This Thermal Water Park In Mexico's Mountains Is A Natural Wonder You'll Never Forget

Nestled deep within the Hidalgo Mountain Range of central Mexico is a hidden sanctuary, fed by underground thermal hot springs. The Grutas Tolantongo hot springs are a sensational geothermal oasis, with more than a dozen heated pools chiseled into the side of a limestone cliff. Located in the municipality of Cardonal in San Cristobal, the rural topography is balanced by a beautiful backdrop of lush vegetation, magnificent towering bluffs, and gently flowing streams of water. The high mineral content that's found in the thermal waters has a pigmentation effect that tints the pools with a stunning turquoise color. 

The natural thermal park is an aquatic playground characterized by heated infinity pools, cascading waterfalls, flowing rivers, steam tunnels, and even a suspension bridge overlooking the plummeting canyons. Roughly a three-and-a-half-hour journey from Mexico City, it's a trip best undertaken during daylight hours as parts of the winding unpaved road can be dangerous to drive under the cloak of darkness. The perfect destination in all seasons, water temperatures in the Grutas Tolantongo hot springs hover at an average of 96 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Weekdays are the best time to visit the park, as weekends tend to beckon crowds to the pool's edge. An on-site hotel features rooms conveniently placed in various sections of the park with budget-friendly accommodation rates beginning at just $60 a night. The photogenic thermal pools, waterfalls, and river are the epitome of an exotic remote jungle experience — one that shouldn't be missed on your next trip to Mexico!

An abundance of thermal pools, waterfalls, and lazy rivers

The Las Pozas pools are the star of the show at Grutas Tolantongo, with their cliff-side position overlooking the gorgeous surrounding landscape. Located in the upper region of the park, guests are greeted by panoramic views of the flowering canyons below, and the uppermost pools are sheltered from the sun by a canopy of lush trees and vegetation. A suspension bridge stretches across the canyon, uniting the various regions of the park. Below the pools is a winding maze of steam tunnels, fed by natural spring water that flows from the thermal pools and replicates a sauna-like experience. The combination of steam and thermal water inside the caves cultivates warmer, more extreme temperatures. Aquatic shoes and a water-safe flashlight are recommended for exploring the caves in-depth, as the maze of twists and turns make it difficult to navigate the tunnels in darkness.

A short distance from the grotto pools is the Tolantongo River, a sight equally as captivating as the Las Pozas pools. Short rock walls form miniature waterfalls, and resting up against the face of the rock simulates a hydro-massage — a soothing and therapeutic experience. Flanked on either side by a rich collection of green undergrowth and plantation, a day spent soaking in the Tolantongo River is a soulful and rejuvenating experience. From ziplining and camping to the luxurious hot springs, waterfalls, and caves, this geothermal park in Hidalgo, Mexico, should be on every traveler's bucket list.

History and health benefits of Las Grutas Tolantongo

In the heart of the Hidalgo Mountain Range, the thermal Tolantongo River has flowed through the grottoes for hundreds of years. Yet, it wasn't until the 1970s that media outlets began to shed light on Hidalgo's hidden oasis. The origins of the name "Tolantongo" are believed to stem from the Nahuatl word Tonaltonko, which translates to "Home where it feels warm." Each of the thermal pools within the Tolantongo grottoes are fed with an endless supply of water, carried throughout the park from a cascading waterfall deep within the Hidalgo mountains that rests above the Tolantongo cave. The cool water that flows from the side of the cliff mingles with the underground thermal chambers to create an optimal temperature for soaking in the pools.

According to Everyday Health, mineral-rich waters, like the ones found in thermal pools, are plentiful in essential nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. In addition to the collection of minerals, soaking in heated water is associated with a wealth of additional health benefits, such as relieving muscle tension and pain, cardiovascular improvements, and increased skin health. While the mineral properties in thermal waters are extremely beneficial for both your muscles and scalp, many cultures believe in healing properties related to thermal waters and often engage in ritualistic religious ceremonies. Thermal hot springs are a coveted attraction around the globe, yet few are as unique as the Tolantongo Hot Springs, one of Mexico's most coveted destinations.