Author Archive for Geronimo Trail

Holiday Events on the Geronimo Trail

Love to rejoice in the season? So do our Byway destinations! We celebrate with several events that take us back to a time when gifts were handmade and we spent our holidays with our friends in neighbors at small town festivities.

luminarias at Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Why buy gifts for your loved ones that are mass produced when you can give them unique, locally made hand-crafted clothing, artwork, jewelry and food items? Our Byway is lucky to be home to a wide range of artisans and their products are available at these events:

Elephant Butte Fine Arts & Crafts Show
November 30
Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort, 402 Butte Boulevard, Elephant Butte

This show features special variety of items for your holiday shopping. Many unique gifts including silver, jewelry, sculptures, fine art, candy, ceramics, pecans, mosaics, and much more. There will be raffle items from each vendor; proceeds go to the Sierra County Cancer Assistance Center.

Yuletide In Chloride
Saturday November 30 – Sunday December 8
10am-4pm daily
Monte Cristo Gift Shop & Gallery, Wall Street, Chloride

Enjoy the scenic drive to Chloride, the holiday charm of a ghost town, great deals on works by local artisans. The Monte Cristo Gift Shop & Gallery features the work of more than two dozen local artists, providing a great selection for everyone on your gifting list as well as for yourself. Choose from paintings, photography, quilts, uniquely embroidered or hand stamped clothing, jewelry, hand crafted cards and soaps and so much more! During Yuletide in Chloride most items will be on sale up to 50% off! As a way to say “Thank you”, purchases of $25 will receive a free gift. What a great way to start the holiday season!

Christmas in the Foothills
Saturday December 7
Hillsboro Community Center, 316 Elenore Street, Hillsboro

Hillsboro’s annual holiday festival features the famous $49.99 art sale, raffles, food and vendors selling handmade holiday wares.

Monticello Holiday Store
December 7 & 8, December 14 & 15
388 Calle del Norte, Monticello

You’ll find all sorts of wonderful handmade holiday gifts at the holiday store! Numerous local artisan crafters offer unique and beautiful gifts such as candy, baked goods, artwork, health and beauty products, hand forged knives, handmade wool clothing, jewelry, scarves, mittens, lavender and herbal products, natural salves and soaps, holiday decorations, organic foods and so much more… all in very limited supply! It is impossible to adequately describe the wonderful selection of gifts we have in store for you this year.

Old-Fashioned Christmas
Truth or Consequences
Friday, December 13
Downtown Truth or Consequences

The evening begins with the annual Christmas Tree lighting in Evelyn Renfro park, after which all can enjoy bonfires, carolers and other performers, and holiday refreshments in downtown T or C. A Live Nativity is at the Baptist Church; businesses are open for holiday shopping; and – ho ho ho – Santa Claus takes requests from the kiddies!

Elephant Butte Luminaria Beachwalk
Saturday, December 14
Elephant Butte Lake State Park, Highway 195, Elephant Butte

The Luminaria Walk, sponsored by Elephant Butte Lake State Park and Friends of Elephant Butte Lake, features 3000 thousand luminarias lining paths on the beach leading to community‐sponsored campsites with posole, chile, cocoa, cookies, s’mores, and more! Join the carolers, visit Santa or stop by the The Steel Soldiers’ campsite to make a donation to Make‐A‐Wish.

Dada: An Evening of Masquerade & Mayhem
Saturday, December 28
Truth or Consequences Civic Center, 400 W 4th Street, Truth or Consequences

Dress up for a spectacular night featuring live music, aerial, full stage show, DJ, and dancing.Patrons are invited to wear black-tie, formal attire, or masquerade ball fashion to the Civic Center, making you, the patron, an integral part of the show. Full bar serving your favorite beer, wine, and cocktails available for purchase

First Day Hike Over Elephant Butte Dam
Wednesday, January 1st
Elephant Butte Dam, Lakeshore Road, Elephant Butte

This is your chance to take a walk across the Dam! Elephant Butte Dam is normally closed to all traffic but for the past few years has been opened for special events including First Day Hikes.

The Hot Springs of Truth or Consequences

The Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway offers adventures of all kinds: from outdoor adventures in our forests and on our lakes, to exploring our ghost towns, to taking a break from our hectic lives and taking a long soak in one of the several hot springs of Truth or Consequences, the “biggest” small town on the Byway.

Formerly known as Hot Springs, the city of Truth or Consequences (the locals call it “T or C”) has long been a destination for wellness tourism, being touted as America’s Most Affordable Spa Town. The downtown area sits over a huge geothermal aquifer of 110-degree-Fahrenheit mineral water which comes to the surface at the river and through wells and pools. For centuries, people have visited these hot springs for their healing properties, “taking the waters” at the many bath houses in town. Today, the charmingly restored hotels, motor courts and spas reflect this history and offer travelers a wide range of accommodations that retain the flavor of this bygone era, along with healing treatments including massage, reflexology, mud wraps, reiki, and more. Visitors seeking in-room private baths will find several to choose from, and most of the baths are open to walk-ins who can pay to soak by the half hour or hour.

hot spring bath houses in Truth or Consequences

After you’ve done some soaking, explore the streets of downtown T or C where you will find that the city has undergone a renaissance, attracting new shops, restaurants, wineries and a brewery where live music is frequently performed. Art galleries line the downtown streets where the monthly Second Saturday Art Hop brings residents and visitors alike outdoors to soak in the laid back vibe of Truth or Consequences. A newly established walking path, the Healing Waters Trail, loops through downtown’s hot spring & commercial district, anchored by the Veterans Memorial Park on the western end and Ralph Edwards Park on the eastern end.

What’s with the name? The Spanish town of Ojo Caliente de Las Palomas (Hot Springs of the Doves) was renamed Palomas Hot Springs by the growing population of Anglos in the latter part of the 19th century; in 1916 the city was incorporated as Hot Springs, New Mexico. Then in 1950 this little town got its big name as part of a publicity scheme to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ralph Edwards’ hugely successful Truth or Consequences game show on NBC radio. Edwards suggested that there might be a town in the United States that “liked and respected” the show so much that it would change its name to Truth or Consequences. Hot Springs took the bait and in 1950 officially changed its name to Truth or Consequences.

Break for Spring!

Spring is in the air and it’s time to get outside!

If you, your family and friends are the adventurous types there is plenty of great camping along the Geronimo Trail Scenic Byway. Once the weather starts warming up and the fish start biting in our lakes and river, RV and tent camping spaces book up fast.

Our state park campgrounds are the most popular camping destinations, offering both developed RV sites and tent camping. You can book space at any of these state parks online.

Elephant Butte Lake State Park

The granddaddy of New Mexico State Parks, Elephant Butte Lake is the largest body of water in New Mexico. If you like camping, fishing, boating, or just being outdoors, there is plenty of water and plenty of beach room. Elephant Butte Lake can accommodate watercraft of many styles and sizes: kayaks, jet skis, pontoons, sailboats, ski boats, cruisers, and houseboats.

Caballo Lake State Park

The Caballo Mountains serve as a majestic backdrop for the lake and park. Guests can enjoy a full array of water recreation, winter/spring waterfowl watching, and cactus gardens in bloom.

Percha Dam State Park

This quiet park along the Rio Grande is shaded by tall cottonwoods and provides excellent fishing, relaxing camping, and outstanding bird watching.

There are also a multitude of private RV parks located along the Byway for visitors to enjoy. For more info, visit the RV Parks page on the Sierra County Tourism website.

If you want an experience that gets you out into less commonly tread ground, there are campgrounds in the Gila National Forest’s Black Range District. The Kingston Campground offers 2 tent camping sites with vault toilets and fire rings, and is right off of Hwy 152 near Kingston.

Lake Valley: South of Hillsboro

Lake Valley Back Country Byway sign

The Lake Valley Back Country Byway intersects with the Geronimo Trail National Scenic Byway in Hillsboro.

Sweet mountain scenery, wildflowers in bloom, winding two-lane roads, chaparral birds (roadrunners) on the run, hawks soaring overhead, historic Hillsboro, and the Lake Valley ghost town… This pretty much sums up what you’ll see while cruising along the satisfyingly empty stretch of two-lane paved road known as the Lake Valley Back Country Byway.

Scenic Lake Valley in Sierra County New Mexico

In case you somehow didn’t know this, driving for pleasure is fun. And according to the study that led to the formation of the BLM’s National Scenic Byway and National Back Country Byway programs, this popular American pastime ranks very high on the list of things we do to forget our troubles for a while and simply enjoy being alive in this country.

I am no exception to these findings, so what a lovely time I had hanging my head out the car window and letting my sun-bleached hair fly free in the warm spring breeze. Oh wait, that was Mojo.

doggie taking a road trip to Lake Valley

For anyone interested in making the trek, the Lake Valley Back Country Byway officially starts on route 152, headed west toward Hillsboro off of 181 South near Caballo Lake State Park, and then goes south along 27 toward Lake Valley and Nutt.

map of the Lake Valley Back Country Byway

As you drive down this nationally designated scenic byway, you’ll probably want to pull off to the side of the road for a moment or two to take a deep breath and perhaps snap a few photos of your surroundings. Creosote, juniper, ocotillo, and mesquite-covered hills as well as stunning views of the Caballo, Black Range, and Mimbres Mountains will guide your way to Lake Valley, a once booming turn of the century manganese mining town that is now almost entirely vacant.

I say “almost” because there is a couple currently making their home amongst the ruins. But their sole reason for being there is to keep Lake Valley’s remains open to the public for self-guided ghost town walking tours (current hours of operation are Thursday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, and it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there, depending on how fast you drive and how many stops you make).

Mojo in front of an old house in Lake Valley NM

When we made the turn off of route 27 and pulled through the entry gate, my initial impression was that there isn’t much to see in Lake Valley. And really, there isn’t. But if you stop at the Schoolhouse and grab a Self-Guided Walking Tour map (and detailed information guide) before wandering down Main Street, the well-marked yet dilapidated buildings and sites begin to come alive.

Settlers were scoring silver in Lake Valley beginning in 1878, and the Sierra Grande Mining Company, established by a fellow by the name of Whitaker Wright, was in control of the Lake Valley Mines. Apparently, with the discovery of one giant deposit of silver ore in 1882, dubbed the Bridal Chamber, Wright was able to convince several investors from back east to funnel money into the mines. One surprising little factoid is that Walt Whitman, the free-spirited poet who authored the beloved Leaves of Grass, bought 200 shares of the silver claim in Lake Valley.

After wandering around Lake Valley’s historic mining town remains, you may want to stop at the old cemetery on the other side of route 27—just past the ghost town entrance on top of a small hill.

While meandering through the somewhat overgrown rows of grave sites, I came across headstones dating back to the late-1800s. Many of the graves exist today as mere unmarked swells of earth surrounded by rocks.

I can’t explain the curious sense of peace I felt weaving in and out of the final resting places for these folks who dwelled in a very different reality than the one we’re currently experiencing. Horses and buggies, muddied streets, noisy trains rolling in and out of town, no Internet or cell phones or running water or electricity. Townspeople singing folk spirituals at the church, children playing together at the schoolhouse, miners with blackened faces gambling and drinking into the night…

It’s hard to say exactly what life looked or felt like back then, but my stroll through the cemetery was a solid reminder that in the end, we all end up in the dirt. Some of us will have fancy gravestones and poetic epitaphs; others will have nothing but a bunch of rocks to mark our meager mounds.

C’est la vie…

cool headstone at Lake Valley Cemetery


About Blogger / Correspondent Elise Curtin

Highway to Chloride

Our correspondent Elise will be out on the trail in coming weeks and months, and will share her experiences here.


Elise planted her roots in Sierra County’s quaint and quirky town of Truth or Consequences in the summer of 2015. Hot springs, blue skies, sunshine, and starry nights are what drew her to this particular southwestern corner of the country, as well as a growing desire to escape the industrialized machinery of fast-paced, ultra-expensive city life.

When not writing about her explorations and experiences, she enjoys soaking in the mineral-rich hot springs of T or C, hiking with her man and her two little dogs around town, and hopping in the car for exploratory adventures throughout New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, as well as singing, songwriting, playing guitar, yoga-ing, meditating, reading, baking gluten-free goods, planting seeds, and watching things grow in this high desert haven of a home.