By Eileen Ogintz

ABIQUIU, NM — It’s a risk as well as an adventure – stopping for a green chile cheeseburger lunch (a New Mexico specialty) at a grocery store/gas station along the state’s Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail.  We were at Bodes General Store  (established 1919  but long before that was a post office, stage coach stop and jail as well as a store )  in the tiny (under 600 people—one person per square mile)  town of Abiquiu which incidentally is where Georgia O’Keefe famously lived very simply.  You can visit her home by appointment. Abiquiu was at the beginning of the Old Spanish Trail that headed north from New Mexico and West to Los Angeles in the mid 19th Century.

Green Chile Cheesburger in Abuiqiu NM
Green Chile Cheesburger in Abuiqiu NM

Besides one of the biggest cheeseburgers I’d ever seen ( a half pound of ground sirloin!) we dug into red chile cheese fries (think fries soaked in red chilies, beans, ground beef and topped with onion, tomato and lettuce) – all that for less than $20, washed down by all the iced tea and Dr. Pepper we can drink.

After lunch, though, turned out to be one of my favorite off the beaten track adventures this trip—Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa  about an hour outside Santa Fe.  Certainly locals know this place—the 43 rooms and two houses typically are taken from spring through fall.

It’s easy to see why. There are 11 different mineral pools where geothermal mineral waters have flowed for thousands of years. Ojo is the only hot springs in the world with four different types of mineral waters. Temperatures range from 80-105 degrees. (Kids 12 and under are only welcome in the large pool.)

I join others in the Iron Spring bubbling up from the natural pebble floor.  The water is said to be good for my blood and immune system; The Soda “steam” pool is good for digestion. Arsenic water is said to be for relief of arthritis among other conditions and Lithia water to relieve depression.

One of the relaxation pools at Ojo Caliente hot springs in NM
One of the relaxation pools at Ojo Caliente hot springs in NM

All that for just $20 (during the week) and $32 (weekends).

My favorite is the soak in the private outdoor tub ($45) with its own kiva fireplace.  I look up at the rock; there’s not another person in sight. Heaven!

I wish I had more time—for a spa treatment or two. Down to Earth Moor Mud (get covered in mineral rich mud followed by a private bath-just $89, is a bargain compared to most resort prices. Maybe a Custom Massage or Earth Keepers’ Hot Stone Massage?

The Ojo Caliente Signature Milagro Relaxation wrap, though, didn’t impress me.  I was wrapped in a light cotton blanket, followed by a heavier wool blanket. They idea is the heat will make you release toxins. You lay in a dark room for 20 minutes as music plays.  I wriggled out after about 15 minutes. But it only cost $12.

The same owners have recently opened the much more manicured Sunrise Springs in Santa Fe- an integrative wellness resort (a place for moms and grown daughters as you must be 21!)  This is the place for “digital detox,” to go on a “wild heart” meditation walk (connect with your “authentic self” as you explore the 70-acre desert landscape.   Care for the plants and learn how to better grow things. Take an art class, yoga, or help train puppies who are learning to be service dogs.  There are animal interactions with chickens too.  No wine is served at dinner so that you will be more in touch with what you are eating.

Meet with a nutrition counselor or an acupuncturist, a chiropractor or  a sleep consultant.  And there are all varieties of spa treatments.  Come for half a day or a week. Split our stay between the two places with very different vibes.

Next time—a mud wrap and maybe time to play with the puppies at Sunrise Springs.