Seeking soothing soaks beyond the city limits, I’ve traveled to some swanky spas across New Mexico. In a follow-up to my adventures chronicled in the November article “Rub a Dub Dub,” I found hot soaks for crisp afternoons in Santa Fe and beyond.
Ojo Caliente is a grand experience. The large spa located between Santa Fe and Taos is tucked into a cliffside. Getting there is half the fun. I drove north from Santa Fe and was lucky enough to make a wrong turn that took me up Route 68 along the Rio Grande past lots of wineries and funky galleries.
When I arrived, poolside hammocks and resort loungers sat empty in the chill of the winter air. Soaking pools have different compositions—iron, arsenic, lithia or soda—intended to soothe ailments. While minerally complex, the water doesn’t flow as hot as some of the other springs around, so Ojo might be better left for summertime adventures.
Pools require bathing suits, and you can generally expect to be among other bathers no matter where you go. Weekday general admission is about $18 per person. Weekends and holidays are $28. There’s a weekend hustle and bustle here that makes reserving a private kiva pool a desirable amenity: Prices for those start at $40 for two people for one hour. For $10 more, you can add a fireplace.
The town formerly known as Hot Springs still has artesian mineral water coursing through its veins.
There are a variety of places to stay in T or C. Majestic outdoor pools for soaking reside next to the Rio Grande at Riverbend Hotsprings (riverbendhotsprings.com). The kitschy, modern Blackstone Hotsprings (blackstonehotsprings.com) boasts indoor tubs.
For a truly retro experience, La Paloma (lapalomahotspringsandspa.com) offers private, pebble-bottom tubs. Rooms can be on the funky side (I failed to notice mine required a trip to the bathhouse for a shower). But they generally come equipped with a microwave and fridge—handy for keeping a six pack cold between soaks.
Truth or Consequences is also the hopping-off point for Elephant Butte State Park. The lake is a 15-minute drive from downtown and a great place to watch the sunset.
Beauty, nonchalance and Japanese onsen authenticity make Ten Thousand Waves an ethereal place. The luxury spa north of Santa Fe offers a surprisingly laid-back experience that includes a koi pond, a cozy bench with a foot bath, and a relaxation room with floor mats and meditative music on headphones.
Lush grounds give day visitors the opportunity to maximize Zen on a budget. A soak in the communal tub is $23.45, and for a more private experience, premium baths can be booked in advance for a few bucks more. The “super premium” bath comes in the form of a giant slate tub, with Japanese-style sit-down showers and a temperature-controlled daybed.
But my favorite is the modest Kobuta, a private sunken teak tub nestled in the forest. It’s best enjoyed on a cool mountain night with snowflakes melting on your steamy skin. The only bad thing about Ten Thousand Waves: Eventually, you have to leave.
Elizabeth W. Hughes
“Transparent Things ” • Fujiya and Miyagi • Transparent Things
“Hazy Shade of Winter” • The Bangles • The Bangles Greatest Hits
“Elephant Ghost” • Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains • The Big Eyeball in the Sky
“Til the Morning Comes” • The Grateful Dead • American Beauty
Elizabeth W. Hughes can usually be found speeding away from Albuquerque with her dog, Dixie Belle, windows down, music up, in search of hot springs, cold beer or both.