Yes, this little New Mexico town has a quirky name that beckons curious travelers. But when you arrive, you find the truth. This little gem located on the Rio Grande was once named Hot Springs for the abundance of natural hot springs in the area. If you’re looking for a getaway that will leave you relaxed, refreshed and renewed, this is it. Spend some time soaking in the hot springs overlooking the Rio Grande in your private cabana—clothing optional. Check out the colorful galleries in town or drop in at one of the many local eateries to sample a green chile cheeseburger. And when you’re ready for more recreation, head over to Elephant Butte park for boating, hiking and more.
“Truth or Consequences” was a popular game show in the 1950s where participants were asked off-the-wall trivia questions. If they answered incorrectly (and they almost always did) there were consequences—contestants were required to perform embarrassing stunts. For the show’s 10th anniversary, producer Ralph Edwards announced the show would broadcast live from the first town willing to change its name to Truth or Consequences.
Tired of being just an ordinarily named municipality, the tiny town of Hot Springs, New Mexico jumped at the opportunity and on the eve of April Fool’s Day 1950, it became Truth or Consequences.
I must confess, before visiting this little gem, I knew nothing about Truth or Consequences. I just knew I had to see a town named for a game show. But the truth is, I LOVED this place and it was one of my favorite experiences from my New Mexico road trip.
Truth or Consequences’ natural thermal springs have always been its main attraction—apart from its name, of course. And you’ll find several hot springs resorts. Perhaps the most unique is the Riverbend Hot Springs Resort. The mineral rich waters at the Riverbend Hot Springs Resort have been rejuvenating locals and visitors alike for centuries. Legend tells us Geronimo and his Apache warriors experienced the therapeutic benefits of the geothermal water here as guests of Chief Victorio of the Warm Springs Apaches. After experiencing it for myself, I can understand why Geronimo put down his weapons for his visit.
Riverbend is the only New Mexican hot springs mineral spa on the banks of the Rio Grande and offers a Zen-like ambiance to enhance your hot springs experience. Whisper zones are enforced to maintain the peaceful bliss as you unwind and forget about the stresses of everyday life.
Choose from rock communal pools, classic private pools or deluxe private pools. My husband and I opted for the deluxe private pool and were led to our own little slice of heaven—the Apache. Surrounded by wooden privacy fencing on three sides, the fourth side opens to the Rio Grande with breathtaking views of the Turtleback Mountains. The cabanas are equipped with chaise lounges, a cold overhead shower, misters and a pool filled with hot therapeutic mineral water. And since the only eyes able to see into your private little nirvana are those of fish and birds, clothing is optional.
We emerged from our state of peaceful bliss with an appetite and headed downtown for lunch. It would be a shame to visit New Mexico without sample green chiles, so we ordered a plateful of green chile cheese fries (don’t judge) to go with our barbeque sandwiches at Bar-B-Que on Broadway. Also downtown is the A & B Drive In, an old-fashioned drive-in restaurant serving burgers, shakes, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, BLTs, and shaved ice.
And as you’re wandering around town, colorful murals painted on bath houses, shops, homes and vacant buildings are a feast for your eyes. If you happen to be in town on the second Saturday of the month, check out the Second Saturday Art Hop featuring the works of local artists.
A plateful of green chili cheese fries needs to be followed by some physical exertion, and your best bet is Elephant Butte State Park. Located seven miles north of the center of Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte State Park is the place to work off those calories. Hike or mountain bike over 10 miles of trails winding through the desert hills above the lake providing panoramic views of the deep blue waters below.
Area outfitters offer kayak, canoe, jet ski, paddle board and boat rentals for exploring the calm lake waters. And if you want to do a little fishing, they can hook you up with all the gear or with a guided fishing trip. Maybe your expedition will yield a little fish to go with that other plate of green chile cheese fries you know you’re going to eat for dinner.
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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