Among the many natural resources the state has to offer, few are as conducive to well being as the hot springs. Soaking in hot, natural waters, is one of the primal pleasures of humanity – a pleasure shared by many cultures, and even other species, as seen in the Macaque monkeys of Japan.
Some of New Mexico’s most fabled hot springs are found in the Jemez mountains, the resort town of Ojo Caliente, the historic pools of Montezuma near Las Vegas, and the artesian springs of Truth or Consequences. A brief description of them should help the visitor decide which of these unique offerings might best fit their needs or itinerary.
Ojo Caliente is a true jewel of a town, located about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. Named by the early Spanish explorer Cabeza De Vaca, the earliest description dates to the 16th century.
“The greatest treasure I have I found these strange people to possess,” De Vaca wrote, “are hot springs which burst from out of the foot of the mountain…. so powerful are the chemicals contained in this water that the inhabitants believe they were given to them by the gods.”
Image of Round Barn from ojospa.com
Nestled in, and fully a part of the landscape, the hot springs of Ojo Caliente offer much to appeal to the visitor. The historical amenities offered by the resort include several buildings entered in the National Registry of Historic Places. These include the famous ‘Round Barn’ who’s unique architecture and design remain remarkably appealing to the visitor.
The hot waters of the town of Jemez Springs have tempted Santa Feans to make the trip for decades. Named for the nearbly Pueblo of Jemez, the small town offers numerous springs and bathhouses. The atmosphere of the Jemez Valley is a special and spiritual one, being home to both Catholic monasteries and Zen Buddhism centers.
Retreats and spas are found throughout the valley, including a village owned non-profit spa whose proceeds are invested within the community. The Jemez Bath House is over a hundred years old and remains a hub for community life.
Visitors can also find numerous free natural springs throughout the valley and are advised to check visitor reports for current conditions here.
Truth or Consequences has become synonymous for misguided civic boosterism. Originally named Hot Springs, after the myriad natural pools and springs, the city changed its name to that of a popular Radio show in 1950 as an effort to boost tourism. The town contains numerous resorts and baths, though there are significantly fewer than there used to be. Before World War 2, there were around 40 registered spas. Today there are ten, all featuring the minerally rich and complex waters of the region.
Many of these resorts can be found here, and a discerning traveler should be able to find “The cure for what ails them” through judicial booking and soaking.
Image from ojospa.com
As you can see, New Mexico has many geothermal amenities for the visitor. Assistance with booking or visiting any of these locations can be obtained through the Inn on the Alameda. We can’t wait to hear about your epic NM hot spring soaks!
THE CONFEDERATE FLAG FLIES OVER SANTA FE
Canby (Left); Sibley (Right) – sourced from The Library of Congress
Sibley reached Santa Fe on March 13, 1862 (having set out from Texas on February 23, but not before the Union had destroyed the town’s supplies). The Confederate’s New Mexico campaign that was meant to rely on speed and captured provisions was finding itself bogged down and low on supplies.
Sibley and his forces were now caught between Canby in the south and fresh Union reinforcements to the north.
Taking the offensive, Sibley went out from Santa Fe to attack the Union forces in a fierce battle. Unfortunately for Old Dixie, the Confederates had left behind their remaining military provisions for safekeeping.
Alvin Jewett Johnson’s map of Texas and a portion of NM at the height of the Civil War
Following a small skirmish on March 26, both sides waited for reinforcements to arrive and they joined in battle once again on the 28th. Fierce fighting and aggressive maneuvering led the Confederate forces to advance further than expected. The Confederates took the Union positions in heavy fighting. Thankfully for the Yankees, a New Mexican scout by the name of Anastasio Duran led a small force of scouts behind Confederate lines. While the larger battle was taking place, Duran discovered the Confederate supply train. Returning to the Union lines with the news, US troops led by Duran, attacked the Rebel supply train.
It was this attack that turned the tide of battle.
The supplies were captured with little resistance. Eighty wagons, loaded with provisions and ammunition with which the Rebels still intended to fuel their campaign, were looted then sent ablaze. The auxiliary artillery was spiked and over 500 of the Confederate horses and mules were either killed or driven off. Alerted by the smoke of the burning wagon train, the Confederates were forced to return to Santa Fe. The loss of these supplies and material would prove devastating to the Confederates. Sibley pulled the remaining troops back to Albuquerque, in the hopes of reinforcements arriving from Texas.
Image of Glorieta Pass taken in 1990 by a National Park Service employee
By mid-April the Union forces had begun to converge and Sibley decided to retreat.
Confederate control of the northern part of New Mexico had lasted a mere two months. Union soldiers were dispatched throughout the New Mexico territory and the New Mexico Campaign and the Confederate attempt on the West came to an end. A simple accounting of the Battle of Glorieta Pass belies its importance in the American Civil War. By closing the door to the West and halting the Confederate advance, The United States was able to concentrate on the war in the South and East, while the rich resources of the Western Territories helped bankroll the delayed, yet successful victory 3 years later.
Many civil war elements remain in Santa Fe today. The New Mexico History Museum is a few minutes’ walk from the Inn and provides many resources to assist in understanding the campaign. Glorieta Pass is only 40 minutes from the Inn along a scenic drive, and the battlefield includes an interpretative center as well as a bounty of historical information.