Grutas Tolantongo: The Ultimate Hot Spring Guide 2024

Last Updated on April 22, 2024 by Ashlea J. Russell

Have questions about Grutas Tolantongo, Mexico’s most magical hot springs? I went and I’ve got the answers.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the pictures. Beautiful turquoise pools of water looking out at an undisturbed mountainscape, luring you to the wilds of Hidalgo.

Then we find it on a map and the questions about Grutas Tolantongo start pouring in. Is it worth the journey? Is it really like the pictures? How do you even get there?

I had all the same questions (and more) so I decided to hit the road and cross these Hidalgo hot springs off my Mexico Bucket List.

Now I’m here to give you the full scoop on everything you need to know and what I wish I knew before I went, so you can make this journey and have as memorable an experience as I did.

Ashlea sitting in the mountainside pools at Grutas Tolantongo looking out at the mountainscape ahead.

Tolantongo Express

I took the Express Tour to Tolantongo which leaves before everyone else, arrives at the park at opening, and gets back to Mexico City by 4:30pm. Skipping the crowds and traffic made a huge difference!

Grutas Tolantongo Hot Springs

Grutas Tolantongo is like a thermal hot spring-waterpark hybrid, located in a box canyon, in the gorgeous mountainous landscape of Hidalgo, in Central Mexico.

The park is owned and operated by the ejido community nearby, which means everyone in the community shares ownership and everyone who works here also lives in the community.

The park features a combination of natural and manmade attractions including cliffside thermal pools, a striking thermal river, and a cave-come-sauna.

The baby blue river Tolantongo rushing through the canyon.

Since the 1970’s, Mexicans have been making the journey to Tolantongo to bathe in the hot springs and take in the incredible surroundings.

Now over the last few years Grutas Tolantongo has gained international attention, which is probably why you’re here!

After years of mulling it over, I finally took the plunge and made the journey out to Tolantongo to see if it lived up to the hype… and it did!

Don’t let the remote location deter you. This is a place that’s worth the journey and this guide is going to help get you totally prepared so your trip is a breeze.

Grutas Tolantongo Quick Guide

  • Hours: Every Day 7am – 8pm
  • Cost: $200MXN [$11USD/$14CAD] Per Person (Entry Only)
  • Credit Cards: Cash Only
  • Reservations: Walk-In Only
  • Food: Restaurant (outside food allowed, BBQs for rent)
  • Alcohol: Not Allowed
  • Spa: None
  • Lockers: $50MXN + $100MXN Key Deposit
  • Towels: Bring Your Own Towel
  • English Spoken: No
  • WiFi: None
  • Parking: $30MXN Per Vehicle
  • Adults Only: No
  • Pet-Friendly: No

How To Get To Grutas Tolantongo

The million dollar question when it comes to Grutas Tolantongo is, how do I get there?

There are three ways to get to Grutas Tolantongo. One of them is a great idea, one isn’t, and the third is good for specific people, so let’s go over your options.

  • Take A Tour
  • Drive Yourself
  • Take Public Transit

Best Grutas Tolantongo Tour

Taking a tour is definitely the easiest, fastest, and least stressful way to visit Grutas Tolantongo.

The main thing that deters travellers from booking a tour is that it’s the most expensive way to get there, but I’ve done it and it was worth every penny.

There are tour options to Grutas Tolantongo from San Miguel de Allende and Querétaro but if you want to save some money, the best value tours are from Mexico City.

I poured over all the tour options from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo and while they all seemed very similar the tour I took had one big difference: it left the earliest.

The schedule of the Express Tour To Tolantongo had two major impacts on my experience: we arrived before the crowds and we were back in Mexico City before dinner.

The tour includes:

  • English & Spanish Speaking Guide
  • Private Driver
  • Small Group Experience (Max 10 Guests)
  • Comfortable Round-Trip Transportation In An Air-Conditioned Vehicle
  • Early Entrance To The Park
  • Time At The Pools, Cave & River
  • Bottled Water & Snacks
  • Early Return To Mexico City (Approx. 4:30pm – 6pm)

When I booked my tour I received an email with some basic instructions and a handy packing list. Then, the day before I received a WhatsApp message from my guide, Jesús, confirming the details of my pick up and a few reminders of things to bring.

  • WhatsApp is used by everyone in Mexico including hotels, tour guides, restaurants and businesses. If you haven’t already, be sure to install WhatsApp before you travel.

I was picked up on time at 4:30am. The city was still asleep which meant we had no traffic the whole way to Grutas Tolantongo.

The van was very comfortable with plenty of space for our group of six. Jesús had a cooler with bottled water and some snacks and we made one brief leg stretch/bathroom stop along the way.

  • I told Jesús in advance that I get motion sickness if I sit in the back on long drives, so he saved a seat near the front for me. If you tend to get car sick I recommend doing the same thing.

As we neared the park the sun was rising and painting the mountainous landscape in gold. We arrived at Grutas Tolantongo at 7:30am and there was no one else there.

Looking out over the thermal pools at Grutas Tolantongo just after sunrise.

After a quick change, our first stop was to visit the famous mountainside pools.

I’ve seen pictures of videos of these pools overflowing with people so to have the whole area to ourselves was incredible!

We were able to take amazing pictures and enjoy the stunning setting in total peace and quiet.

  • The driver stayed in the van to guard our belongings. He also drove to meet us throughout the park so we didn’t have to worry about paying for lockers or long walks back to retrieve something.

After spending time at the pools we headed back to the van to move on to our next location.

As a group we decided to grab breakfast at the snack bar before heading on to the cave and then the river. Meals aren’t included but the prices are cheap and you get to choose what you want!

I thought that the pools would be the highlight of my trip to Grutas Tolantongo and while they were amazing, they weren’t my favourite part!

  • The pools and cave were incredible but the river was the highlight for me. I cover these plus the waterfall, tunnel, and amenities in the What To Expect section below so keep reading!

We spent the day hanging out, laughing, and relaxing, and finished off totally unwound in the stunning river.

And although I took this tour solo, Jesús did a great job of making everyone feel included in the group and that just added to the fun.

We took time to change and then hit the road to head back to Mexico City around 12:30pm.

Five hours in the park was the perfect amount of time and leaving early meant we missed all the traffic on the way back to Mexico City.

Entering Mexico City always has some slow downs but I was back at my hotel around 4:30pm with enough time to take a nap and shower before heading out for dinner.

Other tours leave later and return back to Mexico City as late as 10pm. Taking this tour meant waking up earlier but it was a better use of time and left me with the whole evening to do other things.

Driving To Tolantongo

If you’re planning to visit Grutas Tolantongo as part of a road trip then driving yourself is a good option but there are a few important things to note:

  • There’s Nothing Else In This Area
  • You’ll Need To Spend The Night
  • Expect Hairpin Turns Along Cliff Edges (Low Gear Required)
  • The Area Is Only Served By Telcel Signal
  • Bring Cash For Tolls
  • Gas Stations Are Limited
  • Expect To Find Only Spanish-Speakers
  • Do Not Drive In The Dark Under Any Circumstances

Hidalgo is not a state that’s known for a lot of tourism other than Grutas Tolantongo and a couple of archeological sites.

This means they don’t have much infrastructure to support tourism, and what they do have is geared toward Mexican travellers.

  • Grutas Tolantongo is too remote for a self-driving day trip. If you don’t want to spend the night, consider booking a tour instead.

There are hotel options around Grutas Tolantongo and in the park itself, but the standard is quite basic.

The map billboard of the park and amenities at Grutas Tolantongo.

There isn’t much to do around here or even a town to explore so this is worth considering when making your plans.

  • Camping is also an option inside the park. They offer tent and equipment rentals including BBQs. There is a restaurant open until 9pm and a grocery store open until 10pm. Outside food is not permitted. The park is cash only and you must present a ticket to rent equipment.

Driving from Mexico City, Querétaro or Guanajuato, the roads are quite good with a few tolls.

The slow downs occur when you reach Ixmiquilpan and the speed limit drops, topes (speed bumps) appear and the road starts to wind as you head into the mountainous area.

  • When driving from Mexico City be sure to take the route through Ixmiquilpan. Do not leave Highway 85 until you reach Ixmiquilpan. You can find a map of the route here.

The descent down to the park is tight, winding, and steep with a cliff drop on the side of the road. This descent should only be taken in a low gear at a low speed.

Depending on the time of day you may encounter buses, cars, and motorcycles on this road so make sure you take it easy.

  • The area surrounding the park is completely unlit and driving should never be done in the dark by people unfamiliar with the area.

Parking at Grutas Tolantongo is $30MXN [$1.80USD/$2.50CAD] per day and is in addition to your entry ticket.

Taking Public Transit

Taking public transit to Grutas Tolantongo is possible, but it is not something I recommend doing.

Here are a few things to consider with this option:

  • This Is A Multi-Leg Journey (Bus, Colectivo, Shuttle)
  • This Journey Will Likely Take Over 6hrs Each Way
  • You Will Need Working Spanish Knowledge
  • You’ll Need To Spend The Night
  • There’s Nothing Else In This Area
  • This Will Not Be Comfortable

Although taking public transit will be the cheapest option it takes the longest (by far). I strongly recommend taking a tour instead but if you really want to take transit, I’m going to tell you how.

Step 1. Getting To Ixmiquilpan

No matter where you’re coming from, the public transport gateway to Grutas Tolantongo is Ixmiquilpan.

  • There are no direct public transit routes, buses, colectivos, or otherwise to Grutas Tolantongo from anywhere in Mexico other than Ixmiquilpan.

Ixmiquilpan is not served by ADO or ETN but rather by smaller regional companies.

From Mexico City you can take Ovnibus or Transportes Frontera and from Santiago de Querétaro you can take Autobuses Conexión.

Bus fares start at around $230MXN [$14USD/$19CAD] round trip.

Step 2. Ixmiquilpan Bus Station To Mercado Morales

Once you reach Ixmiquilpan Central de Autobuses you need to make your way to Mercado Morales to catch the shuttle to Grutas Tolantongo.

  • A convenient alternative from Ixmiquilpan is to take a taxi directly to Grutas Tolantongo. This takes around an hour and costs about $800MXN [$50USD/$65CAD]

To get to Mercado Morales you can either take a taxi for about $70MXN [$4.25USD/$5.75CAD] or take a colectivo for $60MXN [$3.60USD/$5CAD] per person.

If there’s more than one person in your group, just jump in the taxi!

  • This market is your last opportunity to use the bathroom and grab anything you need like water shoes, bottled water, etc before reaching the Grutas.

Step 3: Shuttle To Grutas Tolantongo

From Mercado Morales you need to make your way on foot to the microbus area to find the shuttle.

You can use this map of the exact location and if you run into any issues just ask a local “Grutas Tolantongo microbus por favor?” and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Once you reach the microbus area at the San Antonio parking lot just look for the Grutas Tolantongo vans and sign and purchase your ticket.

Shuttle tickets cost $70MXN [$4.25USD/$5.75CAD] per person and there are multiple departures a day. Save the handy shuttle schedule below to stay organized!

Day Trip vs Overnight Stay

Because of the remote location of Grutas Tolantongo it’s understandable that many people are torn between spending the night or having a long day trip.

More often than not, a day trip is going to be the best option.

Grutas Tolantongo is a great park and there’s plenty to do and see in terms of the hot springs but that’s all there is here.

There is no real town to speak of near Tolantongo.

The nearest settlement is San Cristóbal, about 15mins drive from the park, which consists of two small shops, a roadside restaurant, a gas station and hotels/motels built to serve visitors to the Grutas.

The nearest larger town would be Cardonal which is about 35mins drive from the park and with a population of around 18,000 people, this is still a small place with not much to do but rest your head for the night.

There is also the option to stay inside the park at one of the four basic hotels which cannot be reserved in advance or in the camping zone.

  • Staying inside the park does not include the entrance fee. If you spend the night you will need to buy a ticket upon entry for each day you’ll be there.

If you’re an avid camper or are stopping in Tolantongo as part of a road trip, then spending the night is probably the best option for you.

The blue Tolantongo river cuts through the box canyon with mountains and a blue sky behind it.

However, if you are visiting the Grutas as a side trip from Mexico City, Querétaro, or Guanajuato your time will be better spent back at your base location after a day trip.

Even though the drives are long, five or six hours in the park is plenty of time to explore, relax and enjoy.

What To Expect At Tolantongo

Before I visited Grutas Tolantongo I really didn’t know what to expect. I had cobbled together a rough idea based on Google searches and social media posts but boy was I off the mark.

All my expectations for Grutas Tolantongo were turned on their head when I got there.

For starters, this isn’t just some hot springs in the middle of nowhere. This is a destination with amenities, shuttle buses, attractions, and more.

I was really surprised at how much had been considered of, in terms of guest experience. I was also surprised that the main reason I visited (the pools, of course) didn’t even end up being the highlight for me.

So let’s go over what to expect from the different aspects of the Grutas Tolantongo park.

Grutas Tolantongo Hours

  • Entrance Ticket Office: 6am – 10pm
  • Ticket Validity: 7am – 8pm
  • Caves, Tunnel, Waterfalls, Swimming Pools: 8am – 5pm
  • River, Thermal Pools: 8am – 9pm
  • Zipline: 8am – 5pm
  • Restaurants: 8am – 9pm
  • Grocery Store: 8am – 10pm
  • Internal Shuttle Service: 7am – 8pm

The Mountainside Pools

The mountainside pools are typically the main draw for people visiting Grutas Tolantongo. This is usually our first introduction to the park on social media and the thing that makes us say “I want to go there!”.

When you enter the park, this is the first attraction you’ll come across and was the first stop on my tour.

Because I chose the only tour that arrived before the crowds we had the pools completely to ourselves!

This meant it was really easy to take amazing photos, relax, and enjoy the scenery. It also made it easy to hop around the pools.

Ashlea in the pools at Grutas Tolantongo looking out over the mountains and canyon.

There are 40 pools altogether and they are all accessed by stairs. The change rooms and washroom facilities are located at the top of the stairs so make sure you visit those before heading down.

  • The pools located further down offer the best views but the water is warmer higher up so you’ll likely want to move around.

The views from the pools are exactly as they appear in pictures.

At the bottom of the stairs you’ll want to head to the pools on the right for the views looking out over a mountainous landscape and with cacti and trees.

Looking down the winding stairs to the thermal pools at Grutas Tolantongo with floral bushes brightening the path.

You’ll definitely want water shoes as the pools are quite slippery and the pathways are very rough on the feet.

As I mentioned before, I thought these pools would be the highlight but they weren’t!

So take your time relaxing here before continuing on to the other locations.

  • Grutas Tolantongo sits at an elevation of 1,280m/4,200 ft above sea level so physical movement can be tiring. Take it easy on the stairs back up and don’t be afraid to take a break.

The Cave & Tunnel

The next spot we visited on the tour was the cave. To say I had low expectations for this part of the park would be an understatement but I was quickly proved wrong.

The walk to the cave is easy, with a view point to stop and take photos along the way.

  • Keep an eye on the flowery bushes along the side of the path to spot hummingbirds!

Rounding the bend to the cave is surreal. A gorgeous veil of a waterfall rains down over the cave and it looks like something out of a movie.

There is a fence here to hang your cover up or towel before heading down the loose stone pathway into the cave.

The cost of entry to the cave is having to walk through the cold waterfall, falling like a curtain covering the opening. But once inside, that’s quickly the forgotten!

The waterfall raining down over the entrance to the cave at Grutas Tolantongo.

The water in the cave is like a hot tub. The cave is large inside with a high ceiling and the light from outside pours into the entrance making it feel open.

At the back of the cave there is a waterfall that pounds down and people take turns dipping in and out of it.

For the adventurous types, there’s another area of the cave that can be explored. You’ll need a head lamp or if you take a tour, the guide will have one to lead you with.

  • The current into the secondary cave is very strong. If you’re feeling tired or aren’t a strong swimmer, I recommend skipping this activity.

The excursion into the second cave is brief, at about 5-10 mins and there’s a rope to guide you in and out. The water is even warmer in there and you can see some bats hanging overhead.

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the cave more than the pools. The waterfall made it feel really secret and magical and the water was the perfect temperature.

Outside the entrance of the cave there is a set of stairs that climb up to the tunnel.

This isn’t the most exciting part of the park and I don’t recommend it for people averse to tight spaces but if you’re interested, it’s easy to check out from here.

The Thermal River

Much to my surprise, the thermal river was my favourite part of visiting Grutas Tolantongo.

The river runs the whole length of the park (and then some) and offers the most beautiful, milky blue water I’ve ever seen.

The thermal river is divided into sections by rock walls, which is a good thing because the currents are strong.

  • The current on the park side of the river is much calmer than on the treed side. The rapids on the treed side are fun to play in, just watch out for sharp rocks if you lose your footing.

Each section of the river has an easy entry point with rocks and sandbags functioning as steps. The water is the perfect temperature and the way the river rushes is actually really soothing.

Taken from inside the river at Grutas Tolantongo of the vibrant blue water and mountains in the distance.

Myself and some other people from my group would push our way through the rapids up to the top of our river section, prop our feet against rock and lie back in the currents.

It was like a water massage and with the sound of the running river, I felt like I could fall asleep.

Every once in a while we’d lift our feet and let the current carry us down the river and then we’d do it all over again and again and again.

With the vibrant blue water, fruit trees growing along the riverbank, and huge mountains bursting toward the sky, the thermal river was the highlight for me.

  • If you decide to camp at the park, this the designated area where you’ll be sleeping!

Amenities, Shops & Restaurants

The people behind Grutas Tolantongo have taken a lot into account when building this park and it’s a good thing they did, because there’s really nothing else around.

In addition to the main thermal water attractions there’s also a bridge, zipline, hiking trails, and swimming pools to keep you occupied.

  • The zipline has a weight requirement of over 35kg/77lbs and under 95kg/205lbs, and they will weigh you. You must be 10 or older, sign a waiver, and pay $250MXN [$15USD/$20CAD] cash.

To help you access all the areas of the park there is an internal shuttle service that costs $15-20MXN [$1USD/$1.25CAD] round trip.

A shop at Grutas Tolantongo selling water shoes, bathing suits, and other essentials.

If there’s anywhere you want to go within the park that’s not on the regular shuttle routes, you can hire a moto-taxi for $80MXN [$4.80/$6.50] which basically entails hopping on the back for a motorcycle and going for a ride!

There are four basic hotels within the grounds that essentially offer hot water, soap, towel, and a bed.

  • Hotels in the park cannot be reserved in advance. You must book upon arrival at the park and pay in cash. There are hotels outside the park that can be reserved in advance but there are very few businesses in the town.

There’s also the option to camp within the park along the riverbank and you don’t have to worry about being prepared, because they’ve thought of all that too!

Grutas Tolantongo offers rental of pretty much anything you’d need from a tent to sleeping pads, chairs to ice, and more. Items are priced out individually but a group of two can expect to pay around $2,500MXN [$150USD/$205CAD] for a one night stay plus food and drink.

In terms of food, there are several restaurants and snack bars within the park serving various Mexican dishes as well as some US dishes like burgers and fries.

The food isn’t fantastic, but it does the trick and there are plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options to choose from.

A large torta sandwich the size of a dinner plate served at the restaurant at Grutas Tolantongo.

  • If you’re really hungry try the Torta Tolantongo sandwich which includes pork, ham, chicken, sausage, chorizo, fried eggs, white cheese, breaded steak, mayo, beans, tomato, avocado, and jalapeños all for $190MXN [$11.50USD/$15.50CAD]

If you decide to camp, there is also a grocery store on site where you can pick up some meat and ingredients to whip up dinner and breakfast.

If you’ve forgotten to bring something, they’ve got that covered too! The shop in the park offers things like bathing suits, water shoes, sunblock, and souvenirs. The prices aren’t great so it’s best to use this as a last resort.

In addition to all this, the park offers certified first aid services for accidents within the park.

Given the remote nature of Grutas Tolantongo, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate travel insurance with emergency transportation coverage before you go.

What To Bring

When I was preparing for my trip to Grutas Tolantongo I did a lot of research about what to pack and when I booked my tour they sent me a packing list as well. But now that I’ve been, there’s a few things I’ll do differently next time.

I’ve put together a list of everything you’ll be glad you brought with you to Grutas Tolantongo but the big ones are water shoes, waterproof phone case, and a portable battery pack.

If you have these three things you’ll have a great time, but if you want to have an even better time follow this packing list:

  • Water Shoes With Grippy Sole
  • Bathing Suit/Trunks
  • Cover Up/T-Shirt For Walking Around
  • Comfy Clothes For The Drive
  • Sweater/Hoodie
  • Socks
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Moisturizer
  • Travel Shampoo
  • Travel Conditioner (the minerals are very drying)
  • Travel Body Wash/Soap
  • Cash

If you’re taking public transit be sure to also bring anti-nausea medication like Gravol.

And if you’re self-driving or travelling by public transit make sure you have an active Telcel sim card as this is the only service provider in this area.

  • The tour I took provided bottled water, snacks, and moisturizer, and my tour guide had a head lamp to take us through the cave.

There are lockers available for rent for $50MXN [$3USD/$4CAD] plus a $100MXN [$6USD/$8CAD] deposit, cash only.

A central amenity area at Grutas Tolantongo with lockers, shops, and restaurants.

On my tour we were able to leave all our spare belongings in the van and only take the things we needed with us. The driver napped in the locked van while he waited on us so everything was nice and secure.

  • Grutas Tolantongo is a remote location. Make sure you have travel insurance with emergency transportation coverage before your trip.

Top Tips For Tolantongo

Visiting the Grutas is going to be a great experience regardless, but if you want to have the best possible experience, follow my top tips below.

Take a Tour

My top piece of advice for visiting Grutas Tolantongo, is that unless you have a car and will be headed that way anyways, take a tour.

Grutas Tolantongo is in a remote area and there are no direct public transit routes. Trying to visit this area using a combination of buses and colectivos is going to take a very long time, require a solid grasp of Spanish, and an overnight stay.

Taking a tour means everything is taken care of for you and you can just sit back and enjoy the scenery.

The tour I took had bottled water and snacks, comfortable round trip transportation, a great tour guide, and a driver who guarded our belongings at all times and followed us with the van around the park.

This team made the day really care-free and saved us time doubling back to lockers or trekking back up to the parking lot over and over.

Beat The Crowds

When it comes to places like Grutas Tolantongo, the volume of people can make a big difference to your experience, so you’re going to want to plan accordingly.

There are two main ways to beat the crowds at Tolantongo:

  • Visit Mid-Week
  • Arrive As Early As Possible

If your travel plans permit, a mid-week visit is your best bet at seeing reduced numbers of visitors at the park, with Monday – Thursday being quietest the days of the week

If you do have to visit on a weekend make sure you aren’t picking a national holiday which is when the park is most crowded.

  • The pools are cleaned on Wednesdays which means the water is most fresh on Thursdays.

The other surefire way to beat the crowds is to arrive as early as possible. The tour that I took leaves Mexico City between 4:00 – 4:30am and arrives at the park right around opening. This tour leaves earlier than any other tour which is ultimately why I chose it and I’m so glad I did.

When we arrived at the park around 7:30am we virtually had the whole place to ourselves.

The pools were totally empty other than our group of six and we were able to relax and take pictures in total peace.

A few people staying nearby or in the park started to trickle in after 8am but we didn’t encounter larger groups of people for a couple of hours.

Getting to enjoy the dramatic scenery and gorgeous warm waters in pure serenity made a huge impact on how great my experience was.

Bring Water Shoes

Unfortunately for me, the water shoes I ordered didn’t arrive in time for my trip so I had to purchase some when I arrived at Tolantongo.

My tour guide very kindly offered to visit the shop and bring the shoes down to me so I could get into the mountainside pools and start enjoying the waters.

And let me tell you, my feet were not happy while I waited.

  • The water shoes in the park cost around $200MXN [$12USD/$16CAD] and aren’t great quality. Cheaper water shoes are available at roadside shops about an hour from the park but they may not be open. Your best bet is to bring a pair from home.

The walkways between the pools are a combination of faux grass runners that are very slippery when wet, and rough rock that was like walking on Legos.

Looking down Ashlea's legs with blue water shoes as she walks through Grutas Tolantongo.

The pools themselves had smooth floors and certain areas were filmy and had no traction.

The walks between areas like the pools to the cave or the river are longer than expected and have many loose stones, steps, and dirt paths you won’t want to trek along barefoot.

The cave, tunnel, and river all have natural floors which means silt, sand, and stones that can be hard on the feet. The river also has large, sometimes sharp rocks so you will definitely want water shoes there.

Wear Waterproof Sunblock

When I was at Grutas Tolantongo it was around 18C/65F which was a perfect temperature for dipping in and out of hot springs.

The pools are largely shaded and the cave is totally covered but the river sees direct sunlight most of the day.

Even on a cooler day, the sun was high and I ended up with sunburn on my arms, back and face, which was made worse by the drying effects of the mineral-rich waters.

Everyone visiting Tolantongo should wear a strong waterproof sunblock, regardless of skin tone, and bring some lotion to moisturize your skin before heading home.

Get Travel Insurance

Grutas Tolantongo is truly in the middle of nowhere, and when you get there, you’ll see what I mean.

While the park offers basic first aid medical services, they aren’t equipped to deal with much more than some cuts and bruises so any accident greater than that will require travel to a hospital, located at least an hour away.

A first aid tent off the path to the cave at Grutas Tolantongo.

Grutas Tolantongo is full of hazards like slippery paths and steps, sharp rocks, steep cliffs, and rushing water.

It’s a fantastic place to visit but safety should always come first.

Make sure you have adequate travel insurance coverage for the duration of your trip and that your policy covers emergency transportation should you require transportation or airlift to a medical facility or hospital.


You’ve got questions about visiting Tolantongo and I’ve got answers!

Is Grutas Tolantongo Natural?

Yes and no. The thermal waters at Grutas Tolantongo are natural and attractions like the cave, river, and waterfalls are also natural.

The famous cliffside pools however, are manmade along with other aspects like the swimming pools, bridge, and zipline.

Why is the Tolantongo Water Blue?

The waters at Tolantongo are a vibrant, milky, baby blue due to the minerals the water picks up as it passes through the rocks. Chemical reactions from minerals like magnesium, calcium, and barium create the otherworldly hue of blue.

Do You Need Water Shoes for Tolantongo?

Yes, yes, yes, you absolutely need water shoes for Tolantongo.

Because of the natural surroundings you will very often be walking on stones, rough and slick areas, and even dirt. To save your feet and protect against falls you need water shoes with a decent grip.

What Is the Closest Airport to Grutas de Tolantongo?

The closest airport to Grutas Tolantongo is Querétaro International Airport and while I think Querétaro is a safe place to visit with lots to do and see, Mexico City International Airport offers more flights as well as tour and bus options to the Grutas.

Summary: Grutas Tolantongo

Grutas Tolantongo is one of the most memorable places I’ve been in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world for that matter!

The rugged mountains juxtaposed against the soft blue river is a sight I’ll never tire of.

This is not somewhere you happen upon, it’s a place you have to decide to visit and I don’t think that’s a decision you’ll regret. Whether you decide to camp on the river’s edge or take the 4am day trip from Mexico City, Grutas Tolantongo will leave a lasting impression.