In New Mexico, Truth or Consequences’ striking mountainous backdrop makes it a great option for a quick day trip as you traverse the Southwest.
In 1950, the now-defunct TV game show Truth or Consequences was celebrating its 10th anniversary, and host Ralph Edwards announced that the show would air the Truth or Consequences anniversary broadcast from the first city to adopt its name. Struggling to stand out from other resort towns of a common namesake, Hot Springs, New Mexico answered the call. The city officially became Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on March 31. And the rest, as they say, is history. So, to anyone who’s ever scratched their head after passing a sign for Truth or Consequences on the way to El Paso or Albuquerque: It got that quirky name from a cockamamie game show of yore.
Free from all those screaming symbols of modernity – like skyscrapers and the conspicuous displacement of mom & pop shops – T or C is reminiscent of an earlier, easier time. Buildings wear their weather proudly, and everyone has a truck, a boat and an RV, and none of it’s new. This is the kind of place where you might forget that Snapchat, self-driving cars and political discord exist. Several of T or C’s main attractions are conveniently located on the same strip within walking distance. So, if you find yourself in its vicinity, there’s no reason not to spend a few hours with this charming river town.
Situated on the aptly-named Main Street, next to Las Palomas Plaza, the Geronimo Springs Museum is a must-stop for history buffs and curious types. Named for Geronimo, the bold Apache leader, this humble house of history has much to offer. As you enter, you’re met by two massive skulls – one mastodon, one mammoth – surrounded by shimmering displays of vibrant malachite, glittering quartz and other regional rocks.
The museum has an unmatched arsenal of authentic Native American arrowheads. It also houses an impressive bounty of native pottery, some of which dates back to 200 A.D. A particularly fun museum feature is the authentic log cabin, which was transported from the Gila National Forest about 200 miles west. Between the cultural artifacts and the quirky exhibits celebrating local society, the Geronimo Springs Museum is an interesting and informative place to visit.
Just a five-minute stroll down the block, you’ll find Riverbend Hot Springs, a serene retreat with beautiful stone pools of the healing mineral waters that the city is heralded for. While there are several hot spring spas around town, Riverbend is the only one situated right on the bank of the Rio Grande. This sanctuary features six common pools on the riverbank that range between 100 and 108 degrees, offering patrons a unique opportunity to unwind amid pristine vistas of the Rio Grande and Turtleback Mountain. Riverbend has an ample selection of private pools too. During the warmer months, you can heat up in the springs and cool off in the river, admiring schools of sizable bass and velvety blue herons in the distance. Stay overnight in one of their accommodating suites or get a property-pass and enjoy the springs for an hour. However long you choose to stay probably won’t feel quite long enough.
After a spell of R&R&R – that’s rest and relaxation with the added benefit of rejuvenation – you’re ready for adventure. Just seven miles northeast of T or C, Elephant Butte Lake State Park offers a pristine outdoor experience to nature lovers of every variety. With 15 miles of trail and a sizable shining lake, the park is a prime locale for hiking, biking, camping and all things watercraft. The grounds are also inhabited by a diverse selection of regional flora and fauna. Birding opportunities are abundant, and you’re likely to see a jackrabbit or a roadrunner on your way. The most compelling feature is the landscape, the opulent vistas where the lake, the mountain and the desert foliage converge in natural balance. The park is well worth the trip just for the views.
T or C may not have Albuquerque’s booming growth or Santa Fe’s cool factor, but it’s got it’s own unique charm. The people are kind, the going is easy and the attractions are unmediated by the trappings of conventional tourism. The truth is that T or C is a small town with a lot to offer. You’ll fall in love with it as a consequence.
Chantel Baul is a nomad with a knack for writing and an ever-growing curiosity. She’s also an NPR nerd/foodie with a deep passion for all things travel, sustainable living and fun. Read more of her work at Chantel’s portfolio and follow her on Twitter.