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“Very nice place - may be best to go in the am on weekdays”
Review of Spence Hot Springs

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Owner description: Bathing suits are optional as you soak away your worries in the 102 degree hot spring pools that offer soft, sandy bottoms.
Reviewed October 25, 2012

There is a small parking lot right off NM4. The hike first goes downhill, then back up on the other side. It is not difficult to get to, just minor scrambling near the hot springs. There are two soak mini pools: the lower one is slightly cooler, the upper one is warmer. Off the side of the upper pool is a small cave, fits 2 people maximum, and the temperature here is the highest, ~upper 90's. Cool experience to lay in the cave. There was a group of Kentuckian balloon fiesta people drinking Wild Turkey, suited and still quite civilized, however would have perfect with less conversation in the background. The lower pool amazingly has small hot spring snails.

4  Thank usuallyhappytravels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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50 - 54 of 68 reviews

Reviewed September 5, 2012

A short hike down to the jemez river and a shorter hike up the other side will lead you to two small man made pools from the hot springs. The trail is somewhat maintained and clearly marked. The average, able body should make the trek in less than 15 minutes. The pools are fed from a spring that you can get to by crawling about 5 feet into a cave. The upper pool connects to the cave. This is the cleanest of the water because the second pool is fed by the first. AKA gravity, haha. People were nice and friendly. There was a person smoking some M.J. though. Nearby is the town of jemez springs with a couple of places to eat and a cool old bar to grab a beer.

3  Thank ABQLyon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2012

Forget swimming pools this summer; hot springs are the new place to go. Recently, I attended a birthday party where we all took a trip to Spence Hot Springs in the Jemez Mountains.

From Albuquerque, the car ride is approximately two hours, four hours round trip, on State Highway 4. It might have been shorter if we didn’t have to go through a sobriety checkpoint and pass an accident. The entrance to the parking area is about 6.5 miles north of Jemez Springs, on the right.

To get to the naturally occurring hot springs, a 15-minute, moderate hike is required. The trail starts out flat and smooth, however, as one heads closer to the springs, the ground can get slippery wet. Take caution when climbing up and down the rocky hills. For better traction, I suggest wearing tennis shoes you aren’t afraid to get muddy.

Spence Hot Springs consists of two pools of hot water on a hill. The location of the pools provides spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The temperature of the hot springs is comfortably warm, even though air temperatures are already in the high 80s. The upper pool is hotter than the lower one. I only stayed in the larger upper pool and estimated the average temperature to be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit, close to warm bath water.

The springs are quite popular. When my group arrived, two large families were already established in the pools. Fortunately, they soon left and our party of 14 took over the upper pool. I would say that the upper pool can comfortably fit 12 bodies fully submerged, but could fit 16 people if sitting locations and bodies (sizes) are compromised.

Some neat features of Spence Hot Springs include a tiny cavern where the spring bubbles from. If you are brave (not scared of snails) and flexible enough, try to work your way to the water source. Here in the cavern, the water is noticeably hotter as well as clearer.

Algae and snails are abundant in these hot springs. It’s amazing that the algae can grow in New Mexico. It’s also amazing that both the algae and snails thrive in their hot water environment. Try and spot some of the snails. They’re usually clinging on for dear life to the sides of the pool. You’ll really have to get up close, though, as the snails are the size of gravel. As for the algae, you don’t need to search for it. In fact, if you don’t like slimy things, you might not want to fully get in the pools. There’s so much algae floating around you’re likely to find a little surprise in your swimsuit when you return home for a shower. I noticed that Spence Hot Springs has no strong sulfur odor commonly associated with hot springs, allowing for a more pleasant experience.

Keep in mind that Spence Hot Springs is a public place and not monitored frequently. I saw one family bring their dog (not recommended) to the pools with them and a couple pouring alcohol into the water (also not recommended and prohibited). I heard that the hot springs draw nude bathers. The only nudity I saw was a child changing out of his swimsuit into clothes. Nevertheless, I would be wary since as stated on the Santa Fe National Forest site, “This area is heavily used and nudity is very common, though prohibited.”

Whether you want just a quick dip of the feet or a full scale body relaxation, a visit to Spence Hot Springs is easy, free, and a must to do this summer (or winter which I hope to experience one day). Enjoy soaking it up at Spence Hot Springs!

Tip: For less of a crowd, try visiting the hot springs during a weekday. For the courageous: Try visiting the hot springs during the winter!

Tip: There are picnic tables further up past the pools. Bring food/drink to snack on in between dips in the pool.

Warning: Do not submerge your head in the water. Although very rare, you do not want to risk getting meningitis caused by an amoeba.

6  Thank TheTurquoiseTable
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 1, 2012

This is definitely a destination where the experience is shaped by the other people there. We went early on a Saturday morning, but the crowds were kept away by cool temperatures and threatening clouds. The tiny lot had one space open, and we took it. I have been to Spence hot springs twice -- once decades ago when it was uncontrolled and a few weeks ago as a monitored forest attraction.

The trail to the springs is short (< 1 mile) but pretty rugged. The trail has smooth switchbacks to the river but then turns up sharply from the river to the hot pools. When we arrived, the top pool was filled with parents and little kids. It had a great family atmosphere, dispelling concerns I had about naked and rowdy people chasing us away. Instead, we enjoyed the energy of the other families, and then they all left and we had the beautiful pools to ourselves. Soaking in a hot pool while gazing out at the Jemez Mountains from the perch on the side of a mountain was amazing. A young couple and a party of young women showed up, but they all wore bathing suits and were considerate.

When we left, a huge party of tourists was coming in, and the parking lot was overflowing. A young father and mother were struggling to haul a stroller down the trail, and I suggested they leave the stroller behind and carry their baby. They ignored me and continued on, but I can't imagine that they got their stroller any further than the bridge at the bottom of the switchbacks.

Again, the trail is hikeable by young children, flying and biting bugs aren't much of a problem, and the kids will LOVE the pools. My kids found frogs tucked up in crevices in the rocks and thought they were the cutest things ever. There are a lot of spiders crawling around, so make sure to shake out your clothes and shoes really good before putting them back on. The Las Conchas fire didn't damage this part of the forest too much. The views are still spectacular from the pools.

However, other people can ruin what should be a great experience. We were very lucky on the day we went, but I have spoken with many people with other stories. Some people go there to drink and party. Some soak in the pools naked even though signs forbid this. A friend said that some guy was at the pools and was wearing a gun belt and nothing else. It can get wild in the mountains of New Mexico, so you need to be prepared for everything. It is part of the charm of this state. I hiked in front of my kids so that we could do an about-face if the atmosphere at the pools wasn't welcoming. Fortunately, it was.

The pools are a really neat place to go, especially with kids, but prepare for the worst. Rangers patrol the lot on a frequent basis, so it is a much safer place than it used to be. It is probably best not to go alone for a number of reasons. The Jemez Mountains have bears, cougars, bobcats, and coyotes, so it is good to stay alert, especially if the pools are uncrowded and quiet. Wear good hiking shoes, take kids and dogs if you have them, wear your bathing suit, and bring a towel. Spence Hot Springs are a good time and definitely worth a stop if driving past.

4  Thank Lisa77777
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 5, 2012

We arrived at Spence Hot Spring early on a Sunday morning, as the paved parking lot the previous Saturday afternoon was absolutely packed. By 9:00, a few other people arrived. Everyone respected the "no nudity" request on the Forest Service sign. Might have been because we were all older-ish and didn't really feel the need to make statements by going against petty agency regulations. No big deal. The hike in is very short and on an improved trail. In the top pool there is a small cave where the hot water comes out. It is big enough for one person and has a nice, pebbly floor that feels good to lay on.

3  Thank Jean Ann M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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