Day trips were a huge part of our week in New Mexico. With three little kids, though we limited this to two-hour road trips (or less). During one of our adventures, we ventured to Cochiti Lake and the Spence Hot Springs that also included some breathtaking views along the way.
First up was Cochiti Lake where we loaded up with two cars with every snack imaginable for our full day out. About an hour and a half from Albuquerque, the gorgeous lake was packed with people on this particularly sweltering day. While my kiddos right for the water to swim, you can also go sailing, wind surfing, kayaking, and fishing. There’s also an area for boating, if that’s your thing. There are also tons of shaded (!) picnic areas where you can sit and leave your stuff, and get some relief from the heat. The one bummer about this location was the amount of rocks! Don’t get me wrong, I love rocks but this lake is filled with rocks where you’ll find them on the sand and in the water itself. And this isn’t just tiny rocks, there are some serious huge boulder-like rocks that can be really uncomfortable to maneuver around. Take it from me: I didn’t have water shoes and got a huge cut that I actually thought was a rock lodged into my heel. Not fun! After more swimming, exploring, and then lunch, we decided to leave and venture to the Spence Hot Spring.
Most our drives and excursions have includes your typical road/highway situation that usually leads to a round of how long are we are going to get there. This was certainly not the case on our way to the Spence Hot Spring. The drive started as the car went up and up (and further up) the most glorious mountains that I’ve ever seen. The two little ones were fast asleep, but I keep telling our older girl how incredible/magical/special it was to be seeing these spectacular mountains. I tried to hone in on that I’ve never seen anything like this before and I think she got that, but was also scared but all the bumping up the mountain that had the car very close to the edge at certain points. We stopped along the way at some parts – taking in the free-range cows in the forest and the most stunning Valle Grande.
We finally arrived at Spence Hot Spring in the Jemez Mountains to experience even more gorgeousness. After parking, we walked around five miles (this included some steep and challenging climbs) where we finally found two small hot springs tucked away in the forest. The kids were psyched to get in and we all loved soaking in the warm water. The biggest challenge was how rocky the second hot spring was where my husband actually lost his grip and fell in with my youngest. All are ok, but still worth noting if you have little ones. The smaller spring (first one) was much mellower that the girls equally loved. Sitting there amongst the mountains and flourishing trees was such a beautiful way to end our day of adventures, which took some serious ice cream bribery to finally get the girls out of the water.
Then, we went to the cute town of Jemez Springs for dinner at the charming Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon, a quick and easy dining option for a big group. The Western-style restaurant also had an old-school saloon area, music, jukebox and deer heads on the wall. After diner we walked around the town a bit before we headed back to Albuquerque, completely in awe of what we experienced and saw on our wonderful adventure.