Downtown Truth or Consequences, photo by Judd Irish Bradley
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is a small resort town with a year round population of just over 8,000. This little town with a big name is famous for its hot mineral springs alongside the flowing Rio Grande. Truth or Consequences has remained a lesser-known haven for nature lovers and those who want variety in their surroundings with a mild climate. As a result, the town has remained unspoiled and has not seen local development run rampant or real estate prices rise beyond the reach of long time locals. Here the breathtaking sandstone bluffs, nearby state parks and sunny, deep blue skies remain the biggest neighborhood attractions.
Situated on the banks of the Rio Grande in southwest New Mexico, Truth or Consequences has long been a preferred vacation site for New Mexico natives already familiar with its charms.
Traditionally, they have come to bathe in the soothing hot springs and participate in the many recreational opportunities in the area and at the two large lakes nearby. In the past decade Truth or Consequences has begun to gain more national attention and praise. National publications such as Where to Retire have recently named the city as one of the top retirement destinations in the United States; and the number of retirees relocating here continues to grow.
As we reclaim out hot mineral baths heritage, now is the time to visit, relax in some of the finest, yet to be rediscovered hot springs in the country and experience the charms of this quiet little town that is still an icon of the genteel old west.
One of the biggest draws of Truth of Consequences is its climate. Located on the banks of the Rio Grande in the southwestern section of New Mexico, Truth or Consequences sits at 4,260 feet above the scorching heat of the lowland summers. High temperatures average around 92 in July and 89 in August. These figures are much more moderate than elsewhere in New Mexico, and the famously low humidity makes warm temperatures quite comfortable. Even the hottest days cool down to the low 60s at night.
Winters are quite comfortable, with an average high of 55 degrees. Though it does occasionally snow, the flakes usually melt away with the afternoon sunshine. With fewer than ten inches of rainfall a year, you can look forward to sunny skies and outdoor activities that are never cancelled due to weather. Because of the wonderfully predicable weather, many Truth or Consequences residents are unabashedly "outdoorsy," and often can be found hiking, golfing, or fishing at one of the local reservoirs. Another bonus of this semi-arid climate is the nightly show: New Mexico has absolutely brilliant sunsets and an unpolluted night sky brimming with bright constellations and the luminescent Milky Way.
There are several eateries in the downtown area, including a shady sidewalk deli (The Happy Belly Deli) serving great breakfast and lunch. Other downtown restaurants options include Cafe BellaLuca (excellent Italian) and Groovy Gritz. La Cocina, Pacific Grill and Sunset Grill offer good American and Mexican food north of downtown. Marias and Hacienda are two tasty Mexican restaurants on the south end of town. Fine steaks can be had at Los Arcos Steak House. You’ll also find plent of fast food - a Subway, Pizza Hut, KFC, and McDonalds, near our northernmost exit off I-25 (Uptown).
While we are a small community, we do have a Convention/Conference Center suitable for large groups and small conventions, trade shows and concerts. This 1,000 persons capacity facility is fully equipped with a stage, dressing rooms, sound & lights, and has several comfortable meeting rooms:
This is just the tip of the iceberg for festivals in and around "T or C." The area is home to some of the most interesting and varied events you'll ever find. Every May, the Ralph Edwards T or C Fiesta celebrates ancient festive traditions in honor of the game show host who brought the town so much fame. The Sierra County fair brings midway rides, livestock judging and entertainment every October. And the Veteran's Day Antique & Classic Car Show is a great time to admire America's love affair with the automobile.
More great events are centered around Elephant Butte Lake. From June's Chile Cook-off to the July 4th Fireworks, the Lake is the place to be. You can't miss the hot air balloon regatta held here every year. As one of the largest rallies of its kind, the regatta attracts hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the globe and is sure to please young and old alike.
Of course, Truth or Consequences is blessed with New Mexico's growing artistic reputation. You'll find a number of art galleries here, boasting a stable of local and regional talent as well as works by artists from as far away as New Hampshire and Washington.
Visit the Sierra County Tourism site for event information.
Thanks to the many retirees in this area, Truth or Consequences offers much more comprehensive medical facilities than one expect to find in a town of this size. Sierra Vista Hospital is a Joint Powers Facility sponsored by Sierra County, the City of Truth or Consequences, and the village of Williamsburg. The hospital is a 43-bed facility offering a wide range of inpatient and outpatient services.
Other medical facilities include the Sierra Health Care Center, a 110-bed nursing home, and the New Mexico Veterans center. Other services found in Sierra County include home health care assistance, a respiratory service, and a public health office. The city is also home to a pharmacies and a chiropractic office.
To accommodate a burgeoning tourist trade, many Truth or Consequences residents work in the service industry. The majority of jobs are either at the local state parks, at the resorts and spas that have built up around the hot springs, or in the many area museums, gift shops and boutiques. Thanks to its dependable tourist influx, the economy in Truth or Consequences is relatively stable. The large and growing population of retirees adds another steady source of money to the economy without significantly impacting the job market.
Although high-tech firms are currently based in the city, the city council still has a keen eye turned toward the future. In recent years, the city has begun to lobby for the state-of-the-art Spaceport program, a launch and salvage operation that is considering Sierra County as a base.
Estate/Cost of Living
Truth or Consequences offers some of the most affordable housing found anywhere in the United States. In fact, more than half of the homes sold here in the past year cost less than $60,000. Although Truth or Consequences is home to only a handful of subdivisions, new developments in the area have recently sold lots for as little as ten thousand dollars per acre.
Though this is a relatively small housing market, it actually offers a surprisingly wide variety of homes, ranging in price from $40,000 to upwards of half a million. Most of the high-end housing is found in nearby Elephant Butte, the little town's affluent neighbor to the north.
Everyday costs in Truth or Consequences are below the national average, which is surprising for a small town with a tourist economy. Any way you look at it, Truth or Consequences is one affordable choice.
Sunset over Elephant Butte Lake, photo by Judd Irish Bradley
There's no question that the main recreational draw in Truth or Consequences is its famous mineral baths. There are no fewer than ten such spas operating within the city limits. Most are located in the downtown area, and prices are quite reasonable.
Sierra County is known as the recreational paradise of the Southwest. Here are the largest lakes in New Mexico, with an abundance of water sports, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, biking, horseback riding, four-wheeling, golfing, ghost towns, sunset vistas and much more.
A river runs through it. The Rio Grande River flows through the town, offering bird watching and fishing just a stroll from downtown and its old hot springs district.. There are two major bird sanctuaries on the Rio Grande River flyway. Caballo Lake and Bosque del Apache, well known for Sand Hill Cranes, Canadian Geese and Whooping Cranes.
A great way to begin sampling the Truth or Consequences area's recreational activities is by visiting the three nearby state parks. Elephant Butte Lake State Park, located a mere five miles from the city proper, is home to Elephant Butte Lake, an impressive 36,000 acre reservoir that offers year round sport fishing for black and white bass, catfish, pike and crappie. If trout are your preferred game, try casting for the trophy rainbows of the Rio Grande River.
From April to October water skiing and tubing are other popular activities. Due to its great fishing and the park's network of scenic hiking trails, Elephant Butte Lake State Park has become a preferred destination for vacationers nationwide, attracting over a million visitors each year.
If you want a more intimate outdoor setting, take a trip down to Percha Dam State Park, situated just below Caballo Lake. Just a twenty-minute drive from downtown, this park also offers great sport fishing, and its campground includes such amenities as sheltered picnic areas, electric hookups, and restroom facilities outfitted with showers. Supplies can be easily procured in the nearby town of Arrey. Campsites can go quickly during the weekends, so if you're planning a weekend trip, be sure to get there early.
To enjoy New Mexico's beauty from the comfort of your car, try the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway. Headquartered in Truth or Consequences, the road climbs over 4,000 feet from desert lakes up to forested mountain passes. This is truly some of the most spectacular natural beauty in the southwest.
A wide range of splendid natural environments surrounds Truth or Consequences. To the east lie the brilliant dunes of White Sands National Monument, while to the southwest are the strange formations of Rock Hound and City of Rocks State Park. North on the Rio Grande, you can run exhilarating Class 3 and 4 rapids through spectacular canyons. Due west are the Gila Cliff Dwellings and evergreen slopes of the Mimbres Mountains.
What kind of NIGHT LIFE is there in T-or-C?
Things get pretty quiet here around 8 o’clock. But, you can find live entertainment or karaoke on weekends at a couple of local bars, and only five miles away in Elephant Butte, there is Bossa Mundo, a small cafe with live entertainment on weekends. In the summertime, the Damsite Restaurant has live entertainment in the patio, by the Damsite Marina.
What is there to “do” in the town?
There are gift shops, restaurants, museums, art galleries, and a movie theater all within walking distance. Also downtown are second hand stores, a collector bookstore, health food stores and a park with children’s play equipment and skateboard park. Two lakes are each five miles away for fishing, swimming, and hiking. rock climbing, horseback riding, and jet skiing are all available in the area, and Turtleback Mountain is a great 4-hour hike across the river.
What is there to “see” in Truth or Consequences?
The town itself is very small (one stop light), picturesque, quiet and charming. There is no Starbucks, Chili’s or Applebee’s. In other words, it is a perfect getaway. Drive out to beautiful Elephant Butte Lake (40,000 surface acres, the largest lake in New Mexico) and Dam Site.
Our small ghost towns - Kingston, Hillsboro, Chloride, Cuchillo, and more - are nearby, and the Gila Forest is only 30 miles away, all set like centerpiece jewels in the beautiful setting of deep azure skies and the wild desert vistas surrounding us.
Within two hours’ drive are White Sands, Gila Forest, Gila Cliff Dwellings, City of Rocks, Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, the Salt Mission Trail, the VLA (Very Large Array - seen in movie Contact), and, of course, Old Mexico.
We are midway between three of the natural wonders of the world only a day trip away: the Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns, and Karchner Caves.
What major attractions are a day’s drives away?
The Grand Canyon is 8 hours using a shortcut through Socorro.
Carlsbad Caverns and Karchner Caves are 3.5 hours over the mountains.
Ski Apache in Ruidoso is 3 hours east.
Horse Racing in Ruidoso is 3 hours east.
Gila Cliff Dwellings is 3 hours southwest.
Tucson is a 5-hour drive using a shortcut through Hatch.
Arts & Culture
Home to many artists, this quaint town has many art galleries, thrift shops, resale-retail shops, three used book stores, and a unique museum. The town is known for having tai chi, yoga, a 'by donation' chiropractor, and massage. Horseback riding, fishing, and rock climbing guides are available.
Cultural life in Truth or Consequences is eclectic, ranging from flying fingers at the New Mexico Old Time Fiddlers Contest to the solemnity of The Geronimo Springs Museum. The museum honors the Native American chief and showcases pottery, mining and Apache artifacts, as well as fine southwestern art. The museum also hosts Geronimo Days each October, featuring traditional music, dancing, storytelling and crafts.