Headed to the American Southwest and excited to soak in some steamy hot springs in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico? All the info you need, coming right up!
Truth or Consequences is a funky desert town in New Mexico known for its natural, mineral-rich hot springs. And quite honestly, the town kinda feels like a time capsule – there’s evidence of the wild, wild west over in these parts, with a laid back hippy/cowboy vibe. And so many vintage buildings from the 1950s!
We visited “T or C” (what the locals call it!) on our week-long New Mexico road trip. I desperately wanted to spend a day visiting White Sands National Park (have you seen the photos?!), and Truth or Consequences ended up being a perfect half-way point between Albuquerque and the park!
It was great for a night, plus we got to soak away all our stresses for a few hours (ya know, life is hard when you’re on vacation…, ha!).
I didn’t really know what to expect, as I couldn’t find much info online, but we found a town in a revitalization stage of sorts, with plenty of colorful buildings and art galleries lining the downtown streets. Apparently artists are *loving* the temperate climate and low cost of living, and many are actually moving there!
The town isn’t as sleepy and abandoned as it once was (due to a past struggling economy), and there’s new restaurants and renovated bathhouses popping up all the time.
To be completely honest, one of the main reasons I wanted to visit T or C was because of its super quirky name, haha. Sure, it might sound silly to visit a town simply for its name, but I mean, c’mon! It’s called Truth or Consequences – I can’t be the only one who finds this utterly fascinating, ha!
Before visiting, I had a tough time finding information about things to do in Truth or Consequences, so I decided to write this guide for you all! Hope it helps with planning!
Get ready for a night in New Mexico’s funky desert town of T or C!
FAQs about Truth or Consequences, NM
Where is Truth or Consequences and How to Get There
Truth or Consequences is located in southwest New Mexico, in Sierra County right on the Rio Grande River (the fourth longest river system in the United States!) in the Chihuahuan Desert (not far from Elephant Butte Reservoir). It sits at an elevation of about 4,250 feet above sea level.
You’ll find it between Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico’s two largest cities, meaning, it’s a great place to stop on a longer New Mexico road trip!
Flying to Truth or Consequences
There’s no commercial airport in T or C, only a smaller municipal airport (so unless you fly yourself, don’t expect to fly to Truth or Consequences, haha).
The closest major airport is El Paso International Airport (ELP) at around 125 miles away (2 hours), and of course Albuquerque International Sunport at around 150 miles away (just over a 2 hour drive).
Las Cruces Airport (LRU) is about 60 miles away from Truth or Consequences, with some shuttle services from Albuquerque with Advanced Air. But honestly, I’d just drive if you’re coming from Albuquerque – it’s less than 2 ½ hours away from ABQ.
Driving to Truth or Consequences
Most people visit Truth or Consequences as part of a longer New Mexico road trip, which is exactly what we did! We drove to T or C straight from Albuquerque, and had no problems at all making the almost 3 hour drive. The tiny town is right off I-25, so perfect for a quick stop en route to Las Cruces for White Sands National Park if you don’t have much time.
If you wanna break up the driving, you can stop at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, which we sadly didn’t have time for. It’s a great place to view sandhill cranes (sometimes thousands!), snow geese, and other waterfowl – bring binoculars for close-up looks!
Here’s some distances from popular destinations nearby:
- From Las Cruces: 1 ½ hours, 75 miles
- From White Sands National Park: 2 hours, ~120 miles
- From El Paso, Texas: 2 hours, ~120 miles
- From Albuquerque: 2 ½ hours, ~150 miles
- From Santa Fe: 3 hours, ~215 miles
- From Bandelier National Monument: 4 hours, ~250 miles
- From Taos: 4 ½ hours, ~280 miles
- From Phoenix, Arizona: 6 ½ hours, ~400 miles
How to Get Around Truth or Consequences
Walking is by far the best way to get around. This town is exceptionally tiny, and the downtown area only has about 2 major streets, haha. Meaning, nothing is more than a 10 minute walk, even most of the hot springs, including the popular one, Riverbend!
We parked our car in town once, wandered around for a bit, then drove about 2 minutes to keep our car at Riverbend Hot Springs for our soaking sessions. Doesn’t get easier than that!
Weather in Truth or Consequences
Truth or Consequences experiences a cool desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters. And get this – the sun shines more than 80% of the day and normal humidity is only 10-15% (which is perfect for this gal with super thick hair)!
It gets hot pretty early on in the year, and then once monsoon season is over (more about that soon…), temps get chilly rather fast.
There’s technically really only 3 main seasons here:
- Summer Season (April to June): Oof – summer is rough in these parts, as it’s very, very dry and generally exceptionally hot. Summer days average in the mid 80s°F, and more times than not creep up into the 90s. Not great weather to be sitting around in a hot spring, haha.
- Monsoon Season (June to mid-September): And then we get to monsoon season, which still remains very hot, but with tons of thunderstorms and rainfall and harsh humidity, centered roughly on the Rio Grande Valley – exactly where T or C is, haha (not to be confused with the region in Texas, the Lower Rio Grande Valley). So, suffice it to say it’s not the absolute best time to plan a trip during this time. If you are visiting now, plan to do all your activities in the early morning as storms are worst in the late afternoon and early evening.
- Winter Season (October to March): Don’t let the winter season deter you from visiting – it’s actually pretty pleasant, with mild temps (40-50s °F), gloriously sunny days, and very little rainfall! Nights do get exceptionally chilly (although it hardly ever snows due to the lack of precipitation), but most activities (like hot springs soaking!) take place during the daylight anyways. We curled up in our hotel room after dinner — I’m a sucker for crisp hotel sheets!
For reference, we visited the hot springs in Truth or Consequences towards the end of November, and had gloriously sunny weather. It was a tad chilly at times, but nothing a light sweater couldn’t fix. Also, we found it to be the perfect temps for chilling and hanging out in the hot springs.
If you wanna relax in the hot springs and take total advantage, I’d recommend visiting when it ain’t so hot out! This means April to October is outta the question. Plan a visit from November to March for optimal hot springs weather!
Where to Stay in Truth or Consequences
You really have two options for location – either directly in the town of T or C itself, or along I-25 exit 79, which is where we stayed.
To be completely honest, since we only stayed one night en route to White Sands National Park, we kinda just chose what I call a “whatever hotel” – your clean, typical, boring budget name-brand hotel in a convenient and safe location. Gets the job done but isn’t memorable by any means.
We stayed right off the highway at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Truth or Consequences, and it was perfect for a simple, one-night stay.
In town, there’s some charmingly-restored spas/hotels, including Blackstone Hotsprings, Pelican Spa, and of course Riverbend Hot Springs. We would have loved to stay at Riverbend, but there was a strict 2-night minimum when we were visiting, and simply didn’t have enough time during our week in New Mexico. There’s also some fun campsites and RV parks, like Hot Springs Glamp Camp with a luxury yurt and remodeled vintage RVs!
Right off the highway (near Walmart) you’ll find Holiday Inn Express & Suites Truth or Consequences, Comfort Inn & Suites, and a few others (like a Motel 6 and a Travelodge – which aren’t really my cup of tea, haha).
Brief History of T or C
Of course Truth or Consequences has an interesting history – I mean, with a name like that, of course it does! T or C, originally known as Hot Springs, has a history rooted in geothermal springs and its indigenous communities. Native American groups, like the Apache and the Sierra Blanca Apache loved and appreciated the magic of these mineral-rich hot springs. If you look closely, you’ll see references to them around town.
People from around the states started visiting the town to soak and relax in the hot springs. It was actually known as the “Health Capital of the Southwest” at one point in time!
And then in 1950, the town gained even greater national attention when it changed its name to Truth or Consequences, after winning a radio contest!
It’s a truly fascinating corner of New Mexico, blending its natural hot springs, historical roots, and the unexpected twist of a crazy name change. Truth or Consequences really does feel like a time capsule of sorts – sure, the towns been modernized and rejuvenated a bit, but you can still experience the hot springs that the Native Americans once soaked in!
Other Important Info about Truth or Consequences
What’s up with its quirky name?! Right?! Ain’t it kinda wild? The town actually got its name thanks to a radio show contest. Yup, a radio contest! It’s had a few names over the years – originally being called Ojo Caliente de Las Paloma by The Spanish, then the cowboys renamed it to Palomas Hot Springs (then got lazy and simply called it Hot Springs).
And THEN in 1950 it got changed once AGAIN as part of a publicity scheme to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a hugely successful game show on NBC radio – and yes, that game show was called Truth or Consequences! The TV program was canceled decades ago, but it lives on due to the town name.
Is it worth visiting Truth or Consequences? To be completely honest, unless you’re planning to venture south to White Sands National Park, I don’t think I’d make the trek down to T or C. There really isn’t tons and tons to do here, and there’s actually other cute spas/hot springs closer to Santa Fe.
With that being said, if you’re headed to the stunning white gypsum sand dunes, Truth or Consequences is a great spot to spend the night as it breaks up the drive from Santa Fe or Albuquerque. Just don’t plan on doing too much besides soaking in town!
How long to spend in T or C? I really only think you need an afternoon here: an hour or less to walk the town (really, it’s teeny tiny), an hour to grab a bite to eat in a nearby cafe/grab a beer at the local brewery, and a few hours at a hot spring.
I’d recommend no more than one night if you’re not taking advantage of the hiking in Elephant Butte Lake State Park or kayaking the Rio Grande (seasonal) nearby. We arrived around noon, wandered a bit and hung out until our soak at 3, and left early the next morning.
Where to Eat in Truth or Consequences: The town is pretty tiny, and therefore there’s not too many restaurants to choose from. But definitely enough for a 1-night stay for sure. Don’t expect any michelin-style meals, haha – food is simple but good!
There’s El Faro (Mexican food), Outer Edge Pizzeria, The Giddy Up Cafe (American breakfast), Pacific Grill, A & B Drive In (hamburgers), Further Bistro (salads and wraps), and a few others. There’s also plenty of fast-food options right off I-25 which we gladly indulged in.
What’s so special about the hot springs here? Unlike many other hot springs, there’s no sulfur smell! Thank goodness – if you’ve smelled sulfur before you know it smells like rotten eggs and is super unpleasant.
Plus, the hot springs in Truth or Consequences have trace elements of THIRTY EIGHT different minerals, including magnesium, lithium, and silica (which are heavenly for the skin). Making them some of the most heavily mineralized waters in the United States!
Things to do in Truth or Consequences
There’s not too many things to do in Truth or Consequences, making it the perfect pit stop on a longer New Mexico road trip. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a quick visit! We were visiting the day after Thanksgiving, meaning a lot of the town was closed and pretty sleepy – I reckon it’d be much livelier on a typical weekend!
Soak at Riverbend Hot Springs
One of the most popular things to do in Truth or Consequences?! Soak in a hot spring! Hey, you’re in a town that was once known as Hot Springs afterall! It’s known as America’s most affordable spa town (and really, soaks are not at all expensive), so I highly encourage you to book yourself a soak or two! Hot spring temps range from 95-110°F (sometimes depending on the day), It’s just one of those things you gotta do while in town!
There’s lots to say about the hot springs in T or C, so check out the section below dedicated entirely to hot springs – what to bring, hot springs etiquette, a list of hot springs spas, and so much more.
Wander the tiny town
Yes, the town may be small (with a year-round population of around 8,000), but it’s big on art and charm. You’ll see so many murals, some metalwork, and various art installations on the streets.
There’s a cute main street with fabulous cafes, a second hand book store, thrift stores, and a ton of other places I would have loved to check out. But alas, many were closed because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
There’s vintage buildings from the 1950s, creative working spaces, and a handful of art galleries. And of course what the town is known for – naturally occurring hot springs! And omg – the town is oh so colorful; I couldn’t put my camera down. Just ask my husband, haha!
Kayaking/tubing the Rio Grande River
Visiting T or C in the summer?! Add kayaking and/or tubing The Rio to your list of things to do in Truth or Consequences! You can either kayak or tube freely with your own equipment, or check out Rio Grande River Trips if you need to rent some. And I don’t care what you say – always wear a life jacket!
The Rio Grande has sections with different levels of difficulty, so always ask the outfitter you rent from if you’re not familiar with the area.
Since we visited in late November, we sadly didn’t get to float down the river (and we missed it in Boise, Idaho too, argh!). Thankfully I’ve got the Russian River (in Sonoma County) not too far from me in California!
Geronimo Springs Museum
Located right in town, the Geronimo Springs Museum is a must, especially if you’re interested in learning about Southwest New Mexico history.
Definitely worth a quick peek; there’s exhibits on pottery (including a world-class ancient Mimbres pottery collection), fossils (plus a real-life Woolly Mammoth skull!), and plenty of Hispanic and Apache artifacts (like arrowhead displays and an authentic Miner’s Cabin).
The museum’s a lot larger than it looks from the outside – expect to spend at least an hour or so here!
Truth or Consequences Brewing Co.
T or C Brewing Company is one of the most popular spots in town – perfect for a midday break if you’re getting a little thirsty. The atmosphere is on point and the beer is solid with a great selection – don’t miss the blood orange cider, squeeze the sun, a seasonal beer (or two), or if you’re feeling frisky, a flight of 6! Lots to choose from!
Come on the weekend for some live music and sit in the backyard beer garden; it’s lively and so fun. While they don’t serve any food, there’s a few spots nearby that deliver straight to the brewery (green chile cheeseburgers, anyone?!).
Second Saturday Art Hop
Truth or Consequences has become an art hot spot as of recently, with many artists moving here and plenty of galleries opening up.
If you’re visiting on the second Saturday of the month, don’t miss the Art Hop – when all of the art galleries open for the evening (typically from 6-9pm) and there’s fun events around town. Check out the Second Saturday Art Hop facebook page for info on shows, openings, and event pop ups (although it doesn’t seem like it’s updated all too often, ha).
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
A few miles north of T or C you’ll find Elephant Butte, one of the most popular state parks in all of New Mexico (that’s butte – not butt… okay, I’ll stop – I’m a child, haha). It’s actually the state’s largest body of water, at over 36,000 acres!
Here you’ll find tons of lakeside views, opportunities for fishing (including white bass, black bass, catfish, walleye, crappie, and stripers, oh my!), hiking, and lots of boating fun! Plus watersports and sandy beaches (ya know, for tanning and swimming) – it’s kinda like New Mexico’s answer to the ocean on a hot summer day.
If you wanna spend time at Elephant Butte, I’d dedicate at least a half-day for it, as it’s quite large and scenic. Or spend a few days camping – people love it (plus the stargazing opportunities are just amazing). Just note there’s hardly any shade here (practically nonexistent), so plan to bring your own and/or slather on that sunscreen!
Okay, this is something I SO wished I had heard about before we visited Truth or Consequences. I mean, it’s Spaceport America (!!!), and only 30 miles away from town.
What is it exactly? The world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport! Yes, that means a place for launching rockets, satellites, and spaceplanes! How cool!
While the facility is strictly designed for commercial users, they offer tours to the general public on occasion. Just make sure to book a tour well in advance – it gets busy! The Spaceport is *technically* an airport, so security won’t let you on the property for any other reason than being on the guided tour. While we didn’t do the tour ourselves (a big whoops on my part), I heard it’s really well done and super hands on and interactive.
Okay, fine, after making this list I guess there’s quite a few things to do in Truth or Consequences, haha. If you really wanna take advantage of all the outdoor activities, I’d opt for an early fall trip, and stay a full day or two.
Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences
And of course there’s all the hot springs! How could we forget about those?! I mean, it is the main draw of the town – and the primary reason why tourists come to town. Easily the #1 thing to do in Truth or Consequences.
Get this – the entire downtown area is located over a huge body of odorless hot mineral water…, that actually bubbles to the surface. Nature is wild, isn’t it?!
Hot springs have been synonymous with T or C for years and years and years (with the first bathhouse built way back when in the 1880s). At one point, the town had as many as 40 spas offering soaks!
There’s not as many now (understandably), but still quite a few to choose from. Some even offer healing treatments to go along with your soak, like massages, reflexology, mud wraps, reiki, and more. I so wish I had time for a mud wrap, haha!
What’s so special about the water anyways? The water is heated by geothermal activity underground the Earth’s surface! Kinda cool, right?! It then flows out of a rift (a crack in the Earth’s crust) that appeared more than 50 million years ago along the Rio Grande River. So basically, the water you’re soaking in is coming from a crack in the Earth that’s FIFTY MILLION years old. Wild.
The Earth produces pristine waters, with temperatures ranging from 98 to 115 degrees. Perfect bath water!
Most spas are open from morning until early evening, and if you can time it correctly, I highly recommend planning your soak for around sunset time! We loved using our soaks as kinda a wind-down from the day, and left feeling so refreshed and relaxed. I’d hate to do a soak in the morning and then have a full day’s worth of activities planned – but, you do you!
Many of the hot spring pools are part of hotels and lodges – meaning if you stay at one you’ll probably have either free and/or unlimited access to them. Plenty are available for non-staying guests (although not all), and you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Some facilities only have 2-3 pools in total (private), so don’t expect to show up and get one the same day.
However, they’re not all created equally, with only five actually getting the water from free-flowing springs. And only ONE right on the banks of the Rio Grande River with panoramic views of the river and mountains while soaking!
Because of that, we chose to visit the most popular of all the hot springs in Truth or Consequences – Riverbend Hot Springs, a laid-back spa hotel offering public and private soaks to outside guests.
Imagine soaking in 105°F mineral water while staring out at the river and lush vegetation ahead of you. It was just heavenly!
What to Know About Riverbend Hot Springs
- Being the most popular of all the hot springs in T or C (it’s the only hot spring directly on the banks of the Rio Grande), you’ll most definitely need to make a reservation in advance.
- You can choose between a private soak in a private pool, or a public soak in the communal hot springs pools, or both! We chose to make reservations for both – just make sure to time them correctly (back to back) or you’ll be waiting around with literally nothing to do in between.
- Prices are super affordable, at $25-35 per hour for 2 people for a property pass (yes, that’s the price for TWO people – super great value in my opinion!). Private soaks are a tad more expensive, at $35-50 per hour for 2 people for a private pool, but still a really good value!
- You can totally reserve a few hours at a time if you’d like, but we found an hour at the private soaking tub and then an hour in the common pools were enough for us.
- This isn’t a glamorous bougie spa with overpriced spa treatments or even an enclosed waiting area. It’s a bit more rustic and bare-boned, but still very comfy and fun.
- Riverbend Hot Springs is actually a hotel, so you can stay the night! Unfortunately there was a 2-night minimum stay when we were visiting, so we chose to stay elsewhere.
- There is no alcohol, no glass/breakables, or food near the pools. And no smoking of any kind. Respect their rules!
Other Things to Know about the Hot Springs in T or C
What to bring for a soak at the hot springs:
- Bathing suit of course, especially if you’re soaking in a public tub!
- Towel (most hot spring spas have towels for rent, but some charge up to $10, so it’s a good idea to just bring your own)
- sandals/water shoes (especially if you’re visiting any natural ones as there may be stones on the ground)
- Reusable water bottle (gotta stay hydrated!)
- robe/cover up
- Waterproof bag (if visiting hot springs in nature)
While soaking, remember to stay hydrated! And we’re talking about water here – not alcohol! Save that for later at dinner once you’re out of the steamy springs.
Etiquette at hot springs:
- Shower before entering (this is to maintain cleanliness)
- Respect the peaceful atmosphere (keep voices down and no music)
- No glass containers
- No jumping or diving
- Wear a bathing suit in public spaces!
- No alcohol or drugs
There’s actually tons of benefits of soaking in hot springs, a few being:
- Relaxation! Go on, friend, relax! Let the hot springs soothe those aching muscles.
- Improved circulation – the warm water helps dilate blood vessels helping blood circulation in the body
- Glowing skin – all the minerals in hot springs help promote a healthy complexion
- Stress relief – helps with stress reduction and improved mental well-being
- Pain relief – yup, hot springs are great for alleviating joint pain, arthritis, and muscle soreness
- Detoxification – if you sweat in the warm water, it may help with the removal of toxins from the body (but always monitor this; if you’re getting exceptionally hot and sweaty, GET OUT!)
- Improved sleep – relaxing can contribute to better sleep quality!
There’s a reason why the Native Americans soaked all those years ago!
There’s other hot springs spas to consider if Riverbend is unfortunately sold out, or you wanna support a smaller lodge. Crazy to think that most of these historic spas still operating today date back from the 1930s!
- Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa: a hot springs hotel in a rustic Southwestern style with indoor and outdoor garden tubs for soaking
- La Paloma Hot Springs & Spa: the oldest hot spring baths in town (!!!), with two historic bath houses (built in 1919 and 1925) and outdoor pools (available only to lodging guests)
- Blackstone Hot Springs: a kitschy hotel with four private hot springs baths (one with a geothermal steam room and waterfall!)
- Hoosier Hot Springs: 1-hour hot mineral water soaks in 4 private areas, plus 3 outdoor pools and the original indoor pool, circa 1937 – and it’s dog-friendly!
- Pelican Spa: guests have unlimited access to five concrete tubs, all indoors – walk-ins welcome!
- Hot Springs Glamp Camp: a quirky and fun glamping spot offering thermal spring soaks in their trendy cowboy tubs
…and about a dozen or so more, haha. Too many to list!
Note that all hot springs are wildly different in terms of their availability to outside guests, locations and views, and public/private offerings. Do your research to see what’s the best fit for you!
Hope that gives you a sense of what T or C is all about! Are you planning to head to the steamy hot springs of Truth of Consequences anytime soon?!