Las Grutas de Tolantongo is located in the state of Hidalgo 3 hours northeast of Mexico city. It remained a well-kept secret well into the 1970’s until the resort and grottos were constructed and the world learned its name. Since then it’s gone on to achieve global fame.
Tolantongo isn’t a town, but a box-canyon deep in the Valle de Mezquital. The name (misspelt through translations) comes from the Nahuatl word Tonaltonko, meaning “Home where it feels warm” or “Place where it flows warm”. The warm River Tolantongo comes from an underground source and is the reason for the name.
Las Grutas de Tolantongo (the Tolantongo Caves) are part of a resort, but it’s not a resort like you and I are familiar with; it’s run by an association consisting of 112 families that own the ejido (a type of communal property). The families all work the land and the resort—which was created in 1970 with no government or outside help.
There are more than 30 warm mineral pools next to the hotels on the mountainside and two main caves. The chambers are heated and feel much like a steam bath. Once you get there it’s like a city unto itself. There are 3 hotels, campsites, restaurants, and ziplining, not to mention hot springs, a river, a canyon and caves. Disfruta!
How to get there
By public transport: Las Grutas de Tolantongo is 3 hours outside of Mexico City. Buses run from Mexico City to Ixmiquilpan, and from there, small buses run to Tolantongo—but transportation to the grottos is not totally reliable, and most visitors arrive by car.
By car (from Mexico City): Take the México-Pachuca highway to Ixmiquilpan. Once there, take the road to the Church of San Antonio where you’ll exit toward the Cardonal municipality. It’s a rather bumpy road, but it’ll take you to Las Grutas de Tolantongo.
What to consider
- Wear water shoes to explore the caves—there are lots of stones that can bruise your feet—and it’s wet almost everywhere.
- The day-rate is $120 pesos to gain access to the caves and pools.
- There’s a lot to do there; try to stick around a couple days.
- There is no “low-season”; but if you want to avoid the crowds it’s best to go during the week.
- All caves and pools are family friendly.
- You can camp—rent a tent or take a tent.
- The 3 hotels do not take reservations. You have to show up and hope there’s space, but there are 231 rooms total, so chances are good.