The Chinati Hot Springs, Texas

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

This rider was looking for a couple of his horses when we stopped at the "Contrabando" movie set on River Rd on our way to the Chinati Hot Springs. This was the first time that I have seen the gate open and actually made a U turn to check it out. Right on the Rio Grande, in the Colorado Canyon, this is where "Dead Man’s Walk" <1995>, "Street of Laredo" <1995> and "The Journeyman" <1999> were partly filmed. I thought it would make for some interesting pictures and get a bit of the feel of what actors might go through when walking around the old buildings.

So that was a joke maybe… It was great fun walking down main street feeling the cameras running and blinded by the lights, that was the sun that day, maybe drawing a pistol for a high noon gunfight… all illusions, just like the buildings with fake walls and floors! Well done however as I am sure that the pictures will fool you too as I was, even being there… not until I went inside them did I realize that they were props. So we survived the visit… and this is what the actors most likely saw on those days…

Back on the road, we still had a bit under 100 miles to go, as usual, perfect weather, even a bit warm enough to open the vents of my jacket. River Rd, as many times as we can ride it is always a pleasure in itself. There will always be something I had not seen the time before. We took it a bit slower this time, let my arms rest a bit on those twisted roads and take it all in. We were going to the Hot Springs after all to spend the night, a little Journey in itself.

A quick stop in Presidio to top the tank, grab a bite to eat and on again riding the final stretch to Ruidosa which would take us up to the Hot Springs.

Pretty much a straight road with more dips than I have ever seen and felt! Even Spirit was looking to my side a bit more than usual as I was speeding up when I saw them in succession… no fear about being airborne! All together 1200lbs of machine and us driven by a 1100cc engine… it was not going to happen! I have to say it right now… as a warning for what is to come, that this trip was the most unorganized one ever taken. I wanted to go "minimal" and minimal it was… and stayed that way. I, for some reason was counting on the little store called "La Junta General Store" in Ruidosa to have a couple things available… items we could use that night. It would have been too easy to stop at the Terlingua Store!

Well… I don’t know if you can see the sign, but it says "closed" and closed was not good! So we walked around a bit, the old Church made of adobe already had a Christmas bow on its outside wall…


We waited… and waited… a few miles west the road is a dead end, there was no traffic… there was no one passing by. No matter, we went on, dirt road all the way and not knowing that there was a bit of a shortcut if we had stayed on the black top, we took the longer way. Great ride! We had ridden part of it going the other way when coming down from Pinto Canyon. Desolate… empty spaces peacefully filled with silence… inhabited thousands of square miles…

We could have gone on for ever, fairly easy roads, not designed for street motorcycles or low clearance vehicles… but suddenly we saw the sign to its entrance and those old bones I think started screaming for a rest in some of the medicinal waters we were about to experience.


My mind honestly, even though we are back… is still there. Ironic, the perfect "Oasis for my Soul", suddenly in the middle of nowhere, wondering how one even has found those Hot Springs, which flows feeding the common water bath and the ones in the couple cabins that have the good fortune to have a private one, at a rate of 10 gallons a minute! It took us no time to feel at home… and be directed toward the tent camp area secluded from the rest. Make yourself comfortable… the cabins were all booked up, and the few visitors must have as we were, been to themselves. Probably escaping the urban jungle for a few days.

This is the part I really don’t want to write… For one we show up without any food to speak off… even the two rations that I always carry had been removed, I think when I cleaned up the trunk of the sidecar, and all I can say is… when you take a tent… always make sure the poles are with you! I think the image was now clear. So… not to let anything ruin our time we arranged to have access to the water bath and think…


This was the cool bath, about 95 degrees, I cannot handle 105 degree water for too long, this was perfect. It was so perfect that being transported into what I call "la-la land" is putting it mildly. There was no thinking, there was just a blank stare with closed eyes into the moment. That is all!

It is advertised as quiet, peaceful and "restorative"… I felt restored! Truly… In and out a couple times to cool off, they will even furnish towels, the clear water filled with minerals had an incredible result. Camping is the best deal at $15 a night including the use of the water baths and… the great communal kitchen they have, fully equipped as I did check it out, almost feeling bummed for not having brought what we needed to cook! What was I thinking? Maybe thinking too much about a Thanksgiving dinner that I put myself in charge for tomorrow?… 80 miles from camp, almost in Alpine, knowing that the bad weather was on its way! The cabins, which also can use the kitchen range from $75 to $115, the higher priced ones with their own private water baths. I still like regardless an outdoor one… and a tent.

The communal kitchen… not bad?… and below, the inside,

We stayed late, very late, the water bath lit by candles, no one around, slowly feeling as one could never be more relaxed than now. Stay and bundle up in a tent with no poles only to wake up early and ride again to see if the store was open… or just bite the bullet with a promise to myself that we would come back for more than one night this time, much food… and will spend one whole day soon to reorganize my camping gear. Almost a full moon… feeling energized… seven headlights… with the love of riding at night… you guessed it… we headed back to Terlingua.

And it was to this day the best night ride I had ever taken! We pulled in around 1am… no soul was up on these roads… again… maintenance of one’s vehicle is of outmost importance! I am so much now looking forward to going back… we slept just about all day today… run errands… found out that Terlingua’s Cultural Center was having their Thanksgiving dinner tonight. So I have already had mine… all home made including roasted ham, wild rice, sweet potatoes… desserts… I seem to be at the right time at the right place somehow! The moral of the story?… always check your tent poles!!!

You be well… as always… and a very Happy Thanksgiving to you all…

We are under deep appreciation toward the readers that have send in a contribution helping this website’s expenditures. For those who have not, continue enjoying the site, pictures, recipes, and if you feel it’s worth $1 a month, the contribution button is above, snail mail is below…

Ara Gureghian   853 Vanderbilt Beach Rd #245   Naples, Fl 34108

Ara & Spirit

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5 Responses to “The Chinati Hot Springs, Texas”

  1. Sarine Gureghian Says:

    happy thanksgiving ara

  2. Lisa Says:

    I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, I so enjoy reading your blog…my husband and I are converting my element so that we can take a couple months with our dogs to see america and I must say, you are the inspiration for that dream to become a reality…I must go camping at the hot springs! Thanks for the pictures!

  3. Dee Says:

    Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving recuperation! Wow what a meal! You prepared a beautiful meal. Spirit looks so comfy in the rug and near the fire. And the pictures of the landscape! They are sooo beautiful. Makes me lonesome for West Texas and New Mexico. I can’t wait to go back and take pictures with my new camera. The hot springs sound like a nice relaxing time for you to wind down and really take in.
    We had a nice time camping but nothing like your experience. It was just nice to get away from the usual. The internet didn’t work. Was wondering how and when you get to use the internet? I assume you are not carrying a laptop or its at a base.
    I have still yet to read more of your blog. I am so busy its hard to finish anything lately. I come here to relax and destress in the very late night & need to find a little time to go back and read your earlier blogs until I can catch up.
    Is the alternate road to the springs suitable for auto travel? You and Spirit stay warm! I see it snowed out west. Will be looking for more entries.

  4. Kathleen Griffith Says:

    Hey there! Your did a great job with your photos and verbal description of the Chinati area and Hot Springs. We have a place about a mile before the springs and go very often. Also thank you for taking a picture of the mosaic sign that I made for our friend Wendy who managed the Springs in 2002.
    Hope you go again soon!

    Kathleen Griffith

  5. Lisa Levy Says:

    I just found your website…we’re going to Chinati for 2nd time next week, to celebrate my 50th birthday…thinking of brining my dirtbike (we live in Taos, NM) and your photos are inspiring me…are the roads good for riding?
    have you been back since 2007?
    take care

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