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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Montezuma Hotsprings







Six miles northwest of Las Vegas, the warm, healing, mineral-charged pools of Montezuma Hot Springs are one of Mother Nature’s myriad blessings found in northern New Mexico.


Three hundred years ago, the Apache ran these lands. They caught rabbits in brush skirting the forest and collected prized piƱon. When their warriors found themselves slashed with wounds of life and war, they laid down weapon and suspicion and pressed body into ground along the banks of what would one day be called the Rio Gallinas. Healing waters bubbled around them – geothermal hot springs filled with lithium and sulphur. The Apache filled their injuries with the warm silt that rose to the surface of the lands. In order not to offend the Great Spirit and risk losing this gift of healing, the area around the springs was considered an area of peace. No fighting took place in the immediate area, no game was hunted. The Apache consecrated the springs and surrounding areas as sacred ground.


 
The site was initially commercialized in 1840, when a man named McDonald petitioned the Mexican government for the land, and was granted it on the condition he became a Mexican citizen. He built a simple wooden house by the hot springs, and charged admission. In 1846, after the territory of New Mexico was conquered by the U.S. Army and seized from Mexico, a military hospital was established near the waters. Converted into a hotel in 1862, and replaced by a stone building in 1879, the Old Stone Hotel – the administrative center of the United World College – still watches over the hot springs. Jesse James and Billy the Kid threw cards in an old adobe near here, and spent an evening or two together, soaking up precious minerals in the rejuvenating waters.
Centuries ago, native warriors healed their wounds in these springs after battle.

 It’s said that Jesse James and Billy the Kid probably spent an evening or two relaxing after hours of throwing cards in an old adobe nearby.“Even imaginary ailments give way before forces so potent for good.Today the bubbling springs are captured in open-air cement pools that still remain long after the closing of the Montezuma Hotel. The Hotel, in eyeshot of the pools, now serves as the administration building of the United World College USA. It’s a beautiful setting, as the springs lie along the Gallinas River and are adjacent to several historic buildings.Today, visitors no longer need to lie on hot water soaked ground to enjoy the springs’ soothing properties.

 Over the years a rag tag collection of pools have been built, each with a distinct personality. Ranging from the beloved “Lobster Pot” – a scalding hot circular stone pool of 120 degrees – to an earth-lined large natural pool of 102.7 degrees called “Africa” because of its recognizable shape.Try the lower pools and work your way up. The pools are not really deep, most only a few feet deep. I’ll start this by saying, this is one of very few hot springs I know of that is both open to the public and easily accessible. The baths themselves are simple and relaxing. If you are looking for sophistication or giant pools, this isn't for you. 


If you don't mind sharing a steaming cauldron of mineral water with total strangers, it isn't bad.This is a great place to relax, enjoy the mountains, and conversation or be lost in your own thoughts. I once met a dentist, and he had his ear piece on, when we had a conversation he let me listen to his music, he was listening to an Apache music while soaking in the spring. It was so soothing. 

Situated only a few yards away from the the shoulder of the highway, and the only parking is along highway 65, but the traffic is light. The springs are approximately east, north east of the road, placing them between the highway and the college off in the distance. Parking is free but lock your doors just to be on the safe side. 


Although located on private property, United World College allows free public access to the springs, maintains regulations for using the tubs, and they are regularly cleaned up.  Bathing suits are required.
Several small soaking pools, range from very hot to warm, in addition to larger rock pools christened the “lobster pot” (a very hot 120°), and “Africa” (102.7°) for its familiar shape.



There are no facilities,  there are no bathrooms to change in so your car will have to do or you can wear your swimsuit from home, (for the ladies). There are paths and some walkways but you are advised to wear some flip-flops.




 You can heat yourself in the springs then dunk yourself in Gallinas Creek, which is just down the hill. If your body is heated up, the chill of the creek is refreshing but not jarring.  I usually choose which one I want to soak in, then relax and  enjoy the natural massage it gives me.


There are no restaurants close by, sometimes I take snacks along, but leave them in the car and eat after a good long soak. You can bring your kids, but it is advisable to keep an eye on them at all times.
Come with reasonable amount of water to drink, as to prevent dehydration.  
A trip to Montezuma hot springs includes, map( if you don’t know your way), flip-flops and extra towels.  

Don't drink the water unless you want to experience what a local calls "The Real Montezuma's Revenge".


I enjoy soaking in a pool of warm water so this was a great place I always look forward to visiting during the weekends, or weekdays. 
 All pools are free of charge and open from dawn to dusk, the site remains pristine, natural, calm. Visitors to Las Vegas New Mexico can enjoy the best of all local worlds. Sometimes we are lucky to have a pool to ourselves, and sometimes we share with others and make new friends, have great conversation, and enjoy the gentle massage of this mineral water. It is so relaxing and feels so good on the skin.

After a good soak, we drive back home, my body saturated, content and ready to return for another soak. You should definitely visit, you will always want to return. If you are ever around New Mexico and you are looking for a place to relax and reminisce, this is the place. 

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