Ojo Caliente and the Fountain of Youth

            Watch this website for details on upcoming group trips and discount tickets for this area in September and December.

                      Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale

Welcome back.  I am continuing from last week with my meeting with a 150 year old man in a place Spanish explorers called “warm eye.” This area lies west of Taos and had a deep spiritual meaning for the early inhabitants that continues to this day. Tribal stories about the creation describe six foot tall “earth babies” who howl at night, ghost cows with wings, giant midgets, flying spiders and canyons filled with the ghosts of men killed in the great conflict of the 1800s between sheep and cattle ranchers.

Archaeologists have proven that the first human settlements were built here in the 1400s and had thousands of inhabitants. In the 1500s the Spanish in search of gold and the fountain of youth discovered the hot springs and named the area “Ojo Caliente.”

Although the Spaniards did not find gold, they did find a fountain of such importance that the local tribesman said it was a gift from the gods. Zebulon Pike who explored the region after discovering Pike’s Peak in 1807 called the hot springs “a great natural curiosity.”

In 1846 Antonio Joseph who was an influential citizen of the territory noticed the waters and heard the many stories of their healing powers. A man of means, in 1868 he moved to Ojo Caliente and opened the first natural springs health spa in the country. The spa was an instant success and wealthy people came from all over the region to be healed by the miraculous waters that bubbled to the surface.

Still in operation today, and more popular than ever, the springs have been tested and shown to contain four different minerals: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic. I have been told that these are the only hot springs in the world with this combination of minerals.

Through the centuries everyone who has come here has soaked in the same waters, drunk from the same stream and inhaled the same steam filled air.

At 61 and after a life full of injuries I decided to give the waters a try and I figured even if the myths and legends weren’t true a good hot bath would do me good. After soaking in a number of different pools I wanted to try the mud bath which is said to draw out the impurities in your system. With no one speaking above a whisper and all of us covered in what I believe is sacred mud, I lay down and baked in the sun.

Six hours later, whether it was the 7,090 ft. elevation, the desert climate, the mud, the yoga or the massage, I think I may have briefly reversed the aging process. I seemed to hear spirit voices from the past in the gentle music playing in the background and when I opened my relaxed eyes I saw what appeared to be a 150 year old man covered in mud but then again all of us who had dried mud all over our faces and bodies looked to be 150.

If you decide to turn back time you can learn all about this 143 year old spa on their website www.ojospa.com. In addition to the healing waters, Ojo Caliente Resort offers hotel lodging, guest cottages (some with private hot spring pools), a full service restaurant and wine bar, massages, facials and body treatments.

I am planning a special group trip to this area in the fall and also the week before Christmas which may include free day passes to the spa, ½ price lift tickets at Angel Fire and Red River and lodging at the UUBar Ranch.  I’ll keep you posted as the dates draw nearer.

Oh Kay Owingeh is the pre-Spanish name for this Indian tribe whose pueblo is just up the road from Santa Fe and I’ll be bringing you stories from both places next week.. Till then I hope to see ya down the road….

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