Truth or Consequences offers a mix of funky, small-town charm and outdoor fun. T or C, as it's known in New Mexico, got its curious moniker in the 1950s, when the eponymous television show offered to film an episode from a small town willing to change its name to match the show's. The stunt helped get T or C on the map and draw in new tourists. Today, water brings those who want to spend leisure time at New Mexico's largest lake and soak in the town's hot springs.
Gas up at Las Cruces if you're coming from El Paso — there are no gas stations along the 70-mile stretch between Las Cruces and T or C.
If you prefer sandy beaches to desert dunes, head to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, just 5 miles outside T or C. In addition to swimming secluded coves, you can rent boats, kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, and even a houseboat from one of the local marinas. For land lovers, there's hiking, camping, and fishing — Elephant Butte Lake is recognized as one of the best fisheries in the Southwest. The park and surrounding area also have exceptional, seasonal bird watching. You'll see American white pelicans, sandhill cranes, and snow geese at the lake. elephantbuttelake.net
Visitors can also explore nearby Percha Dam, Caballo Lake, or Bosque del Apache, an important resting ground for migratory birds in the U.S. www.fws.gov
Riverbend Hot Springs
Photo courtesy Riverbend Hot Springs
Health seekers have flocked to the hot springs at Truth or Consequences for more than a century. In fact, the Chiricahua Apaches thought the springs had sacred healing powers and called the area "Place to Pray." Although the spiritual benefits are questionable, the waters at T or C get high praise. Located atop an ancient aquifer that produces odorless water at temperatures between 98 and 115 degrees, the springs have a pH of 7 and a high mineral content, with the biggest concentration being chloride, a natural sterilizing agent that ensures purity. Today, visitors can soak at one of the 10 commercial bathhouses in the historic district. Ranging from sleekly modern to quaintly Southwest, most of the hot spring spas welcome walk-ins, and therapeutic treatments are available by appointment. sierracountynewmexico.info/attractions/truth-or-consequences-hot-springs
Spaceport America Visitor Center
Photo courtesy Spaceport America Visitor Center
After soaking, explore Truth or Consequences' small, historic downtown, which has shops, galleries, and restaurants and hosts the monthly Second Saturday Art Hop from 6 to 9 p.m. torcmainstreet.org
You can learn more about the history of the area at the Geronimo Springs Museum, where you'll find exhibitions of ancient Southwestern pottery, Apache artifacts, and a reassembled miner's cabin. geronimospringsmuseum.com
You'll also find the Spaceport America Visitor Center, where you can book a tour of the Spaceport, the world's first facility built to increase the commercial accessibility of spaceflight, located 35 miles southeast of T or C. The four-hour tour departs from the visitor center Thursday through Monday at 9 a.m. Visitors can see the future and prepare for their own trip to space by trying the G-Shock Trainer. spaceportamerica.com