There are so many wonderful places to explore when traveling to Mexico, but few can compare to Las Grutas Tolantongo. This unique place is a natural waterpark filled with thermal hot springs, bright turquoise rivers, and caves to explore.
While the destination is a bit off the beaten path, it’s well worth the detour. In this complete guide to visiting Las Grutas Tolantongo, we share everything you need to know about traveling here and why it has been one of our favorite destinations after RVing through Mexico.
Getting to Las Grutas Tolantongo
Las Grutas de Tolantongo is located in the state of Hidalgo over 1,280 meters (4,100 ft) high. Its elevation gives it striking views all around, but also makes getting to Las Grutas Tolantongo a bit tricky. The road to the park is very steep and windy.
We drove from Teotihuacan, a suburb of Mexico City to Las Grutas de Tolantongo. It took around a three and half hour drive to the top of the canyon. And then another 30 minutes to drive the windy road into the hot springs area.
If you aren’t driving there in an RV. You can rent a car or book a tour from Mexico City. There are also tours leaving from nearby cities, like Queretaro. We suggest planning to stay at least one night but two days would give you loads of time to explore all of Las Grutas Tolantongo’s amazing attractions.
How much does Las Grutas Tolantongo Cost?
As of January 2023, the cost to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo is $180 pesos (roughly $9 USD). Prices are subject to change so it’s a good idea to check for updates to pricing on their website directly.
The park does not accept credit cards so make sure to have plenty of pesos to pay for your entry. As well as food, lockers, and refreshments.
When is the best time to visit Las Grutas de Tolantongo?
The ideal time to visit Las Grutas Tolantongo is during the dry season which is November to early spring. June and July are the wettest months of the year which can lead to flash flooding. In 2022 Las Grutas de Tolantongo dealt with an unusual amount of rain washing mud into the river. Rather than the beautiful blue it was a cloudy river of brown.
If you’re looking for the bright turquoise waters you’ve seen in pictures, then the dry season is the time to come. Also consider when you visit during the week. This is an extremely popular destination for Mexican Nationals and gets very busy on the weekends. We recommend visiting during the week if at all possible. And we would avoid coming on a national holiday in Mexico.
Things to know before visiting Las Grutas Tolantongo
The park hours are as follows:
- Caves, tunnels, waterfalls, and pools: From 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Thermal pools (Only some) and river: From 8:00 a.m. to 09:00 p.m.
- Restaurant and kitchens (Only some): From 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
- Grocery store (only some): From 8:00 am to 9:00 pm
- Box office: From 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Pets are not allowed at Las Grutas Tolantongo. We were able to bring our 2 indoor-only cats there (but I think we simply slid under the radar). If you have a dog with as you RV you’ll have to find a place to leave them.
If you’re curious as to how much it costs to rent a locker, rent camping equipment, or go zip lining you can see updated fees on their website here.
Remember, the park does not accept credit cards and there is NO ATM. So make sure to have plenty of pesos with you beforehand.
Where to stay at Las Grutas Tolantongo
There are a few options for accommodation a Las Grutas Tolantongo. Visitors can camp or stay in a hotel. There are three hotels on site and several more in the town just outside of Las Grutas Tolantongo. You cannot book hotel rooms beforehand. Everything is done on a first come first serve basis.
We suggest coming early and avoid visiting on the weekends to ensure you snag a spot at one of their hotels.
If the hotel rooms are booked or if preferred, you can rent a tent and sleeping equipment from the hotel. We camped next to the river in our RV. We paid around $12 USD per night to camp in our RV without hookups (in 2019) in addition to the daily entrance fee.
What to bring to Las Grutas Tolantongo
Las Grutas Tolantongo is like a natural waterpark. There are activities for adventure and excitement and areas to relax and enjoy incredible views. You can cater your experience to fit your interests, but in general, it’s a good idea to bring the following:
Swimsuit – Swimming in most waterfalls is allowed so make sure to bring your bathing suit. We love Andie Swim’s eco swimsuit line which uses recycled plastic for their form-fitting suits.
Quick Dry Towel – There are plenty of high-quality, fast-drying towels on the market right now, so there is no reason to pack in bulky ones that take up unnecessary space. Our favorites are from Teslate but these Turkish towels from Amazon are great too.
Water Sandals – Traversing the landscape around the waterfalls can be tricky. We highly encourage a good pair of water shoes with traction. Dennis loves his Earth Runners and Liz recommends these Chacos.
Water and Snacks – Make sure to have fresh water and snacks on hand. Most waterfalls won’t have stores nearby if you get hungry or thirsty, so it’s best to bring your own. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle like this Camelbak that has a life straw in it to help filter and remove any unwanted chemicals like chlorine, lead, and organic matter.
Sun protection – We are not big fans of sunscreen. Most are actually toxic to your body and known to cause skin cancer. It’s also bad for the environment you’re swimming in. But if you must use sunscreen we recommend this brand, which has no harmful ingredients, uses zinc to block the sun, and is environmentally safe.
If you’re okay ditching the sunscreen make sure you have a sun shirt and hat with you. We love Free Fly apparel which uses bamboo and has 30 SPF protection. It’s also a good idea to have a buff to protect your neck and face.
You cannot bring any water bottles, bags, or other items up to the cave or tunnel area. However, you can bring your shoes and a towel. They have lockers you can rent for $80 pesos for the day at the bottom of the hill. There are also tons of stalls for food and refreshments and public restrooms to shower and change when you’re done.
Things to do at Grutas de Tolantongo
1. Explore the caves (las grutas)
The area where the waterfall and caves are located is closest to the hotels and parking lots and is definitely best for those seeking a bit of adventure. As you walk along there are incredible waterfalls everywhere you turn, cascading into the hot thermal rivers. It’s an incredible sight!
If you are up for an adventure make sure to walk through the cave tunnel.
There is a rope for you to hold on to (you’ll definitely want to). It’s super narrow, there’s loads of steam, it can get quite packed with people, and has lots of slippery spots. This is not for everyone but we loved exploring the cave tunnel.
The cave is located below the largest waterfall and is a large cavern that has tons of thermal features pouring water into the very warm pool. At the back of the cavern, there is a small opening that leads to another area of the cave. It’s very dark in here, so have a flashlight or use the flashlight on your phone.
This was a super cool and unique spot to explore and we enjoyed getting a “massage” from the water flowing from open thermal features. The current is extremely strong here, so you should be a strong swimmer if you want to explore.
2. Relax in the pools
On the complete opposite side of Las Grutas Tolantongo are the pozas or thermal pools. This is the area where the iconic Instagram photos are taken or the incredibly epic shots overlooking gorgeous mountain vistas.
This are relatively warm (more like a lukewarm bath than a hot tub). But it felt great to soak nonetheless.
These pools are super popular so get there early if you want to have the pools to yourself — especially if you want the Instaworthy shot without lots of people in it.
There are technically two sides to the thermal pool area which can be accessed by walking through a steam tunnel, or suspension bridge, or simply walking along a sidewalk at the top of the pool area by the hotel.
3. Go zip lining
If you haven’t had enough adventure during your stay, you can go zip-lining. The park has a zip line that runs the length of 1,890 meters (6,200 ft) across 4 runs.
We didn’t do the zip line during our stay but the views are absolutely epic. I’m sure it would be a fantastic time!
Is Grutas Tolantongo worth visiting?
Las Grutas Tolantongo is absolutely worth visiting despite its somewhat challenging road to get there. If you’re planning a trip to Mexico or traveling to Mexico at all make sure to add this destination to your travel bucket list.
I would love to hear if this post helped you plan your trip to Las Grutas Tolantongo or if you enjoyed visiting there in the past. We can’t wait to come back here again and are thankful we were able to experience this wonderful place.