Spring is finally here after a very long winter in High Country!
We are sure to have another snowfall or two, but not enough to keep us snowed in and it will melt by high noon. This is, for many of us who live here, the perfect time to take a weekend road trip – not too far, but far enough to feel like we’ve had a mini-vacay.
Located along the Rio Grande in middle of the vast deserts of southwestern New Mexico, the green “Truth or Consequences” exit sign on Interstate 25 is a favorite photo-op for passersby. While the name in itself is an attraction – 150 miles south of Albuquerque and about 150 miles west of Roswell, it is literally in the middle of nowhere.
Truth or Consequences was originally named Hot Springs after the dozens of geothermal spring-fed spas that came to dominate the town. By the late 1930s, Hot Springs was filled with 40 different natural hot spring spas!
In 1950, Ralph Edwards, host of the “Truth or Consequences” radio program, suggested to the Hot Springs, N.M., Chamber of Commerce that the town change its name for the 10th anniversary of the show. The city leaders got together and decided to hold a special election to make a permanent name change to the town. It seems they were tired of being confused with Hot Springs, Ark., and hoped that the name change would spark publicity for the town.
Hot Springs decided to take up the offer, and after a citywide referendum voted in favor of the name change, was awarded the honors. The “Truth or Consequences” radio show was aired from Truth or Consequences on April Fool’s Day, 1950, a major event for such a small town.
Thereafter, the radio host, Ralph Edwards, revisited Truth or Consequences every year for 50 straight years on the first weekend of May. Upon each visit, he was welcomed by a “Fiesta” of beauty pageants, parades, rodeos, rubber duck races, and the Hatch Chile Queen, a tradition that, despite Edwards’ death, is still celebrated to this day.
Since the 50s, Truth or Consequences has been featured on multiple “unusual place name” lists and was even the site of the Doctor Who episode “The Zygon Invasion”, which based its plot on the city’s unique name.
T or C, as it’s known to locals, has also used its unique name to its advantage for promoting its world-renowned spas, but a trip inside the town is an experience not to be missed, healing waters aside.
Throughout T or C, a variety of interesting sites can be found: The Geronimo Springs Museum, features old windmills, Native American art, and whimsical wooden figurines. Las Palomas Plaza is a public park where you can dip your feet in rushing spring-fed water in a surreal, other worldly setting. This quirky historic downtown area has other tourist worthy sites including murals, a bull statue, and a war memorial with an eagle standing atop a globe on one leg and a polka-dotted bench reading “WET PAINT.”
But that’s not everything! The town has been used as a site for testing geothermal energy models, and this is where you will find America’s first and only spaceport.
In fact, from the town’s visitor center, you can even take a tour of Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built spaceport, just 25 miles down the road.
Virgin Galactic began constructing Spaceport America in 2006. There have been several sub-orbital test launches done at the site so far, though not all successful. Virgin president Richard Branson remains hopeful that we eventually will see the launch of the first civilian space flight from the facility, despite competition from Elon Musk!
The site was chosen due to the relatively stable and dry weather and lack of air traffic over the area (not for its proximity to Roswell.)
However Truth or Consequences does seem to be a magnet for weird things; for example, Stephen King holds the keys to the city.
The literary horror master was invited to the town in November, 1983 by his former college roommate and sometime collaborator, Chris Chesley. King gave a speech, was given the keys to the city, and finished up with a book signing for a massive crowd. November 19 is now Stephen King Day in town.
But the best reason to make a trip to this weird and wonderful New Mexico town, is to experience the waters.
My friend, actor and long time Taos resident, Ivan G’vera (who coincidently celebrates his birthday on April 1st) is from Prague, where Hot Spring Spas are a way of life, says that hands down, the absolute best artisanal free-flowing hot springs water in the USA, is in T or C.
The pH balance is perfect, and the scent free water is full of silver, gold, lithium, chloride and mor, and has been untouched by anything man-made as it rises and flows into the pools.
Three of my favourite spots to take the waters follow.
Riverbend Hot Springs is the only hot spring (spa) in New Mexico on the Rio Grande river. They have both public and private soaking pools and a wide range of accommodations. You can reach them at (575) 894-7625, and they are located at 100 Austin St in T or C.
The baths at Blackstone Hotsprings (410 Austin St) are fantastic, and it’s so convenient to be able to draw a bath in your room with water from the natural Hot Springs. Try the Star Trek suite for a truly unique stay – the Wet Room is also awesome and the friendly, attentive staff really set Blackstone apart.
Another gem in Truth or Consequences is the La Paloma Hot Springs & Spa. I’ve not stayed there but did visit for a delightful one hour soak in private room
Located at 311 Marr St, Truth or Consequences, NM 87901
For more information on Truth Or Consequences and other quick getaways in New Mexico, please visit the site linked below.
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