Tag Archives: Rio Grande

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

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One day when I was in the computer lab, The Man and Jerico walked over to Wal-Mart. Once they got there, The Man needed a place to leave Jerico while he went inside to do his shopping. He attached Jerico’s leash to a tree and told the fellow in the RV parked nearby that he’d be back for the dog shortly. That’s how The Man met Mike.

I met Mike a few days later when The Man and I returned to the Wal-Mart. Mike seemed like a nice guy, but he was one of those talkers who seldom quiets long enough for anyone else to squeeze in a word or two. He was in his late 50s, maybe early 60s, and chain smoked while he talked. As far as we could tell, he stayed in the driver’s seat of his old, battered motorhome all day and watched the world of the Wal-Mart parking lot unfold.

On a subsequent visit, Mike told The Man he was waiting to be able to go back to Elephant Butte Lake State Park. The park allows campers to stay for 14 days, after which they must leave for at least a week. Mike was waiting out the time he couldn’t be at the park.

Mike had a New Mexico State Parks Pass. For $180 a year, New Mexico residents can buy this pass allowing them free developed (non-electric/no sewer) camping at any New Mexico state park. (The cost of the pass for residents of other states is $225.) The pass is good for 12 months from the month of purchase. (Learn more about the New Mexico State Parks Pass and/or order one here: https://newmexicostateparks.reserveamerica.com/showPage.do?name=common&commonPath=/htm/NM_AnnualPasses.html.)

Pass holders can stay at any New Mexico state park for up to two weeks before they have to leave, but they can go directly from one state park to another. I asked Mike if he ever went to nearby Caballo Lake State Park (15 miles from the Wal-Mart) or Percha Dam State Park (23 miles from the Wal-Mart). He said because of his motorhome’s poor gas milage, he couldn’t afford to drive to these parks. Instead, he sat at Wal-Mart in the days between his weeks at Elephant Butte Lake.

A couple days before he was to go to Elephant Butte Lake, Mike invited us to visit him there. He actually had two pass cards, one for his motorhome and one for a passenger vehicle. The second pass would go to his buddy who shared the campsite with him, but the buddy wouldn’t be in town for a few more weeks. In the meantime, we could use it to get into the park.

Mike really wanted us to camp on his site with him for two weeks. We considered the option, but ultimately decided not to take him up on his offer. The Man really didn’t want to pack up his entire camp, nor did he want to leave all his belongings unattened on BLM land for one night, much less for two weeks. I know Mike was disappointed when we showed up and said we were only going to stay a few hours. We could tell he was a really lonley guy. We hoped he thought our short visit was better than no visit at all.

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_Butte_Reservoir),

Elephant Butte Reservoir is a reservoir on the Rio Grande in the U.S. state of New Mexico, 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Truth or Consequences. This reservoir is the 84th largest man-made lake in the United States and the largest in New Mexico by total surface area…The reservoir is also part of the largest state park in New Mexico, Elephant Butte Lake State Park.[1]

The name “Elephant Butte” refers to a volcanic core similar to Devils Tower in Wyoming. It is now an island in the lake. The butte was said to have the shape of an elephant lying on its side.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park offers primitive (dry) camping on the shores of the lake, as well as developed camping with and without electric and sewer hookups. The sites in developed areas include a covered picnic table, and drinkable water is available throughout the park. (To learn more about the park, go here: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/ElephantButteLakeActivities.html.)

There are multiple restrooms in the park, some with pit toilets, some with traditional flush toilets. In addition to restrooms, there are shower houses throughout the park. The way things are set up, I don’t think anyone would notice (or care) if someone from the primitive camping area used the facilities when necessary.

After visiting with Mike and some other Elephant Butte Lake campers for a couple of hours, I drove the van over to the nearest open showerhouse. (Our visit was in February 2017, before all the showerhouses were open for the busy summer season.) The Man went to the men’s side of the building, and I went to the women’s.

It was a standard New Mexico state park shower. I had to push a button on the wall to make the water flow. After a few minutes, the water stopped flowing, and I had to push the button again. The water was warm but never got hot. I was chilly the entire time I was in there.

It wasn’t a great shower, but it was a free shower, and to this van dweller, a free shower means a lot.

Panoramic view of Elephant Butte Lake

I took the photos in this post.

The Ten Best Things about Truth or Consequences, NM

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The New Mexico towns I’ve spent the most time in are Taos and Truth or Consequences. Each is special in its own way to me. In my next two posts, I’ll share my ten favorite things about each town. Since I was in Truth or Consequences when I wrote this post, I’ll start there.

The Ten Best Things About Truth or Consequences

#1 My favorite thing in T or C (as the locals call the town) are the historic bathhouses with hot mineral water for soaking. Especially when it’s cold out, I love to soak in that hot, hot water.

#2 The town has a really cool name. Originally the town was called Hot Springs, NM, but in 1950, it became Truth or Consequences to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the radio program of the same name.  I appreciate the reminder to tell the truth or face the consequences.

#3 T or C is warm (or at least warmish) in the winter. When Northern New Mexico is too cold for me, I head south to this town in the Chihuahua Desert.

The cold season lasts from November 22 to February 14 with an average daily high temperature below 59°F. The coldest day of the year is December 25, with an average low of 28°F and high of 50°F.

#4 Miner’s Claim (318 N Broadway Street) is one of the best rock shops I’ve ever visited. The store is crammed packed with gems, minerals, beads, incense, jewelry, knickknacks, and shiny rocks. The guy behind the counter owns the store, and he’s friendly and knowledgeable. While he does stock high-end items, his prices are fair, and there’s plenty in the store for folks on a limited budget.

The turtle that gives Turtleback Mountain its name.

#5 There’s a turtle reclining on one of the mountains overlooking the town! I love geological formations that look like animals!

The sculpture Joy, by R. William Winkler with one of the Pelican Spa buildings in the background.

#6 Truth or Consequences is an art town, and I don’t just mean the work on display in galleries. The town boasts lots of great art on public walls and in front of businesses. From murals to sculptures, there’s lots of cool art to see while walking around T or C.

#7 The town is so into art, it has an Art Hop on the second Saturday of each month. The Art Hop is a great excuse to meet up with friends and see what’s new in the galleries.

#8 The plants are cool in T or C. There are more cacti here than in the Taos area, and the ornamental rosemary grows in huge bushes. I like to break a small branch of rosemary off a bush and tuck it behind my ear for a smell more delicious than any perfume. The last time The Man and I left T or C, we cut several large pieces of rosemary from a plant in front of a gas station and arranged it on the dashboard for a great smelling van.

The Rio Grande as seen from Rotary Park.

#9 Folks can get up close and personal with the Rio Grande in Truth or Consequences. The river runs right through town. It’s accessible from Ralph Edwards Park, as well as Rotary Park. People fish in the river from Rotary Park and south of it too. If a person wanted to, s/he could wade right into the Rio Grande in T or C.

A panoramic view of Elephant Butte Lake from the campground in the state park.

#10 If the Rio Grande isn’t enough water for a desert dweller, T or C is less than ten miles from the 40,000 acre Elephant Butte Lake State Park.  Elephant Butte Lake is New Mexico’s largest body of water. The lake offers miles of trails, two marinas, sandy beaches, fishing, boating,  and a campground.

Any questions about Truth or Consequences can be left in the comments, and I will do my best to answer them.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Love Locks

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Double Heart Lock

I saw this love lock on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the fall of 2015.

I think I must have first become aware of love locks when walking across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos, County, NM some time between 2012 and 2014. I saw a padlock affixed to the bridge’s railing, but I can’t remember if someone explained the lock was there to symbolize everlasting love, or if I figured it out on my own. Later, I heard all about love locks on the 81st episode of the Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase podcast (http://betty.libsyn.com/81st-show-lovelocks); that episode is called “Lovelocks.”

I Love You

This love lock was also on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the fall of 2015. I love the detail on this lock, which was obviously not picked up at a hardware store on a whim.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_lock,

A love lock or love padlock is a padlock which sweethearts lock to a bridge, fence, gate, or similar public fixture to symbolize their love.[1] Typically the sweethearts’ names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love. Since the 2000s, love locks have proliferated at an increasing number of locations worldwide. They are now mostly treated by municipal authorities as litter or vandalism, and there is some cost to their removal. However, there are authorities who embrace them, and who use them as fundraising projects or tourism attractions.

The history of love padlocks dates back at least 100 years to a melancholic Serbian tale of World War I, with an attribution for the bridge Most Ljubavi (lit. the Bridge of Love) in spa town of Vrnjačka Banja.[2] A local schoolmistress named Nada, who was from Vrnjačka Banja, fell in love with a Serbian officer named Relja. After they committed to each other Relja went to war in Greece where he fell in love with a local woman from Corfu. As a consequence, Relja and Nada broke off their engagement. Nada never recovered from that devastating blow, and after some time she died due to heartbreak from her unfortunate love. As young women from Vrnjačka Banja wanted to protect their own loves, they started writing down their names, with the names of their loved ones, on padlocks and affixing them to the railings of the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet.[3][4]

Lock Trio

I think this is the only trio of locks I’ve ever seen. These were also on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the fall of 2015.

In the rest of Europe, love padlocks started appearing in the early 2000s.[5] The reasons love padlocks started to appear vary between locations and in many instances are unclear. However, in Rome, the ritual of affixing love padlocks to the bridge Ponte Milvio can be attributed to the 2006 book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, who made a film adaptation in 2007.[6][7]

Tule River 2The next times I saw love locks was during my adventure on the Tule River in California. (You can read about that adventure here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/05/22/steps-to-the-kern/.) As I walked down the steps to the river, I saw a lock left by Ash & Kate.

South Creek Falls Fence

Many love locks were left on the barrier fence at South Creek Falls.

A few weeks after that, I saw more love locks at South Creek Falls. (Read more about South Creek Falls here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/?s=south+creek+falls.) Quite a few people had left locks on the barrier fence.

Yellow Lock

This yellow combination lock was one of the love locks I saw fastened to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the fall of 2015.

When I returned to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in the fall, I found many people had affixed love locks to the bridge’s railing.

During a brief visit to Tucson, AZ in late 2015, I spent an hour or so one afternoon wandering around the hip little North Fourth Avenue shopping area. I was excited to see several metal heart sculptures made for people to fasten on their love locks.

A brief announcement from February 2015 on the Arizona Daily Star’s tucson.com (http://tucson.com/put-a-lock-on-it/article_b40d5fb6-b244-11e4-9f1c-5724f278e6a8.html) says,

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This is one of the heart sculptures made for love locks on Tucson’s North Fourth Avenue.

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Here’s another heart sculpture made for love locks on Tucson’s North Fourth Avenue. There are four or five of these hears on North Fourth Avenue.

North Fourth Avenue is going all out for Valentine’s Day — big sales, live music, and all sorts of hustle and bustle. And get this: there will a number of heart sculptures along the avenue. Bring a padlock inscribed with your names, attach it to a sculpture, and lock in your love by throwing away the key…When a sculpture becomes full it will become a display in Haggerty Plaza.

Tomorrow I will share more photos of love locks that I took in California, New Mexico, and Arizona.

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I took all photos in this post.

The John Dunn Bridge and Blackrock Hot Spring

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SDC10006The John Dunn Bridge is located in Arroyo Hondo, Taos County, New Mexico.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dunn_Bridge, The John Dunn Bridge

crosses the Rio Grande near the confluence of the Rio Hondo.

[It] is located about three miles west of Arroyo Hondo on a gravel road that parallels Rio Hondo.[1] The road, off of NM 522, runs through Bureau of Land Management property, [and] is known as John Dunn Bridge Road and County Road B-007.

In or after 1893 John Dunn bought a bridge that crossed the Rio Grande and established a business taking passengers and freight from the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad at Tres Piedras to Taos. The bridge burned down and he rebuilt it in 1908.[5]

He operated the bridge until 1912 when he sold it to the Territory of New Mexico who made it a free bridge.[5]

Black Rock Hot Springs are located off of a dirt road on the western side of the Rio Grande after crossing the bridge.[10]

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This is a view of the Rio Grande flowing through the Rio Grande Gorge, taken from the trail to Blackrock Hot Spring.

According to http://www.gorp.com/parks-guide/blackrock-hot-springs-outdoor-pp2-guide-cid402419.html,

Few of northern New Mexico’s bounty of hot springs have escaped the hands of developers and remain in a primitive condition. Blackrock Hot Spring has two characteristics that kept it from development: It has low flow, and it is located on the west bank of the rugged Rio Grande Gorge.

In 1900, John Dunn of Taos purchased the bridge at the Rio Hondo with money he won at the poker table. It turned out that owning a bridge on the Rio Grande was quite a gamble, too, for the next spring, flood took the bridge with it into the rugged gorge below. Dunn was a tireless man who quickly rebuilt the bridge and then expanded his business interests by starting a stage service running over the bridge from Taos to Sevilleta, a whistle stop on the railroad.

Said to be a fugitive from the Texas Rangers, Dunn was full of brilliant if somewhat shady ideas. He built a small hotel at his bridge and made the crossing an overnight stop on his stage line, an arrangement that forced passengers to pay for food and lodging before continuing to Taos the next morning. With the crossing securely his, Dunn eyed the hot springs a half-mile below, wondering how he could exploit them. He probably took a few guests over the rugged walking trail along the river to the springs, but the low flow of hot water, plus the fact that the springs were frequently covered by the runoff-swollen Rio Grande, kept Dunn from taking further advantage of the spring.

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View of the Rio Grande and the eastern gorge wall, taken from Blackrock Hot Spring.

Far from isolated today, Blackrock Hot Spring is New Mexico’s most accessible primitive mineral spring. From the parking area at the hairpin turn above Dunn’s bridge, a well-developed trail dives from the road and heads downstream. The trail descends quickly to the river, reaching the spring in less than a quarter-mile.

The pool is small, and the volume of hot water is low. The mineral water issues from the base of the thick pile of black lava in a narrow drainage in the wall of the gorge. Boulders that have tumbled down the watercourse have completely covered the spot where the water bubbles up from the surface.

I’ve visited the John Dunn Bridge and Blackrock Hot Spring many times. In fact, Blackrock Hot Spring was the first natural hot spring I ever soaked in.

In the summer, visitors and locals alike enjoy swimming or floating in inner tubes in the Rio Grande just below the John Dunn Bridge. Blackrock Hot Spring is popular for soaking year round.

There are actually two pools at Blackrock Hot Spring, one warmer than the other. The cooler one is right next to the Rio Grande, and I’ve seen strong swimmers jump right into the river for a quick cool-down. The less adventuress can achieve a similar effect at a slower rate by taking a dip in the cool pool.

There’s no closing time on the hot spring pools, and although folks are not supposed to stay overnight in the small parking area, I’ve done it with friends a time or two. Because I prefer to soak in the hot water when the air is cool, my favorite time to utilize the pools–especially in the summer–is around 2am. It’s usually (although not always) empty then, and other middle-of-the-night soakers (if they’re not drunk partiers), tend to be quiet and respectful of the sacredness of the spring. A friend and I once sat in the hot water with no one else around and watched a meteor shower. That was a sweet night.

Blackrock is one of my favorite undeveloped soaking spots. Clothing is optional as far as the hippies who soak there are concerned, and I’ve never heard of a ranger hassling anyone for being naked there. The water is full of lithium (so the locals say), and it’s not only relaxing, but mood-lifting as well. The view is fantastic, and if there are no stupid rich people around talking about their real estate investments, it’s a wonderful place to rest and rejuvenate.

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View of the John Dunn Bridge from the trail to Blackrock Hot Spring.

 I took all the photos in this post.

Where to Stay in T or C

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I’ve been writing about Truth or Consequences, NM in the last few days, and several people have told me they now have T or C on their list of places to visit. It would hardly be fair to get folks excited about visiting the town and not tell them where they can stay.

The first time I visited T or C, I had the good fortune to spend a week in a motel. I stayed at the Rocket Inn (http://www.rocketinn.net/, 605 N Date Street), a small motor court with only nine rooms for rent. Built in 1948, and originally called the Red Haven Motel, the entire place has been restored. According to the website, the

fully modernized King Deluxe and Double Queen rooms…include fridge, microwave, WIFI and HDTV/basic cable. [The property is] family run, dog-friendly and walking distance to Main Street.

I chose the Rocket Inn because I could walk from my room to downtown where I was able to sample the wonderful hot springs bathhouses. (To read more about the hot springs and bathhouses in the town, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/05/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/06/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/08/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences-part-2/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/07/artwork-from-la-paloma/.) Everyone working at the Rocket Inn, from the owners to the housekeepers, were exceedingly nice to me and made sure I had everything I wanted and needed. The rooms were impeccably clean, and I felt perfectly safe there.

SDC10011The third time I visited Truth or Consequences, I stayed at the Artesian Bath House and RV Park (https://sites.google.com/site/artesianbathhousenm/Home) at 312 Marr Street for two months. Nightly and weekly rates at the Artesian are reasonable, but the monthly rate is a fantastic deal. (Read up on the Artesian’s rates here: https://sites.google.com/site/artesianbathhousenm/Home/rates.)

According to the business’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Artesian-Bath-House-Trailer-Court/111366938897101),

The Artesian Bath House opened for business June, 1930. For over 33 years the Martin’s [sic] have owned, operated, and maintained their commercial hot springs.

The Artesian is great for vandwellers, as there  are restrooms on-site, and one can take a hot bath if one wants to clean up.

I have also had great success stealth parking and boondocking in the town of Truth or Consequences. I’m not sure if I’m actually as stealthy as I like to think I am or if no one in T or C cares about who’s sleeping in a vehicle in a residential area, but when I left in December of 2015, I’d never been bothered during my nights in the van. Lots of folks park overnight in the parking lot of the T or C Wal-Mart. I have seen everything from luxury Class A’s to old-school motorhomes held together with duct tape and prayer to stealth vans parked in that lot. On some nights I’ve counted a dozen vehicles parked there, then counted them all again in the morning as I walked toward the doors of the store. Sometimes I call that parking lot the Wal-Mart RV park.

For folks who want to get out of town and into nature, there’s plenty of that in the area too.

Paseo del Rio Campground SignTruth or Consequences is very close to Elephant Butte dam and Elephant Butte State Park. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_Butte_Dam,

Elephant Butte Dam…is a concrete gravity dam on the Rio Grande river near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The dam impounds Elephant Butte Reservoir, which is used for both recreation and agriculture. The construction of the dam has reduced the flow of the Rio Grande to a small stream, with high releases occurring only during the summer irrigation season, or during years of exceptionally heavy snow melt.

Elephant Butte Dam

Elephant Butte Dam is the large concrete structure in the middle of this photo.

The Paseo del Rio Recreation Area is part of Elephant Butte State Park. The Paseo del Rio includes a campground I stayed at for a couple of nights during my first visit to the area.

When I was there, the campground did not offer water, sewage, or electrical hookups, but each campsite had a fire ring and picnic table covered by a ramada. There were flush toilets and sinks with running water on one end of the campground, near the day-use parking lot, and portable toilets at the other end. I believe the camping fee was $10 per night.

The Rio Grande and Mountain

This photo shows the Rio Grande as it looked from the trail that ran through the campground.

A 3/4 mile trail with “interpretive signage of historic interest” (http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/SPD/TrailsatStateParks.html) ran through the campground and along the Rio Grande, and there was a historic fish hatchery in the recreation area.

I found the campground peaceful. There wasn’t much traffic at night on the road closest to the campground, so there wasn’t much disruptive automotive noise.

Fish Hatchery Lake

This photo shows one of the fish hatchery lakes. The water drew birds, so there was a lot of avian life in the area.

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This photo shows Caballo Lake, with the Caballo Mountains beyond it.

I also spent a couple of nights at the Percha Flats camping area at Caballo Lake State Park. Percha Flats was a primitive camping area with no designated campsites, no running water, no electricity, and no hookups of any kind. When I visited, there was a pit toilet and a dumpster near the entrance to the camping area. The camping fee was $8 per night. There were no designated hiking trails in the area where I stayed, but I did take some nice walks along the edge of the lake.

The final campground I stayed in near Truth or Consequences was in Percha Dam State Park. SDC10028The campground had many developed campsites, although mine only had a picnic table. My site had no ramada, and no hookups, although there may have been a water spigot there. (I can’t remember.) Many of the sites had electrical hookups, but I decided not to splurge on that. The campground also had flush toilets, sinks with running water, and hot showers that didn’t cost extra to use. I did enjoy a nice hot shower during my stay.

My last tip is a boondocking spot about 3o miles away from Truth or Consequences. Last time I was there, the cute little town of Hillsboro (population 124) allowed folks to park overnight in the community’s tiny park across the street from the Black Range Museum. There were a couple of pit toilets in the park, as well as a few informational placards, and campfires were not allowed. I think this spot would be a good place to spend the night on a trip between T or C and Silver City.

So there you have it. I’ve offered up several choices of places to stay as you start your adventures in Truth or Consequences and the surrounding area.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

 

 

Truth or Consequences Hot Springs (My Experiences Part 2)

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In a previous post (http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/02/06/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs-my-experiences/), I wrote about my experiences at four bathhouses (Blackstone, Indian Springs, La Paloma, and La Paloma Too) in Truth or Consequences (T or C), New Mexico. In this post, I will share my experiences at three more bathhouses I’ve visited in T or C.

I soaked at Riverbend Hot springs (100 Austin Street, http://www.riverbendhotsprings.com/) once in March of 2014. SDC10007Riverbend has both public and private pools for soaking.

According to http://www.riverbendhotsprings.com/springs.html#pub,

The public pools consist of five pools that cascade from one to another, creating a different temperature in each one. Temperatures usually range from around 100-108 degrees. They are situated around a shaded river deck and include a cold shower for cooling off, as well as our large shaded patio with chaise loungers, mist fans (in the summer), dining tables and chairs, and our barrel sauna…The cold and clear Rio Grande River is also accessible for swimming at your own risk (closed when the river levels are fluctuating).

The Riverbend website (http://www.riverbendhotsprings.com/springs.html#pvt) has this to say about their private pools:

Our private pools are perfect for those that desire to bathe au natural or would like more peaceful privacy. They are walled on three sides but open to the riverside mountain view. Each have their own river deck, cooling mister systems and reclining lounge chairs or benches. They are available for rental by the public and are discounted for overnight guests.

I soaked in the Rio pool.

The Pool I soaked in outside, next to the Rio Grande

This is the Rio, the pool I soaked in outside, next to the Rio Grande

The Riverbend website says,

Rio (“river”) is very popular for its extremely close proximity to the river, its high temperature, and its quiet flow of water. This cozy pool seats two people very comfortably and has a temperature of about 107-108 degrees. It has a small shaded deck for cooling off between dips.

The private cabana (?) housing my hot little pool

Here’s a view of the deck from the pool I soaked in.

The water in the pool was nice and hot, and the pool was deep. I enjoyed being outside naked, and I enjoyed the view. Since most of the soaking in T or C is done indoors, in bathhouses, soaking out in nature was a real treat. However, even though there was a wall between my soaking area and the one next to me, I could clearly hear the voices and follow the conversation of the men in the next pool. Hearing other people’s inane conversation was less than relaxing.

Soaking in the public pools at Riverbend costs $10 per hour. Private soaks cost $15 on a walk-in basis and $10 for overnight guests. Reservations are taken for private soaks.

 This is the view I had while I soaked in the hot pool at Riverbend. That's the Rio Grande in the forefront. Turtle Mountain is in the background.

This is the view I had while I soaked in the Rio pool at Riverbend. That’s the Rio Grande in the forefront. Turtleback Mountain is in the background.

I’ve soaked many, many times at the Charles Motel and Hot Springs Charles Motel(601 N Broadway Street, http://www.charlesspa.com/index.html), the first time in March 2014, most recently in December 2015. At the Charles, there is a women’s side and a men’s side, both with individual tubs (much like conventional home bathtubs with faucets and drains) for soaking. I’ve only ever been on the women’s side, so that’s what I will write about. Also, the Charles offers soaking in outdoor, rooftop Jacuzzi tubs, but I’ve never soaked in them or even been on the roof to look at them.

IMG_4085The photo to the left shows the women’s side. Each tub is in its own little cubical, separated on two sides by walls that go almost all the way to the floor and a curtain in the back. There is drinking water available to anyone soaking.

While the walls and curtains offer visual privacy, they don’t do much to block sound. Sometimes women soaking in tubs next to each other want to chat, which makes for a less than relaxing experience for people like me who want to soak in silence. I’ve found that the best time for me to soak at the Charles is first thing in the morning, as soon as it opens at 8am. I’m usually the only person soaking that early in the day, and the whole area is blissfully peaceful.

This is my favorite tub to soak in at the Charles. It's shorter than the rest, which is ok since I am short, and it's deeper than the other tubs too. I like deep! I also like the pink and blue tile.

This is my favorite tub to soak in at the Charles. It’s shorter than the rest, which is ok since I am short, and it’s deeper than the other tubs too. I like deep! I also like the pink and blue tile.

Private soaks at the Charles cost $6 for an entire hours, and that includes a towel! The outdoor Jacuzzi tubs seat 4 to 6 and cost $8/10 per person per hour. According to the website,

Temperature [in the baths] ranges from 98 ° to 115 °F… All our tubs are drained, cleaned and sanitized after each use.

Of all the places I’ve soaked, The Artesian Bath House and Trailer Court (312 Marr Street, https://www.facebook.com/Artesian-Bath-House-Trailer-Court-111366938897101/) is probably my favorite. I first soaked there in March of 2014 and most recently in December 2015.

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Like at the Charles, soaking is done in tubs much like those in the home, tubs with faucets from where the water flows and drains through which the water exits. Unlike at the Charles, at the Artesian, each tub is in its own private room with a door that locks. At the Artesian, I do not hear other people’s conversations while I am soaking. At the Artesian, I get an hour of quiet, peaceful, hot water bliss.

The Artesian also has at least one large tub, big enough for two (or maybe three) people. I was able to soak in the large tub once when the individual tubs were all taken. There is plenty of room to stretch out in the big tub.

My last one-hour soak at the Artesian cost six dollars. The bathhouse is closed on Wednesdays.

The Artesian is also an RV park, open to nightly, weekly, and monthly stays. I spent two months there in the winter of 2014. Because the Artesian has restrooms and baths, it is a perfect place for a van dweller like me to stay. The monthly rate was extremely affordable, and included WiFi access. I was also able to utilize the electric hookups to charge my laptop and phone batteries. Folks staying there pay for the electricity they use, but my usage was small and I only payed a few dollars a month for it. Also, because I was a tenant, soaks cost me just $3 an hour.

I miss soaking in the wonderful, hot mineral water in T or C, especially in the winter.