing experience.
This list does not represent all of the public hot springs by any means, it is just the more frequented hot springs in our area. Do you have a secret hot spring you wouldn’t mind sharing with us? Add a description in the comments below or send us an email.
Private Hot Springs
So you don’t feel like spending part of your day hiking through the wilderness to sit with strangers in a creek? That’s okay, rustic and remote public hot springs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dip in some hot mineral water, just that private springs are probably more your preference.
Private hot springs are just what you might imagine, spas, resorts, and bathhouses. They range from rustic and quaint to charming and sophisticated. Some require reservations and swimwear while others are more relaxed on all of their policies, swimwear included. To avoid any surprises it is best to call ahead and get all the details.
Surrounded by the Gila Wilderness and situated on the doorstep of the Gila Cave Dwellings the Gila Hot Springs Campground offers three, outdoor, gravel bottom pools for soaking. The temperatures of the pools range from 147°F to 154°F.
With one, large outdoor hot pool and three smaller adjacent hot pools of varying temperatures, Wildwood offers a soaking experience to match everyone’s preferences. The Gila Wilderness will be your backdrop as you relax in the mineral water.
A larger facility, Faywood Hot Springs offers 13 spring fed pools and two hot tubs. The pools are categorized by public or private and clothing-required or clothing-optional. Each pool has its own character and benefits, some are even situated for ideal stargazing during a nighttime soak.
Truth and Consequences
Although it is a little outside our real estate jurisdiction, I can’t talk about hot springs in southwestern New Mexico without mentioning the town of Truth or Consequences. Before 1950 the town was actually named Hot Springs! Truth or Consequences is home to 10 bathhouses, which make up the Hot Springs Historic District. Every May the town hosts a Hot Springs Festival. It’s estimated that about 99 liters flow through the Truth or Consequences hot springs complex every single second! T or C is a very interesting little town, worthy of an entire article itself and if you’re interested in more information about it check out New Mexico True’s page.
The hot springs of southwestern New Mexico have fascinated tourists and residents for generations. A culture has sprung up from the springs. They are believed by many to have medicinal properties and are unquestionably a source of relaxation for all who take a dip. While everyone should experience the springs at some point in their life imagine the luxury of living a short drive or pleasant hike away from a hot mineral spring. Be sure to visit the hot springs but don’t be surprised if you love them so much you decide to move to the Southwest.