Hidden Desert Gems: Elephant Butte and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

The Chihuahua Desert holds a few surprises, among which hot springs, fishing opportunities, and quirky little towns such as Truth or Consequences.

We left Albuquerque and drove south on I-25 until we reached our next destination: a non-assuming patch of dirt and gravel near Truth or Consequences, Monticello RV Park. As we drove out of town, a flock of migrating sandhill cranes paced through the fields, busy finding a bite to eat. The sizeable birds have been around for tens of thousands of years and can be found as far as Siberia and Alaska. In the winter, they migrate south in search of warmth, many stopping in New Mexico, but going as far as Florida.

We settled in at the quiet RV park and set out to explore the area with only a few hours to go before sundown. We came upon a large mass of water: Elephant Butte Reservoir. The reservoir collects water from Rio Grande and provides much-needed irrigation water to the area, as well as a fun playground for locals and visitors. One might even see a pelican or two perched on its banks!

For dinner we scarfed down local tacos from Casa Taco, and chilled with a glass of wine. On our way back to the RV site, we admired a beautiful moonrise and golden sunset over the butte.

Not far from Elephant Butte, we discovered the quirky town of Truth or Consequences. Initially, the town was named Hot Springs after its main attraction, geothermal springs, which attracted many tourists in the 1930s and beyond. When a 50s radio show personality promised free publicity to any town that would change its name to match the name of his show, Hot Springs took him up on it and became Truth or Consequences. The show host Ralph Edwards visited the town each year until his death for a celebratory fiesta involving pageants, parades, rodeos, and rubber duck races—and the tradition still carries on today.

The little town is big on art and charm: murals, metalwork, and various art installations are omnipresent. The local shops are just as fun and colorful. Our doggies made friends with the staff at the Passion Pie Cafe, scoring some homemade doggie biscuits.

The Geronimo Springs Museum features Native American art and history, prehistoric fossils, old windmills, wagons and tools. Farther down the road, the town’s historic bath house district, a 56 acre area listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 (between Post, Van Patten, Pershing and Main Streets) is not to be missed.

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