Truth or Consequences is more than just a funky town with a weird name. For starters, there’s the way it landed that strange moniker. “Truth or Consequences” was actually the name of a famous game show on NBC radio in the 40s and 50s. In 1950, they announced they would celebrate the show’s 10th anniversary by broadcasting from the first town to change its name to Truth or Consequences. Hot Springs, New Mexico jumped at the chance — and won!
But ironically, this bold PR stunt caused a downturn in tourism, since the town’s main draw was no longer right in the name. Regardless, “T or C” remains a great place to relax and “take the waters” in its ancient hot springs. Add the fact that you’re only a short drive from the world’s first commercial SPACEPORT (for real -- like people flying into outer space), and this area is well worth a visit to open your mind, relax your body, and widen your awareness of both the natural and the man-made.
The Chiricahua Apaches were native to Sierra County, and considered the land around present-day Truth or Consequences to be a sacred healing site, thanks to its hot mineral springs. In fact, their warrior chief Geronimo (yes, THE Geronimo) referred to it as the “Place to Pray” before and after battles. The water’s still bubbling today, rising up from a geothermal aquifer at temperatures that hover between 98 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s got a neutral pH and zero unpleasant odor – this water does not stink! It’s just natural, hot bathwater that feels amazing, and it’s also chock-full of minerals for your body to absorb. There’s lots of options to get your tub on, from RV parks to roadside mud cottages, but one of the nicest is the Lodge at Sierra Grande. This is a charming hotel that has been around since 1929 and was recently purchased by CNN honcho Ted Turner, who also owns two ranches in the area. You get a private hot spring soak with each day of your stay here, and it’s a really pretty place with chic southwestern décor throughout.
If you’re up for camping (or just some good old-fashioned al fresco shaggin’) head out to the Gila National Forest, a few hours west of town. At the heart of this parkland is America’s first designated wilderness, the Gila Wilderness, accessible only by foot or horseback. If you’re an experienced mountain man or woman, have at it, but it’s pretty difficult to get into otherwise. But even on its outskirts you’ll be rewarded with some transcendent southwestern natural beauty. We’re talking rust-colored canyons, endless mesas and wild grasslands that are literally awe-inspiring.
If you want to see the man-made end of the awe-inspiring spectrum, drive an hour southeast to Spaceport America. This is the place where Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is about to make history with the world’s first commercial space flight, supposed to happen in 2014. Rides start at $200,000, and there’s already a lengthy waiting list for the three-day training and subsequent sub-orbital flight. Watch this video and tell me you’re not at least intrigued. Right now you can tour the facility by bus, but that will stop as they get closer to the official opening. See you on Mars in 2050.
Back in good old earth-bound T or C, carnivores should make some time for a religious food experience at Blake’s Lotaburger, a burger stand that’s been credited with introducing the Hatch green chile to the hamburger. This place is a culinary destination in New Mexico for good reason — the combination of beef, cheese, and chiles is, in a word, bomb-sauce.
At night underneath the incredible starry sky, you'll find that this cool little town is the perfect escape from the consequences of modern living. Amen, and true dat!