OJO CALIENTE MINERAL SPRINGS
It is a place some removed from the mainstream and is not glitzy and does not cater to the jet set, unless the jet set lands at airports far away from here and drives in. The buildings are old and fit any definition of rustic and are comfortable. The Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs is where you come to get yourself in "hot water."
Jerry Mauro is the general manager. "This is our iron pool. It's one of the most popular pools. It's where it actually has a sandy bottom and the water comes right out of the ground here at this pool.")
It comes out of the ground here at about 108 degrees. In the winter you're wise to really hustle from pool to pool because the air temperature on this day was a dramatic 90 degrees colder. The water in the soda pool is 103 degrees and so foggy we're not really sure who's in here. I think that's Betty, we'll see her later over in the arsenic tub. People have been coming to Ojo Caliente for a long time...
"And as legend has it,” Jerry says, ‘this used to be a sacred area. There were paths leading to these waters. They called it the spokes of the wheels..."
Legend has it you had to lay down your weapons when you came to the pools and no matter what wars were being fought away from here...HERE there was peace. After Betty-who-was-in-the-fog finishes in the soda pool she comes in here for an arsenic bath. Despite the name, it's supposed to be very curative. Betty, you look serene...
Betty is serene. "I'm just kinda' melted into the water."
The springs have been in the Mauro family for generations. Jerry's dad, like many who come here, is convinced of the water's curative powers...
"I said, oh, yeah, sure dad. But now that I've been living here more and actually been witnessing what goes on here, you know, I think one of these days we will be able to make those claims. That it actually does cure you of certain things because it's just really miraculous what the waters do."
Cured or not, floating in these hot springs does bring on a sense of well-being that may psychologically cure you of a lot of things. To completely iron out the kinks you can get a massage or...and if this doesn't cure something, nothing will...Connie is getting a seaweed facial biowrap...
Adrienne Bremness is the therapist. "The seaweed's very nourishing. Full of vitamins and minerals and it's very nourishing to the skin. And this is a seaweed mask."
"It's tightening up. I feel my skin tighter," Connie says.
We didn't stay to see what Connie looked like when the seaweed came off.
Winter is a good time to come here, it's not crowded and reservations probably aren’t needed like they are in May through September. Lodging in the main building and in the older cabins are comfortable...but minimal...no phones and no showers or bath tubs in the bathroom...you shower over in the hot springs area.
There is a very comfortable lack of pretension here. The buildings are old and solid, the air is sharp and clear, you have to hunt to find a phone, and the nearest bar is 25 miles away. It is a restful and healthful place.
From Santa Fe, NM, get on 285 up to Espanola. Cross the Rio Grande onto highway 84 north to Chama. In a few miles you'll see the turnoff to the right for 285 again. Stay on 285 to the little town of Ojo Caliente and follow the signs to the spa.
For reservations, lodging and spa treatments call: 1-800-222-9162 or 505-583-2233.
Mailing Address: PO Box 68, Ojo Caliente, NM 87549 USA
They have a website: www.ojocalientespa.com
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