Road Trip 2008 - Day Seven: Taos - Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs

Well, one things we learned quickly was that the Native Taosians love their roads au naturale, as in unpaved and bumpy no matter how steep or dangerous. We found this out the hard way on what was supposed to be a short relaxing drive to the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs for a day of massages and relaxation.

We took what appeared to be the shortest route, that of "Highway" 567, which cuts across the Rio Grande south of Taos and heads due west toward the Springs. I put highway in quotes because while it is marked as such on maps, it is in fact nothing but a small, narrow, bumpy gravel road which switchbacks up the sheer cliffs of the Rio Grande. I referred to the drive from Colorado to Taos as "white-knuckled and scenic". This, however, was solely white-knuckled as my poor little Honda, even in its lowest gears, barely chugged up the steep inclines we found ourselves on. At one point as we faced a very sharp bend followed by an exceptionally steep climb, I confessed to Edie that I was more than willing to "turn back" (as if that were even possible). She thought it wise to press on and so we did, eventually reaching the top of the cliff. We were both hoping that the mineral springs exceeded their reputation for healing and relaxation, as we both were rather pale and wide-eyed from the drive. I've added some images of the so-called "highway" 567 below.

The Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs has been a popular gathering spot for nearly 1000 years. First used by the Native American Tewa tribes, it later became a favorite location for the Spaniards in the 1500s. In 1886 a sanitarium was constructed and the spa became nationally renowned for its healing waters. Today it consists of 10 pools each with differing types of minerals and ranging in temperature from 80 to 104 degrees. Some are located in rock-hewn grottos while others are expansive outdoor pools. The variety of pools include: The Lithium Spring, the Iron Spring, the Soda Spring, the Arsenic Spring and the Mud Pool.

This was indeed a very relaxing spot and we made as much use of the various springs as time allowed us. Edie and I also got massages at the spa complex and then sat under a star-filled sky in our own private hot spring and kiva fireplace. Very romantic!

From Taos to Ojo Caliente:

Dirt Road to the Precipice (aka "Highway" 567):

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs:

Onward to Day Eight: Taos - Rio Grande Whitewater Rafting

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