March 12, 2013
Second of Four-Part Series – Hot Springs, that!
Coming from Rio Grande Village, I was all prepared to drive through the Hot Springs Road that is a 2-mile gravel road down a rough, narrow wash to the Hot Springs destination.
Ahh, my feet are so warm..I needed that. I slept with the hand warmers but they stayed with my feet all night long inside my socks in the back of the car, blanket covering my head. I stayed there soaking my feet in for maybe 20 or 25 minutes long ’til they were pruned. Remember its 105 degrees in the spring waters. Nice.
What is the big deal about Hot Springs?
Hot Springs has like a super-sized Jacuzzi but no it’s very natural. Hot spring water is considered old water, fossil water, ancient and irreplaceable and that’s more, it’s heated at 105° F. I heard that the water carries dissolved mineral salts reputed to have healing powers and the remedy of both body and soul. This is the only place in Big Bend – but there is also a trail called Hot Springs Canyon Trail. I was here in 2005, hiking on a nice pretty trail that shadows the Rio Grande to the historic village where there are several abandoned ruins along with the springs themselves. I know there are one or two more trails other than this one but we didn’t go. Again, this time, I didn’t go either. I didn’t have time for it.
The river over there is Rio Grande River. It is illegal to cross into or from Mexico from anywhere within Big Bend National Park. The penalties can be steep for doing so, including fees and jail time. Just for your info if you wonder.
However, the history here is talking about the development by J.O. Langford from 1909. Langford was a Mississippi native who had contracted malaria as a child. Searching for a cure, he heard of reputedly curative hot springs on the Rio Grande. Langford, his wife Bessie and his 18-month-old daughter set out for the site, discovering that it was already occupied by Cleofas Natividad with his wife and ten children. Initially considering the Natividads squatters, the Langfords developed a cooperative relationship with the Natividads. J.O. took a 21-day treatment of drinking and bathing in the spring waters, regaining his health. Before the Langford’s development, a small stone tub had been excavated in the local stone for bathing, with a dugout by the Langfords as a residence. The Langfords later built a house, a stone bathhouse, and brushwood bathing shelters. The Langfords left in 1912 when bandits made the area unsafe. When they returned in 1927 they rebuilt the bathhouse, but with a canvas roof. They also built a store and a motor court, consisting of seven attached cabins. They are now in the ruins.
Each way is about 1.5 miles long. Just be careful, the road on the drive in was a little scary. Expect to drive rough. It’s not a very wide road with one side being a cliff. If you have height fright phobia, just don’t look down. Focus on the rough gravel road. As you can see from my video, just be cautious and drive slow.
Off to Chisos Basin…….
Note: Motor homes and oversize vehicles are prohibited on the one-way sections of the Hot Springs road.