Alibi V.25 No.21 • May 26-June 1, 2016 

Day Tripper

Floating en el Cielo

Truth or Consequences delivers serious relaxation

If you’ve lived in New Mexico for any significant amount of time, there’s no doubt that you know what Truth or Consequences is notable for: hot springs. The town’s name was initially Hot Springs, in fact, before it took the name of the popular NBC radio program “Truth or Consequences” in 1950 as part of a contest. The mineral springs, which are traditionally believed to have healing properties, have drawn tourists seeking relaxation and rejuvenation since the early 1900s.

View of the Rio Grande from the Cielo pool
View of the Rio Grande from the Cielo pool
Robon Babb

To get to T or C from Albuquerque, head south down I-25 for an easy two-hour drive that will take you through rolling hills and give you plenty of mountain vistas. If you aren’t rushing to make a reservation at one of the springs, you can turn right (west) onto US-60 at Socorro to visit the Very Large Array, the famous radio astronomy observatory composed of 27 giant antennae. Otherwise, continue on I-25 and take exit 79, which will spit you onto a street called Date. Date splits into Main and Broadway, the two streets that comprise the economic center of the little town.

Although all of the fine establishments at which you can soak in the healing waters are, I’m sure, worth their ticket price, one that sticks out is Riverbend Hot Springs (100 Austin), the only venue that boasts a location right on the Rio Grande. To get to Riverbend, take a left from Date onto East Riverside, and then the first right at Cedar, which will turn into Austin. There, you can pay $10 per person for an hour of access to all the public pools, many of which look right over the river, or you can pony up $15 for 50 minutes in one of their private pools like the Cielo, Rio and Tierra. The extra $5 is well worth it for the peace and quiet of the beautiful private pools, especially if it’s a romantic getaway you’re on, or if, like me, you find the idea of sitting in a hot bath with a bunch of strangers mildly off-putting.

La Paloma (and its sister spa, La Paloma Too) is another charming hot springs spa that, although it doesn’t boast the riverside property of Riverbend, does offer other spa and holistic services like massages, pedicures and reiki. La Paloma (311 Marr) features both private and communal pools with half-hour, one-hour and full-day passes available.

To do a little re-toxing after your dip in the healing waters, I highly suggest driving down Broadway to get to Maria’s (1990 S. Broadway), where you can get good New Mexican grub. Go for the cheese enchiladas with a fried egg on top, and enjoy the decor that, strangely, consists entirely of holographic pictures of horses. Or, if you want to go for something a little lighter, you can visit Turtleback Oasis at 520 N. Broadway, which has plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and a little health food market where you can get your local honey and homeopathic supplements.

From either restaurant, turn around and head back up Broadway to the center of town, where you’ll find Black Cat Books & Coffee (128 N. Broadway). You can sip a latte while you peruse their extensive collection of used books with a generous section on New Mexico, including, of course, many books on the history and healing effects of the mineral hot springs.

If you’re feeling a little too relaxed to make the drive back to Burque, there are dozens of overnight accommodations for you to choose from in T or C. You can, of course, stay at whichever hot springs you’ve patronized: La Paloma has motel-style rooms starting at $70 per night, and Riverbend has cute “Artist Rooms” that start at $90—or you can stay in one of the swanky Sierra Grande’s rooms, many of which have private hot tubs. There are also the standard Holiday Inns and Motel 6s, if you want something boring. But really, if you’re going to a self-proclaimed “spa town” like T or C, don’t you think you should treat yourself a little bit?