It’s Earth Month, and so I had to share this special place in Mexico that truly embodies the beauty that comes with mother nature. Some feel scared to venture outside of the city in Mexico, but I always find it to be a wonderful opportunity to explore some parts of the country that others wouldn’t consider going to. Just 3 and a half hours outside of Mexico City exists one of Mexico’s best little hidden gems: Grutas Tolantongo.
Grutas Tolantongo is essentially a turquoise water playground with natural hot springs hidden in the beautiful mountains of the Sierra de Hidalgo. You may have seen the white, cliff-side pools on one of your favorite travel influencer’s feeds as they are really starting to blow up on Instagram and TikTok. Hidalgo, which is where Tolantongo River is located, is one of the states in Mexico with the most indigenous language speakers, which is how Tolantongo got its name and translates to “home where it feels warm”.
There are 3 sections
- Phase 1 – This phase is one you see all over Instagram – the beautiful pools built into a cliff. While the pools themselves are man-made, they are filled with warm, natural mineral-infused water that has been heated by the surrounding volcanic mountains.
- Phase 2 – This part is a very calming and relaxing river that you can explore and splash around in. The river is so incredibly blue and breathtaking and pleasantly warm. It gets its vivid color from the mineral salts it picks up as it passes through the mountains.
- Phase 3 – In phase 3 you can actually go swimming inside. There are two sections, one that is a lot tighter and a lot more intense. It’s basically like an extremely intense sauna, where the only way out is to walk through the cave tunnel and all the way back. There is also a more open cave section that is essentially like a little pool, kind of like the cenotes you would find outside of Tulum. There is also another hidden cave you can explore and get massaged by the strong water currents coming out from some of the overhead holes.
There are multiple ways to get there from Mexico City:
- Rent a car – Personally, I loved renting a car and staying overnight at a close by Short Term Rental. You can rent a car from any of your major car rental companies (I went with Avis) and it will take you about 3 and a half hours to get there. It’s a pretty easy drive and I felt pretty comfortable driving as a solo female.
- Book a tour – You can book many day tours in Mexico City. These usually start really early in the morning and return late at night. The one thing I don’t love about the tour is you usually get to the park around 11 AM or so and so the place will probably already be a little bit crowded.
- Take a bus – This will be your longest but cheapest way to get there. You will also have to transfer buses at Ixmiquilpan and get a small bus called a colectivo marked Mercado Moreles, then walk to the parking lot. Note that the last colectivo back to Ixmiquilpan leaves at 5:30 PM.
The park is open daily from 7 AM to 8 PM and the earlier you can get there the better. I would highly recommend getting there before 11 AM as it does start to get crowded, even during the week. I would definitely NOT recommend going on a weekend – it will probably be way too packed for you to really enjoy it.
That being said, if you don’t have Grutas Tolontango on your Mexico bucket list you’re definitely missing out! Happy adventuring!!