Soaking and Wandering in Truth or Consequences


In 1951 the citizens of Hot Springs, New Mexico renamed their town Truth or Consequences after a popular TV game show. And when it’s cold during the winter in Albuquerque, there may be no better place to wander to than Truth or Consequences over 120 miles to the south. There you can soak in hot mineral water for next to nothing and wander around one of the funkiest towns in America.

Prior to the construction of Elephant Butte Dam on the Rio Grande in 1916 the area that is now downtown Truth or Consequences was a swamp with warm water seeping into it. The warm water was used by the Apaches and early settlers as a place to soak and heal. With the new dam now controlling floods on the Rio Grande, the swamp was filled in and the land developed into a new community called Hot Springs, New Mexico.

The name was appropriate as the entire central area of the community sits above a hot water aquifer. Many of the new residents took advantage of the hot water to heat their building or to open a spa for soaking in the hot mineral laden water. Many of those building are still standing and are now quite old.

As you approach Truth or Consequences and get off the Interstate, you’ll see a new Walmart and some newer services near the highway. As you follow the old road into town, you’ll pass the usual array of some really old motels, a few auto parts stores, some thriving businesses, and a decent amount of empty stores. You’ll soon recognize that this is not the most affluent town in America.

And when you finally reach the old center of town, it may not jump out at you as America’s cutest town.

Looking west on Main Street in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

But if you park the car, get out and just wander around, the town’s funkiness will soon start to grab you. I have no idea what the rents are, but my guess is that they are affordable. And the affordability may be why a colorful array of creative and artistic people have descended upon the town to settle down.

As you walk around you’ll run into all types of decorations.

The town has many cottages built in the 1920s.

You can still the WPA insignia in the town’s curbs and sidewalks.

As you walk around you’ll run into many places to take a soak. Some are upscale, but many are very affordable. My favorite is Hay-Yo-Kay.

Hay-Yo-Kay Hot Springs

For only $5.00 you can soak for 30 minutes in amazing hot mineral water in a gravel bottom pool in your own private room. Better yet I have never had to wait to take a soak. If Truth or Consequences were closer to Santa Fe the price would be out the roof and you would have to make a reservation days in advance. For more information on Hay-Yo-Kay, you can visit their website – click here.

But let’s continue wandering around to see what we can find.

Steam coming from hot water flowing through a sewer on a cold morning.

One of the many spas in Truth or Consequences. This one is across the street from Hay-Yo-Kay.


This spa right on the Rio Grande started out as a youth hostel complete with a tipi. Riverbend Hot Springs still has the tipi but has made many upgrades as its clientele grew older and could afford to pay more.

Move over one street and you start running into shops. You can’t have a laid back town without a place to buy a used book and just hang out.

Keep walking, there’s still more to find.

Although the Post Office has moved out of the town center, the 1930s Post Office building still stands.

You can even find a plaque dedicated to Ralph Edwards, the host of Truth or Consequences game show and the town’s namesake, on the local museum.

There are plenty of art galleries for local artists to sell their wares.

And yet another place to soak.

And as you walk around you might seem some textures that catch your eye.

Although energy healer Magnolia Ellis died in 1974, her building still stands. A roadside historical marker outside of town describes her career as a healer.

But what may be even more amazing than the water is that the special nature of the town attracted an outstanding chef who built his restaurant in what had been an empty building.

Who would think that this very ordinary building would house an extraordinary restaurant complete with an open kitchen and delicious Italian food?

This restaurant alone is worth the drive to Truth or Consequences. You’ll like whatever you order. The food is that good.

Who would think that a modest little town would have so much to offer. What I didn’t mention is that Truth or Consequences is one of the two gateways to a spaceport being developed in the desert 25 miles to the east. Hopefully, some of the well-heeled space tourists will take the time to enjoy the town’s charm. But then again, maybe they should stay at the spaceport. We don’t need to drive up the price of a good soak.


  1. What a great tour around our wonderful funky town! Thanks!

  2. Great tour. We all need to slow down and see whats really around us. I’ve passed by T or C a dozen times on my way to some outdoor destination or another and never stopped to see the town, Thanks for the great tour.

    • Glad you liked the tour. T or C is one of my favorite places. It’s well worth checking out the next time you are in the area.

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