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Ojo Caliente: An Oasis in the Desert

Visit Ojo Caliente in Northern New Mexico and expect to leave refreshed, rejuvinated, and totally relaxed. It's the perfect place to reset.
Visit Ojo Caliente in Northern New Mexico and expect to leave refreshed, rejuvinated, and totally relaxed. It's the perfect place to reset.

Where do you go when you need to get away from it all? If Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Resort isn’t on your list, you need to put it there ASAP.

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We spent two nights at Ojo last month, and our stress practically melted away the moment we stepped foot in this magical oasis.

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Seriously, it felt like a second honeymoon.

After 10 years of marriage, and countless deployments, I can honestly say that this was one of the best times I’ve spent with my husband.

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We must’ve said, “This is amazing,” about a hundred times.

If you need a place that’s secluded, romantic, and so freaking good for your souls and relationship, Ojo Caliente is absolutely, the perfect getaway.

Why we Picked Ojo Caliente

We wanted to spend some time together without the kids while he was home for R&R, so we toyed around with either going Ojo Caliente in New Mexico, or spending NYE in Las Vegas.

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We (okay, I) actually picked Vegas first, but making reservations for all the things (plane tickets, a rental car, and then finding an actual place to stay) started stressing me out big time.

Planning a trip for just the two of us for a little “rest and relaxation” time started making my head spin.

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Ojo Caliente—a hot spring resort just two hours north of Albuquerque (and one hour away from Santa Fe), started sounding like paradise.

I was hesitant, because I didn’t want us to be too bored (ha! Boredom never crossed our minds), and I didn’t want it to be too cold since we were going in the middle of winter. (It was freezing, but that’s what the hot springs were for.)

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In the end, it ended up being roughly the same price for Ojo (we splurged on an expensive, fancy schmancy room) than it would’ve been for a trip to Vegas, but with 100% less stress.

What’s so special about the water?

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Granted, I’ve never been to a hot springs resort before, but Ojo Caliente claims its legendary natural healing effects is through its sulphur-free, geothermal mineral waters.

Long story short: the waters can help with things like arthritis, digestive issues, and more.

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Curious how it works? Rainwater collects in aquifers underground, then, because of the volcanic pressure (i.e. it’s really hot down there), thousands of gallons of heated water “spring” back up through different rocks and soils.

Ojo’s claim to fame is that it’s the only hot springs in the world to have four different types of mineral water: lithium, sodium, iron, arsenic, and soda.

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There are a dozen different pools at the resort to soak in, filled with a variety of those mineral waters.

You can even slather yourself in mud and reap those benefits, too. *It was too cold for the mud while we were there.

What to Do at Ojo Caliente

So my number one “fear” was that we’d be bored, since we’d just sit in a hot tub/pool all day. Thankfully, I was wrong.

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I mean, we technically did just sit in pools all day, but it was so much better than I anticipated.

We went to Ojo with the sole purpose of slowing down, relaxing, and just enjoying each other’s company, and that’s exactly what we did.

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There was no cell service (so no calls in/out), but there was wifi; I loved disconnecting for a little bit.

Also, there’s a designated “whisper zone” almost everywhere. Talk about a welcome break when you’re around three very chatty kids, or the sound of war, all day, every day.

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The hot springs are an absolute must, so that’s what you’ll mostly be doing while you’re there (and you’ll love it), but you can also take advantage of a few of their other activities, like yoga, bird watching (if that’s your thing), gardening (in the warmer months), star gazing (even better if you have your own private outdoor tub), biking, hiking, and of course, the spa on site.

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My husband went on a hike while I treated myself to the Ancient Echos spa treatment. The massage was sublime.

Pro tip: there’s a wet sauna/steam room in the Bathhouse, which is also where you check in for your spa treatments. Y’all, it’s filled with mint essential oils, and it was delightful. Plan to spend some time in there before or after your massage!

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He finished his hike around the property just about the time I walked out of my thing, so it was a nice way for both of us to do something.

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When we weren’t soaking in the hot springs or doing our own thing, we relaxed by the fire. I actually read an entire book during our stay there, and my husband played a computer game that he hasn’t had time to play in months.

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If all else fails and you’re truly, actually bored, Santa Fe and Taos are both an hour away.

Where We Stayed

Y’all, I’ve decided that if we ever build our own home, I want to model our master suite after the Posi Suite where we stayed at Ojo Caliente.

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It was modern, spacious, and comfortable. The wood beams overhead made the concrete walls and floor feel warm and inviting, and the kiva fireplace in the corner tied the whole room together.

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If it’s wrong to love a bathroom and shower, then I don’t want to be right.

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They were what ensuites dreams are made of: simple and classic, but luxurious.

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But the real gem of the Posi Suite? Our own private outdoor hot mineral soaking pool. Just thinking about that pool again brings instant serenity.

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Not only can you take a dip au naturale (if that’s your thing), but you can soak whenever you want. We’d head out there first thing in the morning, and again in the afternoon, but our favorite time was after dinner when it was pitch black outside.

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We gazed at the stars—you could see the milky way and dozens (hundreds? thousands) of constellations)—and we enjoyed our time together; we reflected on the past, talked about the future, and laughed at things in the present.

There was nowhere to be, and nothing to do but relax.

We paid $399/night for the Posi Suite. The Cliffside Suites also have a private outdoor pool, but it’s a fill-and-drain soaking tub starting at $349/night (I’d splurge the extra $50 and get the one that’s full all the time.)

What to Bring

I’m so thankful friends and family shared some ideas on things we needed to take with us, because they were lifesavers!

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  • Flip flops
  • Swim suites
    • If you plan on getting in and out of the pool bring at least two swim suites. Nobody likes putting a cold/wet suit back on!
  • Water/water bottles
    • No glass is allowed in the springs area.
    • There are a couple water refill stations, but you want to stay really hydrated out there, so bring plenty to refill on your own. We brought a few large water bottles, and kept them in our mini fridge
  • Snacks/breakfast/lunch
    • We saved some money (more on that next), by bringing some of our own food.
  • Beanie/jacket/cold-weather attire
  • Sunscreen
    • must be oil free (sold in their small gift shop)
  • Extra (large) towel
    • the towels they provide are normal-sized, so if you like to cozy up and really wrap up in a towel, bring your own
    • If you’re a guest at Ojo Caliente your room will have complimentary robes and slippers to use during your stay.

Where/What to Eat

In an effort to save a little money, we brought some food and wine with us.

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For breakfast for one morning we ate breakfast burritos since our room had a fridge and a microwave. I loved that we didn’t have to go out in the cold to have breakfast.

We also brought all the necessities for a little charcuterie board for lunch (which doubled great as snacks later in the day, too).

The Artisan Restaurant at Ojo Caliente

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To be completely honest, I read reviews about the one restaurant on site, the Artisan Restaurant, and I wasn’t expecting much. The reviews were just mediocre, which disappointed me.

Thankfully, I think those comments were totally wrong; we both thought the food was fantastic. Everything we got was perfectly cooked, with excellent flavor.

I usually like to try new things if we’re only there for a short time, but their pasta pomodoro (with grilled shrimp) was so good the first night that I got it again the second night.

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My husband got their lamb chops on night one, and HOLY MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB, it was amazing. The next night he had steak, which was outstanding as well.

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Oh, and their appetizers! There were three to choose from, and we tried two. The fried chile was really tasty, and if you’re not local to NM, I highly suggest trying them. The sauce that comes with it just the right amount of sweet and sour to go with the peppers.

The other appetizer was surprisingly great, and if we go again I’ll totally get that as my main meal along with a salad. It was mussels with chorizo. I’ve never had that combo before, but hot dang, it was so tasty!

When to Visit

We stayed at Ojo Caliente in the dead of winter, in between Christmas and the new year, and the temp outside never rose above freezing.

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Call me crazy, but it was perfect. The hot waters (average of 102º when we were there) warmed us up, and kept our body temp warm even after we got out of the pool(s).

As we soaked we chatted about other great times to visit, and we think spring and fall would be spectacular, too. It’s not too hot or too cold out then, so the temperature all around would be perfect.

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Summertime personally makes me a little nervous since I don’t like being hot, so I can’t imagine a high temperature outside the water along with the actual hot springs temp.

But you do you; if you can take the heat, then go for it.

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One perk to visiting in the winter is that it got dark so early. We soaked in our personal pool and star gazed right after dinner. Then we went to bed at a reasonable time (spoken like parents of three young kids, right?).

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We also decided that two nights there was the perfect amount of time. It was enough to enjoy the place without overstaying our welcome. If we only stayed for one night, I would’ve longed for one more, so two nights is the sweet spot.

When will you visit Ojo Caliente?

Visit Ojo Caliente in Northern New Mexico and expect to leave refreshed, rejuvinated, and totally relaxed. It's the perfect place to reset.

I have no idea if we’ll ever return to Ojo Caliente, but I’m so thankful for visiting during this stage in our lives. We both needed it more than we realized.

What about you? Have you been there? Do you need a little Ojo Caliente in your life?

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