Monday, March 16, 2015

Jemez Springs, New Mexico: Hot Springs

Jemez Springs is a small town in the mountains of northwestern New Mexico. As you might guess from the name, it is known for its natural hot springs. Some of these are businesses with a fee.

The Jemez Springs Bath House, operated by the Village of Jemez Springs, is located in the park on Main Street. Open daily 10 AM to 6 PM, prices start at $12 for a 25 min. soak, with a free mineral bath for the week before or after your birthday. Massage and herbal wraps are also available. Reservations recommended.

Giggling Springs Hot Springs has a lovely outdoor soaking pool near the river. They'll even deliver drinks as you soak. They claim, "The water on this property originates from deep beneath the Valles Caldera National Preserve about 17 miles up the mountain. It's the ancient sea water that got trapped there long ago, and so it has been infused with many minerals over eons of time. We believe it's one of the reasons the water here in our village is so special!” Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, other days open 11 AM until 5-10 PM depending on the day and season. Prices start at $18 per hour.

Spence Hot Springs: By Daniel Schwen (Own work) 
[CC BY-SA 4.0 (], 
via Wikimedia Commons

You can also visit natural hot springs for free.

San Antonio Hot Springs, north of Jemez Springs, is about a 10 minute walk from a parking area. Soak in a series of rock pools, hotter at the top and cooler as they flow down the hill. No official website, but Trip Advisor and have info, and this motorcyclist posted a description of the trip with photos.

McCauley Hot Springs requires a 2 mile hike. The pool is large, shallow and warm rather than hot. It makes a nice stop on a hike on hot day. You can start from Battleship Rock a few miles north of Jemez Springs, or from Jemez Falls off NM-4. If you're up for a 5 1/2 mile round-trip, you can start at Battleship Rock, stop at the Hot Springs, and also visit the impressive waterfall. Camping is available at both ends of the trail, but check ahead for seasonal closures.

Spence Hot Spring is about 5 miles North of Jemez Springs, a short hike from a paved but unmarked parking area. These springs are overused and may not be very clean.

If you need even more relaxation, Bodhi Manda Zen Center is a Buddhist center offering Zen practice and retreats. Stop by for individual meditation, group chanting and meditation, or public ceremonies. Families are welcome.

In or near Jemez Springs, you can also visit the ruins of an old Spanish church; Soda Dam, a cool rock formation formed from the mineralized water flowing in the river; and Battleship Rock, so named because it resembles the prow of a battleship. (Pictures on my Pinterest page.)  I'll follow up in another post.

I’ve attended many writing retreats at a camp north of Jemez Springs, and those experiences inspired Counterfeits. Of course, in the book, the site isn’t quite so relaxing. When Jenny inherits a children’s art camp, she discovers that her grandmother’s death might not have been an accident after all. The men who killed her grandmother are searching for stolen paintings, and they think Jenny and her old friend Rob, the camp cook, are involved. Doing research at a real camp tucked away in the woods, and hiking above Battleship Rock for a scene where Jenny gets lost, helped the setting feel realistic.


Jenny rose from sleep slowly, her body resisting. She could see nothing in the pitch black. Where was she? She blinked, trying to make sure her eyes were really open.
    Memories broke through the fog. The phone call, the rush across country, the late arrival. Crawling into bed in her grandparents’ upstairs guest room. She groaned and pulled up the blanket. Morning must be hours away, given the darkness.
    The old house creaked, but no sounds drifted in from outside. Maybe that’s what woke her; she was used to the murmur of city sounds all night long. Who’d have thought that would become normal?
    Her head pounded. Probably dehydration from the high elevation and dry air. She should get up, drink a glass of water, take a couple of aspirin. Her head would thank her in the morning. If only she could make herself move.
    The house creaked again, followed by a rhythmic sound – like footsteps. Jenny jerked upright, her ears straining. Had she heard a voice?
    She shook her head. She must still be half asleep, dreaming. Imagining her grandparents were still here. Wishful thinking.
    Downstairs, a door closed. Jenny clutched the blanket. Imagination be damned. She was not alone.
    For a long moment, she sat frozen. During her ten years in New York City, she had never been burglarized or mugged. It seemed impossible that such a thing should happen now, here, in an off-season art camp five miles outside of Jemez Springs, New Mexico.
    Maybe it was someone her grandmother knew. But what were they doing there in the middle of the night? And if they’d come to see Jenny, they should have knocked, rung the bell. Waited for morning. Anyway, who knew she was there? Even Ms. Lucena didn’t know when she was supposed to arrive. She hadn’t told anyone her travel plans; she’d just gone.
    She had to do something. Jenny rose and eased open the bedroom door, praying she had somehow been mistaken, that everything would make sense if… when…. She couldn’t imagine a benign explanation.
    She stood with her ear to the crack and heard a low chuckle, and then a male voice. She couldn’t tell if the laugh and the voice were the same person. Either way, that suggested two or more people, at least one of them male.
    Why would a man be laughing in her grandmother’s house, in the middle of the night, two days after her grandmother’s death? No good reason came to mind.
    She fumbled for her phone on the bedside stand. But even before she activated the screen, she gave a frustrated grunt. She wouldn’t get reception here. The only place in camp that got cell phone reception was the southeast corner of the parking lot. The landline was downstairs, in the kitchen.
    Something crashed in a room below. Jenny jumped and dropped her phone. It hit her thigh, then her foot, and went skittering under the bed with a faint scrape against the wood floor.
    A man was swearing downstairs. Hopefully that had covered up any sound she’d made. Jenny clenched her hands to control the trembling. She couldn’t imagine her grandmother being friendly with anyone who swore like that.
    She had to get out of the house. She wouldn’t wait upstairs for the burglars, if that’s what they were, to find her. If she could get to her car – damn. Her keys were in her purse, which was downstairs on the living room couch. So she couldn’t drive, but she could still go to the Lodge, break in if she had to. Use the phone in the office, call the police.
    Still shaking, Jenny crouched and felt along the floor for her shoes. She was wearing flannel pajama bottoms and a tank top; no need to waste time putting on clothes. She was already cold, but her jacket was downstairs, lying over her purse on the couch. It didn’t matter. She just had to get out.

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