JEMEZ SPRINGS — A wrong turn taken 23 years ago has blossomed into a mountainside oasis for those who enjoy the therapy of natural spring water.
Jemez Hot Springs, off of NM 4 in the Village of Jemez Springs, started out almost by accident, according to owner Tanya Struble.
“We found Jemez Springs on a chance day drive with some friends after a wrong turn and moved into a cabin two weeks later,” Struble said.
After purchasing the cabin, Struble said, she was commuting to Albuquerque for work when some of her friends decided to move out and help her purchase the entire plot of land the cabin was on.
“We started as young people in our late 20s and had a dream of being entrepreneurs, and little by little we grew,” she said.
Jemez Hot Springs has gone through three phases since its inception, Struble said.
“First we were Giggling Star Cabins,” she said. “Then we rented our cabins overnight and the natural pool was for the guests that stayed here.”
After that phase, Struble said, her business opened the pool to the public, which boosted attendance immensely.
“Now we have four pools just for private use and our cabins are occupied by staff and friends,” she said.
The irony of the property Struble originally bought is that it didn’t have a single pool on it 23 years ago.
Instead, on the north side of the property was an old bath house built in the mid-1880s, surrounded by natural wilderness, a creek and a few cabins.
The bath house was and is still in ill repair, with gaping holes in the ceiling and walls, a monument of a bygone era that attracts many tourists for a quick photo.
“We took a big chance on the first pool, because the bath house had been abandoned since 1948,” Struble said. “They took everything out of the bath house and it was used for storage for the electric co-op when electricity came to the area.”
So to create the first pool, Struble said she went in search of the water rights and worked with the state engineer’s office for a year and a half to get started.
“Opening this pool to the public was a whole different scenario,” she said. “We had to work with the health department, and in the end, we actually helped set standards for this type of business because of how unique it is.”
According to Struble, no chlorine is used in any of the four pools Jemez Hot Springs has open.
“We have the flow-through water, but we also use green technology to keep the water clean,” she said. “Also, we have had perfect inspections during the time we were inspected by the health department and I don’t know anyone else that can say that.”
The green products used to clean the four natural pools are a company secret, she said.
“What we use is approved by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency),” she said. “We went through all of those hoops years ago.”
Today, Jemez Hot Springs is a private experience with a cost of $25 for one hour, $40 for two hours, $60 for a half day and $75 for the entire day.
Customer Jeanny Pham said she traveled from Albuquerque to enjoy the calming waters.
“It’s really not that far, yet it feels like you are in a whole different place, and it’s really calming,” Pham said.
She is gearing up to start school as a freshman at the University of New Mexico and will probably utilize the hot springs during mid-term exams.
“It’s nice to know a place like this exists, for me to come to an escape that is so close to campus,” Pham said.
Struble has a few ground rules, which include no children under 14 years of age, no pets and no alcohol on the premises. Swimsuits and other appropriate attire are required
“I want this environment to be comfortable for those who come and visit,” she said. “This is really the closest Zen spot to the city, so when guests come out, I want them to feel like they are far away, not just from work, but also from their worries.”