It is time to get to know one of the most magical places that we can find in Mexico. We are talking about Las Grutas de Tolantongo: a hidden natural paradise in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico characterized by its hot springs, waterfalls, caves, tunnels, and natural pools. This box canyon and resort is an ideal place to relax and enjoy either with your family or with your friends.
This place is located in the Mezquital Valley, in the state of Hidalgo, Mexico. Tourism here began in the 60s, offering smaller services such as the rental of horses, donkeys, and mules to go down the canyon. Over time, food sites and camping spaces began, slowly building changing rooms, showers, walkways, and stairs to explore the entire complex. As time passed, tourism increased and the land became an ejido, a communal land that the local community administers and oversees.
What is the origin of its peculiar name?
Even so, the theory of the origin of this name is that when they were promoted, the name was misspelled and it was the one that was adopted and by which this paradise is known today: Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
According to Enrique Rivas Paniagua, the neighboring towns referred to these caves with the name of Tonaltongo which name comes from tonalli, which in Nahuatl means "heat from the sun" or "where you feel warmth."
However, in 1975 when this paradise was popularized and promoted by a popular magazine, the director Harry Möller decided to write the place’s name as Tolantongo and it stayed that way, let's say "officially".
What is essential to see in the Tolantongo Canyon?
In the Grutas de Tolantongo, we are facing what is known as natural jacuzzies, popularly called "The hidden paradise". In this natural spa we can find heated pools near the bottom of a steep canyon that has walls as much as 500 meters high. Its main attraction are two grottos at the canyon’s closed end, out of which flows a small volcanically heated river which follows the canyon floor. These various pools and waterfalls have become the most photographed image by tourists who decide to visit the Tolantongo Caves.
If you want your visit to be complete, you have to let yourself be carried away by the various activities that you can do in the canyon. Among them, being able to relax like never before thanks to its thermal river; it is something you must experience!
Inside Tolantongo’s complex, there is a natural grotto about the size of half a tennis court where you can find many geological formations that have formed after years of mineral buildup. Inside, the temperature ranges between 95ºF and 100ºF (35ºC and 38ºC). Therefore, we are in a true natural spa!
As if this was not enough, above the grotto is a small cavern about 50 feet deep in which refreshing waters from the waterfall showers those who venture inside. Around these two openings, warm waterfalls flow down the steep canyon walls, a point where you feel the most heat that evokes the sensation of being in a real sauna.
If relaxing and soaking yourself in natural springs seems too “boring” for you, the canyon and grottos also offer extreme ecotourism. Here visitors can practice hiking, zip-lining, rappelling, and spelunking!
How to get there?
You can get there by bus or car from Mexico City, Queretaro, or the State of Mexico. To get there, you must first pass through the town of Ixmiquilpan, and from there follow the signs to the caves. When passing through Ixmiquilpan we recommend taking some time to see the original sculpture of Diana the Huntress, which is the one that was originally located on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City—the one that is currently in the capital is a replica.
Arriving at the caves, you can lodge either inside the park, where they have different hotels and a camping area, or outside the park there are also hotels where you can stay.
To eat, the park has restaurants at different points where you can buy food of all kinds, they also have grill rentals so you can prepare your own food.
Take this into consideration:
- Inside the park they only accept cash, so bring enough cash.
- Consider wearing water shoes, because the whole place is very slippery, and your sandals can come off.
- Consider that you are going to have to walk a lot, go up and down different trails, but it is worth the effort.
- The park does not offer wi-fi and the phone signal is not very good.
- For more information and things to consider before embarking on this adventure, be sure to check out their official webpage here: http://www.grutastolantongo.com.mx/en/information.html
So, who would you like to take into this paradise? Would you rather sit and relax in the hot springs or take a zip-line adventure? Are there any other places in Mexico you would like for us to highlight? Let us know in the comments below, you know we love to read all your feedback and comments!
Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter if you would like to receive more articles like this one and to check out our shop to get the latest from Mexico to your doorstep!
Reading this article on the natural hot springs of Hidalgo reminded me of a magical place I visited a year or so ago — Hierve el Agua, not far from Oaxaca city. Not only was the drive from the city to this location absolutely amazing, but the site itself is stunning. The “frozen waterfalls” (actually rock formations of calcium carbonate caused by the flow of water over thousands of years) are stunning, and there are natural pools of mineral water to wade and swim in. The site was probably of spiritual significance to the ancient peoples of the valley. Anyway – not sure you’ve written about Hierve el Agua before, but I think readers would find it interesting.