Spence Hot Springs Near Jemez Getting Spanked
Spence Hot Springs near Jemez Pueblo in the Santa Fe National Forest remains spectacular in it’s beauty, yet marred by misuse of this gift of nature. A few who come to the famous hot springs are ruining the area for everyone.
The springs, which maintain a constant temperature of about 100 degrees, are collected in various pools on the side of the mountain in the Santa Fe National Forest near Los Alamos, New Mexico.
There are two basic pools, one perched atop the other. Water gently cascades from the higher pool to the lower, leaving the lower pool slightly cooler.
The views of the valley beyond are as soothing as is the water. What a great opportunity to enjoy H2o from Mother Earth in nature’s spectacular back yard.
Spence Hot Springs has likely always endured heavy use, even by the early indigenous inhabitants of the region. Perhaps, they too, struggled with the best ways to keep it pristine and a jewel for the generations who follow.
Over the years, efforts have been made to construct other pools to alleviate congestion and to provide privacy of which there is little. However, most of these additional pools seem to go dry.
A sincere effort has been made to control erosion on the access trail, to construct a foot bridge over the river and to keep the paths in usable shape. These efforts aside, there have been few changes to Spence Hot Springs since my first visit in 1983. Some things should always stay the same.
Despite being an easy 15 minute hike from the highway right-of-way, Spence was the place where swimming suits were few and far between. Literature about the area warns intolerant bathers to beware. However, during the most recent 6 years, a no-nudity policy has been in place. Some rangers reportedly insist on adherence.
In an odd way, requiring visitors to cover up may be contributing to the damage to the springs. Naturists, as those who prefer to bathe in the suits they were born in are called, have a certain code of conduct.Continued on the next page