Las Grutas de Tolantongo: Hot Springs Resort Travel Tips
Although the literal translation of “Las Grutas de Tolantongo” means “The Caves of Tolantongo”, this area is so much more than simply caves. This includes a number of different thermal hot pools that visitors can swim and relax in while visiting the Las Grutas resort complex.
“How are these hot spring pools created?”
Geothermally heated waters spring up and out from the Tolantongo mountains and gather into pools on the sides of the mountain..These heated waters then spill out of these pools flow down into a river, which runs along the bottom of the canyon.
If you find yourself in Central Mexico, spending a couple days at Las Grutas de Tolantongo is a great way to relax, have fun, and capture those much sought after Instagram pics.
In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about the Las Grutas de Tolantongo hot springs resort. We go over what there is to see, the costs, top tips to know when visiting, where to sleep, and more.
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Is Visiting The Las Grutas de Tolantongo Resort Worth It?
It can be a bit out of the way to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo, and so you might be asking yourself the questions:
“Is it worth it to visit the hot springs of Las Grutas de Tolantongo?”
And though it can feel touristy on the weekends, we think visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo is definitely worth it! And this is why:
- Great spot to cool off: It can get pretty hot in central mexico! It was refreshing to spend our two days jumping in and out of the waters in Las Grutas.
- Unique warm water caves and tunnels: We had visited a number of hot springs during our travels throughout Mexico, but none of them had the uniqueness of swimming inside a pitch dark tunnel and caves. Exploring the caves was our favorite thing to do at Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
- Picturesque pools overlooking the canyon: Without a doubt, the hot pools at the top of the canyon were the most picturesque hot pools we had ever been to.
How To Get To Las Grutas de Tolantongo
There are a number of ways to get to Las Grutas de Tolantongo. We discuss some of the popular ways below.
By Private Vehicle
Having or renting your own vehicle is by far the most convenient way to get to Las Grutas de Tolantongo. With your own car, you can travel on your own timetable and aren’t rushed by the public bus schedule.
Shuttle Bus From Ixmiquilpan
The Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort runs a shuttle bus from the nearby city of Ixmiquilpan for 50 pesos per person. There is a parking lot next to the church of San Antonio on the north side of town and shuttle busses to the Las Grutas resort gather there.
Best Time To Visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo
In short, any time of month is a great time to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
Visiting During The Summer Months
If you are planning to visit during the heat of the summer, being able to jump in and out of the warm water will help refresh your body, mitigate the heat, and keep you cool. Many of the hot pools at Las Grutas de Tolantongo aren’t hot enough to be uncomfortable when visiting during the summer months.
Visiting During The Winter Months
If you are there during the winter months, like we were, then soaking in the thermal hot pools will offer a nice respite from the cooler winter air. Although even during the winter months, the temperature doesn’t drop that low.
When NOT To Visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo
We recommend avoiding visiting during the weekend at all costs.
From Friday to Sunday, the thermal pools are usually swamped with literally thousands of local tourists looking to escape the cities and the heat. Finding your own quiet space within the park is next to impossible, services are packed, and lines can form to enter the best locations.
We arrived during the week on a Tuesday and found the crowds much more manageable. The campground was almost empty, bathrooms were largely unused and clean, and no lines to enter the thermal pools.
Our #1 advice when visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo is to arrive between Monday and Thursday.
How Much Does Las Grutas de Tolantongo Resort Cost?
The price of visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo can quickly add up, especially if you plan on staying for multiple days.
Below, we document all the costs associated with visiting the Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort complex.
Entrance Tickets: 150 pesos/person/day
Parking: 20 pesos/car/day
Camping: Free, but you will need to pay for the next day’s entrance ticket.
Resort Hotels: 750-1300 pesos per night(See details here)
Food: 50-150 pesos
Lockers: 80 pesos + 70 pesos deposit
What To See At Las Grutas de Tolantongo Resort
Surprisingly, there are quite a lot of different things to do when visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo. There is so much more than simply taking a dip in the famous, photogenic hot pools.
The Thermal Hot Springs Pools (Las Pozas)
The thermal hot spring pools area is a collection of man-made pools that are built along the canyon slopes. Geothermally heated water seeps out from the canyon walls and is then redirected to these pools.
Compared to the other attractions, which are located at the bottom of the canyon, the Tolantongo hot spring pools are situated up top, near the rim of the canyon. This means that while you sit in the hot pools, you get great views looking out across and down into the canyon.
The thermal pools area is also THE place to get that quintessential Instagram photo. Although the pools are man-made, the colors of the water, the pool walls, and the surrounding stones and tree root systems provided for a wonderful photo opportunity.
The Tolantongo Caves
In our opinion, the caves are THE best attraction in the entire Las Grutas hot springs resort complex.
Geothermally heated water seeps through the walls and ceiling and collects in several large caverns inside the mountain in the southeastern end of the resort. Visitors can enter the cave through the large entrance and swim in the warm waters and explore all the hidden cavities inside.
Though space can be cramped, especially during the weekends, it’s fun to explore the cave and discover all the different cave rooms.
The Tunnel (El Tunél)
Situated just above the caves is a 15 meter long tunnel that visitors can enter and carefully make your way, by swimming through hot pools, to the end and back. You will have to walk on unstable, rocky ground, so it is good idea to wear water shoes.
Because of it’s small enclosure, visiting the Tolantongo tunnel is like being in a steam sauna. The air is warm and filled with warm water vapor.
Like the caves below, warm water seeps out from the walls and ceiling.
It’s pitch dark in the tunnel, but there is often an employee halfway in the tunnel that helps guide visitors in and out with a flashlight.
But the single flashlight from the guide isn’t enough to get to the end of the tunnel, however. So we recommend bringing your own waterproof flashlight or cell phone (in a waterproof bag, of course!)
The River (Rio)
While the other attractions have limited capacity and can be quite packed during the weekends, the river offers visitors the best opportunity to get outside and swim in the warm waters without having to constantly bump elbows with strangers.
All along the river, running along the bottom of the canyon, are places to camp and relax throughout the day. Stones have been strategically placed to gather the warm river water into cascading pools, making the river deep enough to swim in.
Top Tips For Visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo Hot Springs
The entire resort/complex of Las Grutas de Tolantongo is huge! And it can be hard to make the most efficient use of your limited time here.
We’ve listed a few handy tips below to help you navigate this area with the least number of headaches and surprises.
1. Visit On The Weekdays
If you can help it, do everything you can to arrive at the Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort during a weekday. And preferably before Friday.
The entire complex is literally packed with domestic tourists from Friday to Sunday.
We arrived on a Tuesday and for the two days that we were there, the crowds were very manageable. During our swims in the thermal pools and the river, we were oftentimes the only ones in the water!
If you come on the weekends, expect there to be long lines to enter the caves and tunnel.
2. Visit The Thermal Pools First
Of the 4 main attractions, the thermal pools are the most separated from the other three (caves, tunnel, and river). The thermal pools are higher up by the rim of the canyon and the other three sites are at the base of the canyon.
Right when you purchase your entry tickets, you have the option of driving to the thermal pools or straight down to the bottom of the canyon.
Because of this, we think it’s best to visit the thermal pools first, once entry tickets are purchased.
Though the thermal pools provide the best photographs, we think the caves, tunnel, and river deserve most of your time.
3. Different Thermal Hot Pools Have Different Temperatures
Unfortunately, we did not think the temperature of the thermal pools were very high. We could definitely have appreciated sitting in true “hot” springs.
But it’s important to know that not all hot pools are the same temperature. Due to how the pools are built and how the water cascades down from the upper pools to the lower pools, some pools are inevitably warmer than others.
It’s not an exact science, but the higher up the pools, the warmer the water.
Test out the temperature of the different pools before settling in one.
4. Waterproof Cell Phone Pouches Are VERY Useful
For taking pictures in the water, ideally GoPro is the way to go, but we regret not purchasing these waterproof pouches for our cell phones before visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
Having waterproof pouches provides 3 MAJOR benefits.
- Take pictures while in the water: When you are in the caves and the tunnel, water is splashing everywhere and it’s impossible not to get your phone wet without using one of these pouches.
- Use your phone’s flashlight when in the tunnel: The tunnel is pitch black and without bringing your own source of light, it’s impossible to navigate to the tunnel’s end.
- Avoid renting expensive lockers: Having this waterproof pouch allows you to bring your money and valuables with you instead of having to rent expensive lockers.
5. Bring The Proper Footwear
While not absolutely necessary, we really recommend getting a pair of water shoes.
These shoes help protect you from the loose and sharp rocks at the bottom of the river, caves, and tunnel. We were always climbing over rocks and these shoes definitely saved our feet.
Virtually every domestic visitor was wearing some form of these water shoes.
Where To Sleep At Las Grutas de Tolantongo
The way we see it, there are three main places you can sleep.
1. Camping at Las Grutas de Tolantongo
Whether you plan to sleep in a tent or in a camper van (like us), if you choose the camping option, you can drive right to the bottom of the canyon and set yourself up right alongside the river’s edge.
Camping is technically free. There is no cost associated with sleeping overnight at Las Grutas de Tolantongo. But you do need to pay for the next day’s entrance fee.
2. Tolantongo Resort Hotel
There are also three hotels in the Las Grutas complex. Prices range from 750-1300 pesos per night. Keep in mind, you will STILL be required to pay for the next day’s entrance fee if paying for a hotel room.
Learn More: Las Grutas hotel resort website
3. Cheapest Option: Sleeping Just Before The Main Entrance
Unfortunately, when you purchase an entry ticket, that ticket is only good until 8pm that same day. If you decide to sleep overnight within the Las Grutas resort complex, you are forced to buy an additional day ticket for the following day.
If you decide to sleep one night, you need to buy two single day tickets. If you want to sleep two nights at Las Grutas, you need to buy three single day tickets. And so on…
If you’re traveling on a budget, you can absolutely make it to all the attractions in a single day.
But this involves sleeping in the hotel and parking lot area several kilometers BEFORE the ticket area and entering the Las Grutas resort complex early the next day.
You can spend all day within the resort complex and leave at sunset and sleep again in the hotel and parking lot area outside the ticket area.
It’s a great way to save some money by not having to purchase multiple day passes.
Where To Eat At Las Grutas de Tolantongo
You are not prevented from bringing your own food into the Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort complex, so when you’re hungry you can either cook your own food or buy it at the many restaurants and snack bars throughout the hot springs resort.
There are three main restaurants within the Las Grutas complex and many more “fast food” stands throughout the resort.
For more food information: Las Grutas Restaurant & Food Official Information
What To Bring: Las Grutas de Tolantongo Packing List
Our Grutas de Tolantongo Resort Itinerary
We spent two days and one night during our visit to Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
Day 1: At Las Grutas
On our first day, we arrived at 11am and made our way down to the bottom of the Tolantongo canyon. After lunch in our camper van, we swam in the warm river. And in the afternoon, we spent the rest of the day swimming in the tunnel and caves.
Luckily, because we visited Las Grutas de Tolantongo during the weekdays, there weren’t any lines to enter the tunnel and caves. But we could see, based on where they set up the ropes, where people were supposed to line up during the weekends.
Just before sunset, we walked back to our campsite and made dinner in our van.
Day 2: At Las Grutas
After breakfast, we drove back up to the canyon rim and just after exiting the ticket check point, we re-entered a second checkpoint to visit the thermal hot pools.
We spent about two hours hopping around from one hot pool to another. But we have to admit, though the hot pools were photogenic and came with great, overlooking scenery, we were ready to leave by around the 2-hour mark.
Afterwards, we drove out of the Las Grutas de Tolantongo complex onto our next destination.
How Much We Spent At Las Grutas de Tolantongo
During our 2-day stay at Las Grutas, we spent a total of:
Two single day entrance tickets for two people: 150 x 4 = 600 pesos
Car parking fee: 20 pesos
Locker fee: 80 pesos
TOTAL COST: 700 pesos(About 35 – 40 USD)
Final Thoughts: Visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo
We hope this post has helped you prepare for your trip to Las Grutas de Tolantongo. We certainly enjoyed our trip here and believe you will, too!
We think with proper time management, visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo can be done in a single day trip, but we really enjoyed taking our time and spending two days exploring all that the hot springs resort had to offer.
If you found this post helpful or if you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comment section below!