Rio Caliente Hot Springs Hotel is within a beautiful pine and oak forest covering more than 139 square miles. For as long as anyone can remember, el Bosque de la Primavera has been referred to as “Guadalajara’s lungs”
in 1980, development plans threatened the woods, and the entire forest — whether publicly or privately owned — was declared a Protected Area and Wildlife Refuge; making Rio Caliente Hot Springs Hotel one of the only available eco-tourist resorts than can ever be built in this area.
Magic Rocks and a Cool Waterfall
If you drive 3.9 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of Tala on Highway 70, you’ll find a dirt road leading to a recreational area called Los Chorros de Tala, described in Outdoors in Western Mexico. Here you can swim beneath an impressive waterfall, picnic or camp.
Even more attractive than the tourist facilities are the utterly bizarre rocks found just a few meters north of the dirt road leading to Los Chorros. These Magic Rocks have the shape of curving walls, sofas, bathtubs and much more, and there’s no charge at all to hike among them.
Salty River, Sweet Water, Tantalizing Trails
A short drive brings you to Agua Dulce, a beautiful, quiet, recreational area where a cool river is born. It’s a great place for kids to play or for camping without worries.
Just beyond lies the Salty River, deliciously warm water with hundreds of natural Jacuzzis, popularly known to kids as “The Rock-n-Roll River.” A footpath leads you on to Guava Beach (in Outdoors in Western Mexico) and an ancient obsidian workshop, while a dirt road heading south from the river leads to wonderful, solitary cycling routes through rolling hills and charming brooks, eventually leading you to Tala.
The Primavera Forest (aka Bosque de la Primavera, Sierra de la Primavera) is a volcanic region located immediately west of Mexico’s second-largest city, Guadalajara. The Primavera Forest occupies an ancient volcanic caldera, where the last eruptions are thought to have been about 30,000 years ago. The Primavera is a wilderness area of pine and oak woodland, with hot-water rivers, nature-trails and thermal spas. The park, which is about 30 km (19 mi) across (see map), serves as the lungs of Guadalajara and is popular, especially on weekends, for activities such as picnics, birdwatching, hiking, climbing, mountain biking and motocross.
The main geographic and geological attractions of the Primavera Forest include:
Scenery, views, flora and fauna
The average elevation of the Primavera Forest is about 2200 m above sea level, rising to 2270 m (7447 ft) towards the eastern edge of the forest which overlooks the city of Guadalajara. The three main summits are El Pedernal, San Miguel and Las Planillas. There is easy access to the 30,000 ha of protected natural area from various points, including the town of Tala and from Highway 15 (the main Guadalajara-Tepic highway) which skirts the northern edge of the Primavera. Agriculture and settlement have made incursions into the edges of the park, with land cleared for subdivisions or for fields of sugarcane and agave (for tequila). A major wildfire raged through parts of the forest in 2012.
The park is home to about 1000 different plant species as well as 137 different birds and at least 106 terrestrial animals, including deer, puma, opossums (tlacuaches), armadillos and rabbits.
Thermal springs are common throughout the Volcanic Axis of Mexico, and the hot river and many hot springs in the Primavera Forest are a legacy of its volcanic history.