Monday, May 2, 2016

Central New Mexico: Truth or Consequences and Elephant Butte

Elephant Butte, Central New Mexico
I've been sharing some of the sights my husband and I saw on our New Mexico vacation at the beginning of April. We finished up with two nights in Truth or Consequences, a town known for its hot springs. Now generally called T or C, the town changed its name from Hot Springs in 1950, as part of a publicity stunt for the Truth or Consequences TV show. Learn more about the town and its history here.

There's not a ton to do in T or C, but the Geronimo Springs Museum is fun, so plan to spend a couple of hours browsing through the quirky collections. They include native pottery and tools, artifacts from the homesteading era, a life-size wax statue of Geronimo and other items of Apache history, and information about the TV show connection. My favorites are a gorgeous selection of minerals and a mastodon skull. You can also step in to the Hardcastle Cabin, a 1930s or 40s cabin from the Black Range Mountains, which was moved to the museum and reassembled.

A Fire Water Lodge Property
Although T or C is small, it has several good restaurants and many spa services. We like to stay at the Fire Water Lodge, where each room has its own tub fed by geothermal hot mineral water. Each room is different, and I'm not going to tell you our favorite because we don't need competition, but you can see the specifics for each room on their website. Fire Water is one of the more funky/less expensive lodges. You can also find high-end luxury lodging.

An easy activity is a walking tour through the Historic Hot Springs and Downtown District. This site also has information on the various spas, the makeup of the mineral water, and the history of the town. Veterans Memorial Park has a touching outdoor war memorial and a military museum.

At the monthly Second Saturday Art Hop, many businesses open their doors from 6-9 pm.

The Spaceport America Visitor Center is in town, with exhibits and a shop. Tours to the Spaceport (35 miles southeast of T or C) leave from the Visitor Center at 9 am, Thursday through Monday.

West Lakeshore Trail, southern end
Near T or C is Elephant Butte, a longtime favorite for boating and fishing, although the water level has been low for decades. You can walk in the sand around the lake, sit on the beach, fly a kite, toss in a fishing line, or enjoy water sports if you have the equipment. At the beginning of April, the water temperature was 56°, too cool for swimming although that's an option in summer. Bird watching and stargazing are also popular options. A day use pass is only $5. The park has nine campgrounds. Here's an online brochure for the Butte and surrounding towns.

Everyone yields to the rattlesnakes.
Elephant Butte has three short hiking trails, plus the 10 mile West Lakeshore Trail. It can be hiked in various sections. The trail is nice and wide, mostly gravel but with some sand. It offers panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Possible wildlife include deer, jackrabbits, and lizards. Generally the trail runs some distance from the shoreline, but spurs lead down to the water in several places.

Between the hot springs in T or C and the water sports at Elephant Butte, there's something for everyone year-round in these central New Mexico small towns.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes.  The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods.

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for Kris Bock’s newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.