How to visit Grutas Tolantongo: Central Mexico’s hidden thermal paradise

Grutas Tolantongo, a paradise nestled in the mountains of the Mezquital Valley in Hidalgo, Mexico, is an enchanting hot spring resort. Here’s a complete visitor’s guide.

The resort, run by a cooperative of local families, has been a site of relaxation and rejuvenation for centuries, owing to the area’s warm thermal waters, which are believed to have therapeutic properties.

The name Tolantongo translates to “home where it feels warm” in the local indigenous language.

grutas tolantongo

A surreal river of bright turquoise waters heated by the earth’s core flows through the lush green valley, a breathtaking sight further augmented by the park’s natural hot springs, pools, grottos, and caves.

Here’s a complete guide to visiting the Tolantongo Caves, including tips on how to get there, staying the night, restaurants, and more!

🚗 Additional info: I visited Grutas Tolantongo together with Huasteca Potosina (self-drive). You can check my driving route and this route is highly recommended for adventure travelers!

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🙋 Is Grutas Tolantongo worth visiting? 

You’re probably asking this question because you’ve seen those beautiful photos on Instagram. Yes, it is worth visiting, but note that there are a lot of logistics involved in going here.

grutas tolantongo
@lewildexplorer / Instagram

Most of those are not explained on social media but hey, nice pictures are the best souvenirs to take home these days.

Personally, I feel like IT IS WORTH VISITING, especially if you are already in Mexico City, but consider that this is an outdoor destination and requires a lot of physical work.

💡 Fun facts about Grutas Tolantongo

Its waters are naturally therapeutic

The water flowing in Grutas Tolantongo is not just ordinary spring water. It is geothermally heated by the volcanic mountains, maintaining a constant temperature of around 36-38°C (96-100°F).

This warmth, combined with its mineral content, is believed to have therapeutic benefits.

It is locally managed

Despite its popularity, Grutas Tolantongo is not a commercially-owned resort. The park is collectively run by a cooperative of about 120 local families who take care of the place, making it a unique community-based tourism spot.

It has diverse flora and fauna

Grutas Tolantongo is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. It’s common to spot hummingbirds, butterflies, and unique vegetation, adding to the park’s vibrant ecosystem.

grutas tolantongo

It has a cave exploration

The largest grotto, or cave, in the park is around 40 meters deep. Inside, stalactites and stalagmites formed over thousands of years provide a stunning spectacle and an exciting opportunity for exploration.

Unusual pool experience

The park’s thermal pools are built into the side of mountains, creating an unusual and beautiful infinity pool experience with panoramic views of the valley.

Grutas Tolantongo

Archaeological artifacts

Archaeological artifacts have been discovered in the area, indicating it was likely inhabited by indigenous communities centuries ago. These artifacts are preserved and on display at a local museum.

Grutas Tolantongo can be visited all-year-round

Grutas Tolantongo remains open throughout the year due to the consistent warm temperature of the thermal waters, making it a perfect spot for winter dips too.

🗺️ Map of Grutas Tolantongo

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🗺️ Open Grutas Tolantongo Map on Google

🚗💨 How to get to Grutas Tolantongo

Self-drive from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo 

If you are coming from Mexico City and going to Grutas Tolantongo, renting a car can be the easiest way to have a hassle-free journey.

Rental Cars in Mexico City start as low as $25 USD per day, and several different types of cars are available depending on what kind of experience you’re looking for. 

Grutas Tolantongo

Just follow the Grutas Tolantongo location on Google Maps – it’s really accurate. The Waze app also gives you alternative routes for traffic.

The drive is safe so long as you are comfortable in driving in another country. Driving is more convenient as private cars can park at the entrance of the pools. The parking fee is 30 pesos ($2 USD) per vehicle.

🅿️ If you are taking the shuttle service to Grutas Tolantongo, busses are only allowed to park at an area about 8 KM away from the entrance.

Bus from Mexico City to Grutas Tolantongo

This is a more tedious way because it is longer and there are many steps involved. I understand that some of you are adventure travelers or backpackers and this may be a cheaper way for you to visit Grutas Tolantongo:

To take the bus, go to the Mexico City Terminal del Norte. Don’t look for busses going to Grutas Tolantongo but look for Ixmiquilpan.

You can buy bus tickets to Ixqumilpan in advance, but you can also buy them from the ticket offices at the bus station (from $15-$20 USD).

The busses depart from Platform 7, and the trip lasts about 1.5-2 hours.

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🗺️ Open on Google Maps

From the Ixmiquilpan bus station, take a taxi to Grutas Tolantongo for 400-600 pesos (around $30-$40 USD). You can haggle with the drivers and deal a better price.

For a cheaper option, there are shared shuttle services to Grutas Tolantongo by the San Antonio Church parking lot, a 21-min walk from the Ixmiquilpan bus terminal. [See walking directions]

Don’t feel like walking? Take a shared van (collective) to get to San Antonio Church from Ixmiquilpan bus station.

Once at the church, just ask around for the “colectivo a Grutas Tolantongo” and the locals will point you in the right direction. The colectivo costs 60 pesos ($3.55 USD).

Below are the operating hours from Ixmiquilpan to Tolantongo:

  • Monday-Thursday: 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM and 5:30 PM
  • Friday-Sunday: departs every hour from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM

From Tolantongo to Ixmiquilpan, the colectivo runs from:

  • Monday-Sunday: 7:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 1:30 PM, 3:30 PM, and 5:30 PM

🧭 Best Grutas Tolantongo tours

🎟️ Admission ticket prices for Tolantongo

The admission tickets to Grutas Tolantongo costs 180 pesos ($11 USD), from ages 5 and above. This is a full-day general admission ticket that allows you to access the:

Grutas Tolantongo
  • Caves and tunnels
  • Trek and hiking trails
  • Thermal pools
  • Suspension Bridge
  • Waterfalls

There are two zones within the park namely Paraiso Escondido and La Gruta and both are included in the admission fee.

🎟️ Please note that this is not a 24-hour ticket and is only valid from 7:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Meaning, if you are staying the night, you need to pay for 2 tickets.

⛰️ Things to do in Grutas Tolantongo

Swim in the Grutas Tolantongo hot springs

📍 Location of the Hot Springs

There are several hot springs scattered across the park. Many of these thermal pools are built into the sides of the mountains, providing a breathtaking view.

The temperature of the thermal pools and hot springs can vary but generally hover around 35-40°C (95-104°F), being heated by geothermal activity.

These temperatures make the springs warm and relaxing rather than excessively hot.

Since this is in the mountain, transferring from one pool to another can get cold. By 4:00 PM, the sun is not hitting the pools anymore so these areas will be shaded.

Grutas Tolantongo

While there are many pools inside the Grutas Tolantongo, the most famous spot that you see on Instagram is another steep and long hike, which is the upper part of the Grutas Tolantongo.

To get there easily and safely, you can take the shuttle busses (colectivo) at the park entrance, which costs 15 pesos ($0.89 USD), running from 7 AM – 8 PM.

Instead of hiking up, you can take the colectivo both ways. This is a shared taxi, but you can also tell the driver you want a private ride, which will cost 30 pesos ($2 USD).

🛑 Important safety note: These pools are everyone’s motivation to visit Grutas Tolantongo (for the gram), but please, for your safety, take the colectivo and do not attempt the hike. If you’re driving, follow this direction.

See the caves and tunnels 

The name ‘Tolantongo’ translates to ‘home where it feels warm’ in Nahuatl language, which references the heated mineral waters inside the caves.

The main cave’s depth isn’t extremely deep, allowing you to stand in many parts. A warm water stream flows through it, and the cave is spacious.

grutas tolantongo

The water level varies, with deeper spots reaching about waist or chest level for an average adult. Some caves and tunnels to visit include:

  • La Gloria and La Luna are smaller grottos, less crowded than the main cave. Accessing these caves isn’t particularly challenging; the water depth varies like the main cave.
  • Tunnel of Love: The Tunnel of Love is accessible and doesn’t require a strenuous hike.

🛑 Generally, it’s safe to swim if you’re a confident swimmer, but always exercise caution, especially when traveling with children. It’s dark as you go in so bring a waterproof headlamp!

Take photos at the suspension bridge 

📍 Location of Suspension Bridge

A visit to Grutas Tolantongo would not be complete if you did not capture the moments and breathtaking views in the area.

Grutas Tolantongo

You can take great pictures by the thermal pools and walk across the suspension bridge that spans the picturesque canyon, providing a thrilling vantage point to capture the natural beauty of Grutas Tolantongo.

Tolantongo River 

📍 Location of Tolantongo River

The warm river is another major attraction in the park. The volcanic activity in the area naturally heats it.

Grutas Tolantongo

The river’s depth and current can vary, and while it’s generally safe for swimming, it’s important to be cautious, particularly after heavy rainfall.

The river is heated naturally and provides a pleasant swimming experience. The depth can vary, with some parts shallow enough to stand and others requiring swimming.

⛺ This is the camp site in Grutas Tolantongo where you can rent tents.

Tolantongo Zipline 

📍 Location of zipline 

The zipline offers an aerial view of the stunning natural landscape of the park, including its mountains, river, and thermal pools. It’s about 1,890 meters.

The price of the zipline is 250 pesos ($15 USD).

Grutas Tolantongo

Hiking trails in Grutas Tolantongo 

The entire area is nestled within scenic mountainous landscapes, so you’ll find opportunities for exploration and hiking as you move between the different attractions such as the caves, the hot spring pools, La Gloria and La Luna, the river, and more.

🎒 What to bring/pack for Grutas Tolantongo 

When visiting Grutas Tolantongo, it’s important to pack a few essential items for a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Grutas Tolantongo

Here are five things you should consider bringing:

  1. Swimwear: Grutas Tolantongo is famous for its natural hot springs and thermal pools, so don’t forget your swimwear so you can take a dip and relax in the warm waters.
  1. Towel: A towel is essential for drying off after swimming or enjoying the hot springs. Having a towel to sit on or use as a cushion when lounging by the pools is also handy.
  1. Sunscreen and Hat: The sun can be pretty intense in the area, so protecting yourself from harmful UV rays is crucial. Apply sunscreen generously and bring a hat to shield your face and head from direct sunlight.
  1. Water Shoes or Sandals: Grutas Tolantongo has rocky terrain and natural surfaces, so having water shoes or sandals with good traction will help you navigate comfortably and protect your feet.
  1. Snacks and Water: While dining options are available on-site, bringing snacks and bottled water is always a good idea to keep you hydrated and energized during your visit.

Aside from these, remember to pack any personal medications, cash,  a change of clothes, and any other items specific to your needs. It’s also advisable to check the weather forecast and pack accordingly.

✨ Useful tips for visiting Grutas Tolantongo

There are hotels in Grutas Tolantongo

There are 5 main hotels in each area of Grutas Tolantongo, with different room types are prices:

  • Single room for 2 pax, 1 bed: 900 pesos ($53 USD). add 100 pesos for a room with balcony
  • Double room for 4 pax, 2 beds: 1,200 pesos ($70 USD); add 100 pesos for a room with balcony
  • Double King Size for 4 pax, 2 King beds: 1,600 pesos ($95 USD)
  • Cabin Room for 5 pax with 2 double beds and 1 sofa bed: 1,900 pesos ($112 USD)
  • Triple King size room for 6 pax with 3 King beds: 2,200 pesos ($129 USD)

The sections are La Gruta, Paraiso Escondido, La Huerta, Molanguito, and Paraiso II. Check-in is as early as 8:00 AM or 3:30 PM, depending on availability, while check-out is at 12:00 PM.

The most luxurious accommodation is the Paraiso II section, where single rooms start from 1,600 pesos ($95 USD).

Unfortunately, you can only book your stay upon arrival, which is a hit-and-miss. You can’t call nor book online.

If you arrive early, you will get a hotel instantly. It’s not always full and people are checking out by 12 PM.

Just make sure to do this first before going around the park. The earlier, the better. All payments must be made in cash only, and pets are not allowed.

No ATM in the park

All transactions in the park are cash only. Make sure to withdraw from Mexico City. If you’re staying the night, remember that the hotels are also expecting cash payments so take at least 5,000 pesos to be sure.

  •  All room’s rentals are in the park. Just when you arrive to the park. We don’t have reservations for internet or phone.
  •  All payments all in the park and in the hotel are in cash. We don’t have ATM’s in the park.
Grutas Tolantongo

Drone flying in Grutas Tolantongo

One of my acquaintances lost his drone while flying around Grutas Tolantongo. The mountains are blocking the landing point, so if you bring a drone, put it in manual settings.

It is not prohibited to fly a drone in Tolantongo but ensure you are landing and taking off in an open area. Sunset is the best time as people tend to leave by 3:00 PM.

⁉️ FAQ: Tolantongo Caves Travel

Grutas Tolantongo is located in the Mezquital Valley, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, approximately 125 miles (200 kilometers) northeast of Mexico City.

Costs typically range from $20 USD to $40 USD daily, including meals, entrance fees, and other fees for amenities such as parking, camping, or access to pools and cabins.

Yes, Grutas Tolantongo is a natural resort featuring hot springs, caves, and a river, all of which are heated by geothermal activity.

The closest airport to Grutas de Tolantongo is the Mexico City International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México), approximately 3- to 4-hour away. Visitors can arrange transportation from the airport, such as private transfers, rental cars, or take a bus to reach the destination.

Driving to Grutas Tolantongo can be safe, even with a rental car. The roads leading to the attraction may include narrow and winding mountainous routes, so driving responsibly, adhering to speed limits, and being aware of local traffic regulations is essential. 

The best way to get from Mexico City to Tolantongo Caves is by signing up for a tour (from $115 USD) or self-drive. While getting on a bus is doable, it’s a lot of work and you don’t want to spend the whole day commuting. [See all possible ways to get to Tolantongo]

Yes, Tolantongo is generally safe for visitors. However, as with any natural resort, it’s important to exercise caution when swimming or hiking, follow the posted rules and guidelines, and heed advice from resort staff.

Grutas Tolantongo is primarily a natural attraction, so the availability of WiFi may be limited. Although before, it was not possible to get a Wi-Fi connection in the area, there is already wifi, but you’ll need to confirm this with the hotel or resort you will stay at. 

Ideally, spending a full day (or even two) in Tolantongo would allow you to experience all the attractions fully.

Tolantongo Grutas is open all year round. However, the months between November and April (during the dry season) are typically considered the best time to visit, as the weather is more predictable.

Tolantongo generally experiences a warm climate year-round, with average temperatures ranging between 60°F (15°C) and 90°F (32°C).

Yes, you can visit Tolantongo in the winter. The geothermal activity ensures that the water in the springs, river, and caves remains warm throughout the year.

The rainy season in Tolantongo typically extends from May to October. This period may see heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, especially in the months of June, July, and August.

The dry season in Tolantongo typically extends from November to April. These months see less rainfall and are considered an excellent time to visit.

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One Comment

  1. We are in Ixmiquilpan and the signs for “Grutas Tolantongo” point to an area 17 km south west of the city, while most online maps show “Grutas Tolantongo” about an hour northeast of the city. Confusing.

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