Santa Rita Hot Springs in Baja Sur



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By Jeanne Walker

It is an adventure to get there, but the reward at the end of the road is the Santa Rita Hot Springs! Beautiful pools of clear, cool to hot spring mountain water, cascading and meandering around boulders and various depth pools in a quiet canyon.

There are three popular canyons in this area. All are accessed by entering Santiago, a small town 42 km north of San Jose Del Cabo off of Highway 1. If you are heading south on Highway 1, it’s a few km past the exit to La Ribera/Cabo Pulmo.

To the north is Canyon del Zorrow, (light blue on the map) and Ecologico Rancho Sol De Mayo, which has overnight lodging, and a camping area. A short 10-minute hike will lead you to a year-round waterfall and swimming hole. To the south is Agua Caliente/El Chorro (yellow line on the map), at the end of the road, no hiking required, and there are several Airbnb locations available for overnight stays. In the middle canyon is Santa Rita (the dark blue line), located just past the pueblo of San Jorge at the end of the road and a short walk to get to the hot springs. There are also cabanas and camping available here.

The road is dirt, in good to fair condition, and suitable for a standard rental car. Pack a cooler with some tortas and water and head out for a day of exploring.

The views along the road are vast. In several spots, you can see all the way back to Highway 1 and the Sea of Cortez.

To get to the canyon, follow the signs to the zoo in Santiago. Bordering north side of the zoo is a dirt road leading to San Jorge, and ultimately Santa Rita. The road gradually gains elevation and travels past small farms and homes. The small pueblo of San Jorge, like many small, quiet Mexican towns, is built around a large center courtyard area with a pretty church.

Continue uphill past the soccer field, admiring the views back down the valley. There is one tight switchback, but a standard size vehicle should handle this with no problem. Just a hundred meters or so past the switchback you’ll come to the end of the road at the small farm of Señor Don Braulio, and his family. Park under one of the large shade trees and by the time you’ve gotten out of the car, you will be greeted by a family member. Access to the water features is granted with the purchase of a wristband, about 80 pesos per person at our last visit.

You will be directed to the gated path leading to the hot springs and a set of rules. Remember this is an eco area. Do your part to keep it pristine. Refrain from applying your sunscreen, lotions or perfumes until after you’ve dipped in the pools. Also, please eat your lunch and beverages in the shaded picnic area, and not by the water. There are no pets allowed in the Santa Rita Hot Springs area.

This drive can be done in one day, round trip from La Paz. But why rush? The newly completed Hotel Don Julio in Santiago, (624 159 19 09) just north of the town square and mercado, has good accommodations that are very reasonable. You can explore the town of Santiago, spend a restful night, and head to Santa Rita in the morning, spending time exploring the hot springs and canyons. Make it a long weekend and explore all three!

Photographers Jeanne Walker and her husband Thomas Brown of Focus on Feathers.com love to explore the back roads, and small towns of Baja Sur, seeking birds, architecture and scenes that capture their eye. They prefer any map with ‘little black roads’ to get off of the paved highway to see what’s hiding around the next corner. They can be reached at bigleftturn@hotmail.com or www.focusonfeathers.com.

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