Visiting Las Grutas De Tolantongo: Travel & Planning Tips

Although the literal translation of “Las Grutas de Tolantongo” means “The Caves of Tolantongo,” this area is much more than caves. This includes several 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 and flow down into a river, which runs along the bottom of the canyon.

If you find yourself in Central Mexico, spending a few days at Las Grutas de Tolantongo is a great way to relax, have fun, and capture those much sought-after Instagram pics. 

This post will discuss everything you need about the Las Grutas de Tolantongo hot springs resort. We review what to see, the costs, top tips 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 visiting the hot springs of Las Grutas de Tolantongo?”

And though it can feel touristy on the weekends, visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo is 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 visited several hot springs throughout Mexico, but none had the uniqueness of swimming inside a pitch-dark tunnel and caves. Exploring the caves was our favorite activity at Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
  • Picturesque pools overlooking the canyon: The hot pools at the top were the most scenic 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 the month is a great time to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo.

Visiting During the Summer Months

If you plan to visit during the summer’s heat, jumping 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. However, even during winter, 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 increase, especially if you plan to stay for multiple days.

Below, we document all the costs of visiting the Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort complex.

Entrance Tickets: 150 pesos/person/day
Parking: 20 pesos/car/day
Camping: Free, but you must 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

Blue river at Grutas de Tolantongo
Warm water river rushing through the canyon at Tolantongo

Surprisingly, there are many different activities to do when visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo. There is so much more than simply dipping in the famous, photogenic hot pools.

The Thermal Hot Springs Pools (Las Pozas)

The Thermal Pools at Las Grutas de Tolantongo
Copyright: IG @grutasdetolantongomexico

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 pool 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 a wonderful photo opportunity.

Pro Tip: Different pools have different temperatures of water. Pools with higher temperatures tend to be higher up the canyon wall.

The Tolantongo Caves

The Caves at Las Grutas de Tolantongo

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 at the southeastern end of the resort. Visitors can enter the cave through the large entrance, swim in the warm waters, and explore all the hidden cavities inside.

Though space can be cramped, especially on weekends, exploring the cave and discovering all the different cave rooms is fun.

Pro Tip: Bring a waterproof cellphone pouch if you want to take pictures while in the cave. We didn’t bring one along when we visited, but we saw almost every other visitor taking pictures with their cell phones through these waterproof bags.

The Tunnel (El Tunél)

Man standing at the entrance of the cave at Grutas de Tolantongo

Situated just above the caves is a 15-meter-long tunnel; visitors can enter and carefully swim through hot pools to the end and back. You must walk on unstable, rocky ground, so wearing water shoes is a good idea.

Because of its 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. So we recommend bringing your own waterproof flashlight or cell phone (in a waterproof bag, of course!)

Also Read: The Huasteca Potosina Waterfalls: Top Tips & Planning Ahead

The River (Rio)

Warm water river flowing at Grutas de Tolantongo
Copyright: @manchatenews

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 constantly bumping 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.

River Tip: The river area can get crowded and loud as you approach the caves. But the farther away you walk away from the caves, the quieter and less crowded the river bank gets.

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 possible to arrive at the Las Grutas de Tolantongo resort on a weekday. And preferably before Friday.

The entire complex is packed with domestic tourists from Friday to Sunday.

We arrived on a Tuesday, and the crowds were very manageable for the two days we were there. We were often the only ones in the water during our swims in the thermal pools and the river!

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 four 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 canyon’s rim, and the other three sites are at the base of the canyon.

When you purchase your entry tickets, you can drive 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 was 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 to 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 Useful

Having waterproof pouches provides 3 MAJOR benefits.

  1. Take pictures while in the water: When you are in the caves and the tunnel, water splashes everywhere, and it’s impossible not to get your phone wet without using one of these pouches.
  2. Use your phone’s flashlight when in the tunnel: The tunnel is pitch black, and without bringing your own light source, navigating to the tunnel’s end is impossible.
  3. Avoid renting expensive lockers: This waterproof pouch lets you bring your money and valuables instead of renting expensive lockers.

5. Bring the Proper Footwear

While unnecessary, we 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 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

People and tents hanging out by the river at Grutas de Tolantongo
People and tents hanging out by the river

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. Remember, 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 8 pm that same day. If you decide to sleep one night, you must buy two single-day tickets.

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 in the resort complex, leave at sunset, and sleep again in the hotel and parking lot 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.

The resort has three main restaurants within the Las Grutas complex and many more “fast food” stands.

What To Bring: Las Grutas De Tolantongo Packing List

  • Waterproof cellphone pouch
  • Water shoes
  • Sunscreen or a wetsuit shirt to protect your skin

Our Grutas De Tolantongo Resort Itinerary

We spent two days and one night visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo.

Day 1

On our first day, we arrived at 11 am 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 where people were supposed to line up during the weekends based on where they set up the ropes.

We returned to our campsite just before sunset and made dinner in our van.

Day 2

After breakfast, we drove back up to the canyon rim, and just after exiting the ticket checkpoint, we re-entered a second checkpoint to visit the thermal hot pools.

We spent two hours hopping around from one hot pool to another. But we must admit, though the hot pools were photogenic and came with great, overlooking scenery, we were ready to leave by around the 2-hour mark.

Afterward, we drove out of the Las Grutas de Tolantongo complex onto our next destination.

How Much We Spent

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!

With proper time management, though visiting Las Grutas de Tolantongo can be done in a single-day trip, we enjoyed taking our time and exploring all that the hot springs resort had to offer.

If you found this post helpful or have any questions, please comment in the comment section below!

Happy traveling!

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