Grutas Tolantongo Mexico: What You Need to Know Before You Visit
Everyone loves infinity pools and and hot spring pools. But have you heard of Mexico’s Tolantongo Caves or Grutas Tolantongo? They are a collection of pools heated by the surrounding volcanic mountains and built into a cliff amongst the Mezquital Canyon in the state of Hidalgo in Mexico. Although the heated pools are the main attraction, the resort offers much more — including two grottos with natural spring water, a cave with natural showers, a pristine turquoise river that runs through the canyon, and several waterfalls. This is definitely a bucket list destination!
Because the Tolantongo Caves are so secluded and internet/Wi-Fi services are limited in the area, it can be pretty difficult to plan a trip. Which is why I’m going to tell you everything you need to know before you visit this magical place!
Best Time to Go
Please be aware that Tolantongo is a very popular attraction and thousand of visitors visit every day. I’m not sure if there is a “low-season,” but what I can tell you is that I visited in November and the crowds were reasonable. Additionally, the weather was perfect and the water was warm. Pro tip: wake up super early so you can enjoy and have the heated pools all to yourself — they open at 8am.
How To Get There
The nearest international airport is in Mexico City so, wherever you’re flying from, this is your best bet. From here, you can rent a car and drive yourself, or you can travel by bus with Flecha Roja or Ovnibus. The bus route is a little more complicated but definitely doable, just be aware that there are several taxi/bus transfers so you’ll be hopping from one vehicle to another. I suggest driving since you’ll save both money and time.
If you drive, please do so while the sun is out and avoid driving at night. The roads are a little bumpy and you’ll also encounter some sharp turns, which is why it’s safer to drive during the day.
The total travel time is about 3.5 hours from Mexico City, maybe 4 if you stop for a bathroom break and snacks. Other than that, the route is pretty straightforward — you take the Mexico – Pachuca highway to Ixmiquilpan (85), then exit on Libramiento a Cardonal, and that will guide you straight to Las Grutas de Tolantongo. You can find the detailed directions on the Google Maps app, which has a feature that allows you to download maps and access them while you’re off-line.
Hotel and Accommodations
There are about 4 hotels inside the park but, like I said, internet connection is limited, therefore, the hotels do not provide online services (like room reservations and booking). You simply have to arrive and hope that a room is available. I suggest arriving early Thursday or Friday morning — your chances will be pretty good.
For the same reason, they do not accept electronic payments, which means you have to pay cash. Rooms start as low as $30 USD and only go up to $60 USD per night. What a steal!!
If you would rather camp, there are designated camping areas along the river. You can rent a tent from one of the hotels or bring your own. Either way, you still have to pay a park entrance+parking fee of $8 USD per day, per person (not valid 24hrs). For example; I went with my dad and we paid a total of $32 USD for two days.
The park offers almost every service you can possibly need — bus services, inner shuttle services (to drive you around the park since it’s so big), ziplining, camping equipment rentals (like chairs, tables, grills), locker rooms…you name it. They also have blankets, inflatable mattresses, firewood, ice, pillows, and padlocks for sale in case you forget anything.
What To Bring
Like I said above, the hotels offer almost everything you could possibly need, but, here is a list of things you should bring yourself:
- water shoes
- snacks and water for the roadtrip
- enough cash to last your entire stay
- a GoPro and/or water proof phone case (trust me, you’ll want and need it)
- a waterproof headlamp if you’re curious to explore the caves
- a padlock to store away your belongings at the lockers near the waterfall and caves
- a book or pre-downloaded Netflix movies/TV shows to entertain you when you lack internet connection
How Much Does It Cost
Traveling to the Tolantongo Caves is one of the most affordable trips I’ve ever taken. Here’s a summary of my expenses (USD):
- Flight from SFO to MEX: $360
- Car rental + gas: $100 – $150
- Hotel: $64 for two nights
- Entrance Fee to the Park: $16 for two days
- Food and snacks: $45 – $60 for two days
GRAND TOTAL: $585 – $650
However, because there’s so much to do and see in Mexico, I would suggest you add this to an already existing trip. Make the flight worth it and explore Mexico City or take a second road trip elsewhere.
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