Less than a two-hour drive from El Paso, Truth or Consequences — also known as "T or C" — is set to be the epicenter of extraterrestrial tourism thanks to Spaceport America, which plans to launch the first commercial spaceflights in 2019.
The Land of Enchantment's ties to space aren't a just thing of the past. Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built spaceport, sits in the desert outside Truth or Consequences. Virgin Galactic anchors its space operations there as the company chases the world's first commercial space flight. The launch date for that flight is a moving target, but tours of the Spaceport America hangar are available year-round on weekends.
T or C, as locals know it, was formerly named Hot Springs, and the town is still known for the mineral springs that burble to the surface there. Travelers dip into the pools via the town's laidback bathhouses and hotels, many of which have colorful paint jobs or quirky, retro themes. T or C's downhome vibe runs counter to the identity of its most famous visitor and local entrepreneur: Ted Turner. The media magnate owns Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa and Ted Turner Expeditions, which operates eco tours to Turner's private, hundreds-of-thousands-acre ranches outside town.
For DIY outdoor fun, visitors flock to Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico's largest lake, which stretches through the desert five miles north of town. It's one of New Mexico's most popular recreation sites offering swimming, camping, and fishing along the sandy shores. Kayaks, paddle boards, and jet skis are all available for rent.
Hot Springs Bathhouse and Commercial Historic District
Truth or Consequences may be an off-the-radar retreat for many travelers, but its budget-friendly prices and easy-going atmosphere make it a must. Formerly called Hot Springs, the town still lives up to its geothermal hype via this downtown district, which includes 11 bathhouses, each with access to the soothing waters. Artist galleries and studios have also surfaced in downtown; check out the monthly Second Saturday Art Hop, when the streets overflow with art, music, and food.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Five miles north of town, New Mexico's largest lake gives boaters plenty of space to hit the throttle past the elephant-shaped rise that gives the lake its name. Swimming, camping, and fishing are popular pastimes along the sandy shores. Didn't pack your kayak? Rent one, along with paddleboards and jet skis, from the marina.
Virgin Galactic's long-awaited commercial spaceflights are slated to begin here in mid-2019. Until then, visitors can tour the facility and experience the sensation of spaceflight in the G-Shock simulator.
T or C Fiesta When radio and television host Ralph Edwards, who famously emceed a show called Truth or Consequences, sought a town that would change its name, Hot Springs, New Mexico, was game. The moniker change became official on March 31, 1950. The newly inked Truth or Consequences celebrated with an annual festival, and for decades, Edwards traveled there to host it. Though he passed away in 2005, the tradition continues the first weekend in May.