Northern New Mexico’s Ojo Santa Fe and Ojo Caliente are as authentic, and unique, as you’ll find on the planet.
Tucked away in northern New Mexico in an area that isn’t remote enough to qualify for, ‘you-can’t-get-there-from-here’ status, but is just remote enough to not experience a lot of spontaneous, drop-in visitors are two distinct Ojo Spa Resorts.
Ojo Santa Fe, as the name suggests, is located in the state’s capital city, but tucked privately away on sacred ground that was once a gathering place for Pueblo natives and Spanish tradesmen. They used the natural spring waters to rest, enjoy a respite from their travel and trade in the spring-fed, thermal pools, and offer ceremonies of thanks and continued blessings. A short distance northwest is Ojo Caliente, which is the only hot spring resort on Earth with four separate kinds of natural mineral waters including arsenic, iron, lithia and soda.
People have been traveling to both locations for centuries for the healing and soothing powers of the waters and you feel it almost immediately as you enter both properties.
Walking on Sacred Grounds
The Ojo Spa Resorts are not your run-of-the-mill ‘Spa Day’ experience with parties giggling over glasses of wine and taking selfies along the way. These are not properties that envelope you in an artificial, signature scent pumped throughout the interiors. You won’t find attendants carrying trays of food and libations, nor will you see towel huts or be expected to pay additional fees for parking, etc. When you go to Ojo, you’ll be walking on sacred grounds, you’ll be soaking in pristine waters, and you’ll be encouraged to whisper.
Both properties honor their “on the edge of something wild” spirit, and there is a large serving of mindfulness that is impossible to escape. And why would you want to? These are destinations where a person staring down at a cell phone stands out like a palm tree in Vermont.
Ojo Santa Fe
Ojo Santa Fe offers an upscale, casual experience on 77 acres of land that abuts more land for hiking and exploring. It offers a rustic refined experience which means you can enjoy luxury accommodations and exquisite cuisine prepared by renowned chef Carmen Rodriquez, without the hustle and bustle and a ‘keep up with the Joneses’ vibe that oddly, many spas have. If you’re looking for pretentiousness, keep driving – puppies on the other hand, well, you have to see it to believe it.
Therapy with Puppy Patch Play
Based on one ambitious, kind-hearted employee’s dream, Ojo Santa Fe offers one of the only Puppy Patches in the nation. With the understanding that puppy love and playing with animals can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and even help with chronic pain, the property partners with Española Humane to foster rescue puppies. Guests are welcome to visit the Puppy Patch at designated hours. Every puppy is healthy, socialized, and available for adoption. To date, the Ojo Santa Fe Puppy Patch has placed 100% of the puppies in forever homes.
Approximately 50 miles north, Ojo Caliente does not offer puppy love but, like their sister property, offers a wide range of soaking and spa experiences along with activities that include yoga and hiking. Ojo Caliente is located on just 22 acres which makes for a more intimate feeling, yet is surrounded by 22 miles of open BLM land available for hiking, mountain biking and discovery.
The property was first established in 1868 and, despite a devastating fire in 2020, the property still maintains some of the original buildings. Ojo Caliente is owned by the Scott family who not only maintain the authentic character but also revere the sacred land and have refused to sell to large corporations who want to capitalize on one of the most unique mineral spas in the world.
Much like the Greek mythology phoenix that rose from the ashes to be reborn, the fire that destroyed some of the property at Ojo Caliente has given the property its own opportunity to be reborn. The owners have painstakingly adhered to the highest standards as they have revitalized the property to preserve its historical integrity while incorporating features that include a new spa building with sauna and steam rooms, bath house and locker room facilities, a new foot soak section, among other amenities all keeping within the refined, rustic reverence for the land.
Ojo Caliente offers perhaps an even quieter experience where there are private soaking areas with aromatic piñon-burning kiva fireplaces. The Whisper Zone is enforced but isn’t always necessary as most guests appear to willingly relinquish the chatter and distractions and embrace the healing waters. A pleasant walk through the camping area near the rustling waters of the Rio Chama, you’ll come to the Round Barn, which, along with the property, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Both Ojo properties offer an array of spa treatments and are open to both day and overnight visitors. In both locations, overnight guests have access to the mineral pools and natural waters for extended times, which means a private sunrise soak or a soak beneath the dark, bright New Mexico skies is not to be missed.
Each property has their own personality. You’ll find a Medicine Wheel path in Ojo Santa Fe and two labyrinths in Ojo Caliente. Ojo Santa Fe, is slightly more refined with a sommelier on staff in the restaurant, and Ojo Caliente is slightly more remote. Both properties welcome guests to sit, soak, walk, dine, and relax in their robes which adds to the air of healing, mindful respite. Whether you want a hotel-like room or suite with private soaking pool, a separate cabin, an Air Stream camping experiencing, or to be in your own camper or tent, the properties will no doubt meet expectations for overnight guests.
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Cover photo courtesy Ojo Resort Properties
Haven Lindsey resides in Taos, NM. She is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience writing on topics including healthcare, addiction, public policy, education, travel, food and human interest. She was also recognized by NPR for her solo travel series exclusive to Texas Lifestyle Magazine. Haven is working on her second book, a follow up to, ‘The Blue Dog and The White Horse Adventures on A Texas Ranch’, a children’s book about the friendship between her dog and a horse.