Soaking and Sunning at Faywood Hot Springs in New Mexico’s High Desert
John Steinbeck had Charlie. I have LouLou, a north Texas rescue that a vet in Weatherford, Texas, put down as a blue heeler. She’s been my traveling companion for the last 3+ years. She really likes going to nudist places, because a lot of them have doggie parks where she can be off the leash, run, and do other doggie things, and because I seem to relax better nude.
In 1979 or 1980 while backpacking in the Gila Wilderness of Southwestern New Mexico, a glorious 500,000 (yes, that’s half a million) acre wilderness, I was told about a wonderful hot spring between Deming and Silver City, New Mexico. It is a magic place, and I’ve been going there on a regular basis ever since.
From the local newspaper Deming Headlight: “Faywood has a history that goes back hundreds of years. The hot springs were first used by the native Mimbres people and later by the Apache. In the 1800s it was a stop on the trail for settlers heading west and for commercial stagecoaches. In 1870 a 50-room hotel was built there, and after that one burned down, a replacement was constructed in 1894. By the 1920s, a bottling plant had opened and the high-content mineral water – considered to be therapeutic – was sold around the world.” Also, in the 20’s the Chicago White Sox used the facility for Spring training.
When I first went there the land was owned by a mining company. There were four concrete or rock pools which had been constructed by kids with a Johnson era program called SWISH, Southwest Industries for the Severely Handicapped (I think). For 3 of the pools there were PVC pipes that came from the hot spring (around 130 degrees). People in the pool would reach consensus about whether the temperature was good, too cold, or too hot. If it needed change, someone went up the hill and turned a faucet up or down. The fourth pool was simpler; there was a small trench from the spring and we could adjust the temperature of that pool by moving a rock to direct more or less hot water into the pool.
The problem was that I never knew what to expect. Some years the place would be open with no obvious oversight from the mining company. Some years it would be closed with a sign saying there was no water in the pools. One year the company had a guy named Jay and his German Shepherd monitoring the place and charging $5 per car.
Then Elon and Wanda bought the place and closed it for about 6 years while they were making additional pools, fences to divide the Clothing Optional from Clothing Required areas. They added a water well for cool water with fewer minerals, a campground, hook-ups for trailers and some cabins. I didn’t think Elon ever charged enough. . .although I didn’t complain very energetically. The present owner Damon, as far as I can tell has kept the same price structure. Go to www.Faywood.com for more.
LouLou at the Faywood Desert Stonehenge
As soon as they reopened, I started going back. There is a lot more history, which I’ll include in my next article. One of the neat things Elon did was build a miniature Stonehenge on top of a hill along with a star gazing seat, that can accommodate four, tilts forward and backward, and rotates 360 degrees for stargazing (See photos). You go through two gates, if there’s no cattle there at the time, and walk uphill perhaps 200 yards. LouLou really like this area because if there’s no other dogs up there, I let her off her leash (probably against the rules) after the second gate, and she can run free. Occasionally in warmer weather there’s even a rabbit to chase.
The stargazing bench is amazing. On a clear, moonless night, it’s like the whole sky is filled with stars. Faywood is at about 5500 feet and there are almost no electric lights messing up your view of the night sky. If you have any kind of telescope, make room for it for your trip there. LouLou and I don’t have one, but if we did, we’d make room for it.
On my Thanksgiving week my friend “Cat” and I built 4 picnic tables for the clothing optional campground, which I helped create. We met (as always) a few interesting people. A couple from El Paso had brought their daughter there for her third birthday. Another family was celebrating a 4th birthday. There was a woman who told me that she had been a nudist before, but hadn’t participated for 36 years. She said her re-entry into social nudism felt a little awkward, but she said she was glad to be back into the family.
Faywood Hot Springs is between Deming and Silver City, New Mexico, about 25 miles north of I-25. Area attractions include several state parks, including City of Rocks which shares a fence line with Faywood. There is a trail between the two for great clothing optional hikes in the desert. However, I did put on my shorts and put Lou back on her leash when we came within sight of park’s visitor center.
Columbus, New Mexico is less than 60 miles away and is the site of the infamous Pancho Villa’s last raid into the U.S. and the place where General John “Black Jack” Pershing led an expeditionary force into Mexico to try to apprehend Villa. The results:
1) They never found Villa.
2) They pissed off all three Mexican factions trying to take control of Mexico!
3) It was good training for the U.S. Expeditionary Force General Pershing led into France in World War I.
Other attractions include the historic and scenic towns of Silver City and Pinos Altos, about 30 miles north. There are also a lot of great restaurants in those two towns. Cat and I ate again at the Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery in Silver and loved it. Great service, great food and libations and great prices. More about Faywood and surrounding area next time.