Immerse yourself in healthy living!
Bliss in a hot tub
Getting into hot water, hot natural mineral springs to be specific, can be good for your health. In fact, a whole science, called balneology, is dedicated to the topic, and at this moment, perhaps millions of people around the world are saying “ahhhhh!” as they step into the curing waters.
“A gentleman who suffers from arthritis visits here every two weeks, and he swears the water is what keeps him going,” says Debbie Packard, manager of Jemez Springs Bath House in Jemez Springs. Kathleen Langlois, spokesperson for the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, agrees, saying, “Knowledge of the curative powers of mineral waters goes back to prehistoric times.”
Wendi Gelfound, Ojo’s marketing director, adds, “Many guests claim to find relief from a variety of skin conditions, muscular and skeletal ailments. We’ve also had several guests say the arsenic water provides relief from their fibromyalgia, arthritis, cramps in calves, swelling of their feet, sciatica and peripheral neuritis.”
Natural thermal springs carry highly concentrated dissolved minerals that have been leached from the earth itself. During a soak, the minerals are directly absorbed through the skin, going straight to the bloodstream and bypassing the digestive process.
Jemez Bath House regularly tests its waters, which have significant amounts of seven minerals, including sodium, which is present in a percentage equivalent to that of seawater. Salt soaks have been known to relieve symptoms of arthritis.
Jemez waters also have high levels of potassium, which normalizes heart rhythms, assists in reducing high blood pressure, eliminates body toxins and promotes healthy skin; and magnesium, which helps maintain normal heart rhythms, converts blood sugar to energy and nurtures muscle tissue and hormones.
Jemez Springs waters also have concentrations of chloride, which is believed to have musculoskeletal benefits; and iron, a building block for blood that also increases resistance to stress and disease, prevents
fatigue and promotes healthy skin tone. In addition, the water offers up quantities of manganese, which helps nourish nerves and the brain and is a catalyst in the breakdown of fats and cholesterol; and sulfate, an antiinflammatory that helps rid the body of toxins and promotes health of bone, hair, nails and fluids in joints and vertebral discs.
The sulfur-free waters at Ojo Caliente carry different minerals in different pools, so one can target specific ailments or just pool hop to get a full range of benefits. There are springs with high levels of iron and springs with lithium to relieve depression and aid digestion. Other springs have soda carbonate to assist the digestive and nervous systems and arsenic for relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers and skin conditions.
Ojo also has a therapeutic mudding area where guests can coat themselves in special clay reputed to remove toxins and dead skin cells as it dries.
New Mexico’s many hot natural mineral springs range from the glitzy and posh to the rough and outdoorsy, with many perfect for a day visit near Santa Fe:
Commercial bathhouses Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa
505-583-2233, www.ojospa.com In the town of Ojo Caliente, 50 miles northwest of Santa Fe via US 285/84 to Taos, then New Mexico 414 to Ojo Caliente Open daily. Reservations are recommended. Bathing suits required.
Jemez Springs Bath House
575829-3303 www.jemezsprings.org/bathhouse.html Located in Jemez Springs, an 86-mile trip from Santa Fe via Interstate 25 South, US 550 north and New Mexico 4 East. Open daily. Clothing optional.
575-829-9175, www.gigglingsprings.com Located in Jemez Springs. Bathing suits required. Reservations strongly recommended.
Hot springs in the Jemez Mountains
Because of the possible existence of water-borne pathogens, it is suggested that you not ingest any of the water in these natural springs or dunk your head.
Forest Service regulations call for bathing suits, but this is often ignored. All of these springs are free. Contact the Jemez Ranger District at 575-829-3065.
Spence Hot Springs
Located seven miles north of Jemez Springs just off New Mexico 4, at milepost 24.5, between Dark Canyon and Rincon day use areas.
McCauley Warm Springs
Accessible from either Battleship Rock, five miles north of Jemez Springs on New Mexico 4 at milepost 23, or from Jemez Falls Campground.
San Antonio Hot Springs
This requires a 10-mile round trip hike to a series of hillside pools in San Diego Canyon near Jemez Springs.
Isabel Gibson relaxes and soaks up the curative powers of the San Antonio hot springs in the Jemez Mountains.
Isabel is a fan of the natural spring pools at San Antonio, hand-built with rocks by thermal aficionados.