Wandering Around the Warm Springs of Socorro, New Mexico


With the recent cold weather in Albuquerque, the dogs and I have been heading a few miles south to wander where it’s warmer. Last week we checked out the warm springs (the water is around 90°F) west of Socorro. The area was mentioned briefly on page 35 of The Gentle Art of Wandering.

If you look carefully at the topo map below you can see the three springs.

There have been many changes since the topo map was made, but the area is wide open and a perfect place to wander. One of the bigger changes is that the springs are now capped and most of the water is now directed to the City of Socorro water supply.

This is the cap for Cook Spring.


This is the cap for Socorro Spring. It is obviously more important as it is fenced in.

A certain amount of water is still flowing from Cook Spring to feed a small pond. You can put your hand in the water here to feel its warmth.

Because of the warm water, this reed filled pond doesn’t freeze.

The clear warm water supports plenty of wildlife including this very large tadpole. This tadpole is close to four inches long. Some were even larger. The water here is close to three feet deep. It’s not often that you see a year round pond in the desert.

The southern most spring, Sedillo Spring, on the topo map was once a hot spring spa. It is also home of the Socorro isopod. This is the only place in the entire world where this tiny creature lives. A couple of small concrete containment basins have been built to provide a safe habitat for the isopod.

If you get down on your knees, let your eyes relax, and look closely at the water, you’l see the little critters buzzing around like teeny tiny bumper cars.

If you want to learn more about the Socorro Isopod, click here.

After you have you have had your fill of the isopod, you can walk around and see what you can find of the old spa.

Although this looks like a huge swimming pool, I would guess that this is an old reservoir for the City of Socorro water supply. The full water flow from the spring must have been very strong to fill a pool this big. With this much water, the one-time spa must have been amazing.

Just downhill from the large reservoir, there is an older and smaller reservoir.

As you continue your walk you’ll find the remains of several buildings. I’m sure they were part of the one-time spa.

But as you look around, don’t forget to look at the ground. You might see a prehistoric artifact. This is a piece of chert that was a flake or part of a tool. Please remember that if you are fortunate enough to see something like this, leave the artifact where you found it.

This piece of chert might be part of a spear point or a knife. This too should be left where you found it.

The visit to the warm springs west of Socorro is an excellent example of the richness of wandering. In a range of less than a mile you have the opportunity to find so much. You can find warm springs, a very rare creature, a pond with huge tadpoles in the middle of the desert, remains of an old spa, artifacts, quiet, and an opportunity to just be present. When you let yourself to be just here, you’ll be amazed at how much there is around you. Much more than what I have written about in this post.

In fact, I almost forgot to mention that there are several old quarries and mining operations in the immediate area. And where there are old mines and quarries there is a good chance to find an interesting rock. Regardless of what you see or find, it will be time well spent.



  1. I was directed to your blog from http://www.theeastsiderla.com as I am currently a resident of Mt. Washington in Los Angeles. However, my family is from New Mexico so I was intrigued to read more about T or C and Socorro. I still have family in Socorro and used to visit there often while growing up. It’s amazing that I never knew about the warm springs. What a wonderful treat, your writing! Thank you.

  2. And every inch of this is on private property. As of my attempt to visit May 2015, it is carefully patrolled by the landowners who will not hesitate to call the police because you are trespassing. FYI…

    • This must be a recent development as at one time there were many biking and other guides mentioning riding or walking to the old warm springs resort. Certainly, if there are problems with trespass it’s best to avoid this area.

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