Riverbend Hot Springs – The Rio Bath
The early afternoon temperature on Saturday is in the 80s. I check Riverbend Hot Springs‘ availability and see that Rio, the bath with a little “infinity” edge that pours over directly into the river, is available at 3. Needing to get a plan in place, I snap it up by booking online.
I text a friend who works at Riverbend to get her input. You may be wondering what I did, in hindsight: why didn’t I text her before I reserved? She confirms that I’ve just reserved the hottest bath on the property on a hot afternoon. Guess I’ll investigate THE QUESTION again!
Riverbend began as a youth hostel, but in its 20+ year history, has morphed into a trendy spa and resort; today it’s the only place in town with communal tubs, meaning, you can soak next to lodgers and locals, tourists and world-travelers alike. It’s a unique experience, closer to what you’d find in hot spring towns elsewhere in the world; settling into hot spring water next to a friend you haven’t met yet.
The public pool area, as they call it, hasn’t changed all that much from the hostel days; it has 3 pool structures, one of which is split into 3 sections, so (adding in the 2 pools closer to the river) there are 5 different temperatures to choose from, ranging from 101 to 108 degrees. There are oodles of places to sit and cool off between dips, several strategically placed mist fans, and even a sauna for folks who want to get extreme.
(There’s a newly added shade structure at Riverbend, built by the fine folks at Dillwood Construction – a fact I mostly mention because they have a beautiful new website and – well, maybe I built it.)
I check in at the lobby just before 3, and am led to the Rio (private) Bath, where I lock myself in. I’ve got benches, hooks, a clock, and a gorgeous rock bath all to myself. I look around and deem the space truly private, then step out of my old lady bathing suit, at which point a canoer cruises into view, paddling down-river. It helps that she’s female, but I’m noooo exhibitionist.
So, first instinct: Hide! SUBMERGE! (Hot hot water!) Second instinct: Act casual! “Just bathing here naked, ma’am, la la la, shooting a few pictures.“ Third instinct – “point the video camera at the canoe and capture the dream shot!”
My videoing instincts could definitely use some honing. I got her as she sailed out of sight.
(People might want to think twice before endorsing me for “Video” on LinkedIn.)
It really does feel too hot to soak. And – did I already say the water is HOT? But I stay submerged to the shoulders for a while, and surprisingly, enjoy! After 15 minutes or so, I reposition, dangling my feet in the water, taking in the scenery, cooling off in the breeze, and getting more photos. The view is lovely and I am relaxed.
While the other private pools, Cielo and Tierra, have water features that mask noise from outside their enclosures, Rio is relatively quiet — the water flows silently into and then out of the pool. I can hear a group of people conversing in the bath next to mine, and as I exit the bath, their poodle shimmies under the gate and loudly escorts me out, trailing its leash. Some of those relaxation vibes go poof, but – you’ve gotta love a pet-friendly spa!
My Riverbend staffer friend says that the “Mother Founder” (owner) of the place swears that soaking in hot water does cool a person off. Mother Founder evidently likes to say “We don’t get in the water to get warm, we get in the water to get cool.”
What this means for winter soaking, I’m not sure, but that’s a question for another time.
~~ We interrupt this message for a reality check on Ruanna, provided by Robyn J. Harrison, who helped turn this messy journal into orderly blog posts. ~~
Riverbend Hot Springs – The Tierra Bath
Time to do a reality check on Ruanna. I, too, am skeptical of the “soaking in a hot spring in hot weather will make you feel cooler” idea. So I book myself a 3pm appointment in the Tierra pool at Riverbend. I have to be really serious about this because I don’t live in T or C. And as I’m making the hour drive there I find humor in the fact that I’m going to “find out the Truth or suffer the Consequences!”
When I arrive, I’m shown how to use the misters (the little nozzles that create a veil of cooling mist around the pool), reminded I have 50 minutes, and am told I can lock the door when the attendant leaves. Wow. I’ve just been given permission to shed my clothes–outside in broad daylight—and play in a pool of soothingly hot water THAT EVEN HAS A WATERFALL! The rock pool is surrounded on three sides by closely-woven bamboo walls with a lattice-work ceiling for shade. It looks out over the Rio Grande which is flowing full, fast and green on this day, creating a delightfully cooling breeze.
I sit on the side with the water up to my knees. It actually feels pretty good, like bath water. Before I sink in completely I decide a photograph is in order so I stand and take a step forward to reach my camera on the opposite ledge. I step right off the bench I didn’t know I was standing on and stumble into water up to my waist, setting in motion a tidal wave headed straight for my camera. I, of course, lunge for the camera and bonk my shin on the bench.
(note from Ruanna to Robyn: “Ha ha ha, KLUTZ!”)
Fortunately the wall is just high enough to keep the wave from splashing over. Yikes! I shake my head, abandon the photo idea, and relax into hot water up to my neck. The musical sound of the waterfall prevents me from hearing any conversation or activity from the pool next door. I hope it spared them my expletives during the camera incident.
The sign suggests 15 minutes in, 5 minutes out to cool a bit, then back in for 15 more. I turn on the misters to experiment with the “veil of spray” but the breeze off the river is strong enough to blow the veil across the pool–I can only take advantage of the mist if I’m sitting up on the wall—so I get double cool.
I stay the whole 50 minutes, and even then am reluctant to leave. I hop out with a little time to spare so I can air dry and finish off the last of the liter of water I brought with me. My findings? It’s the TRUTH that a hot soak on a hot day will cool you off. The CONSEQUENCES are general rejuvenation and feeling soothed and serene: well worth the drive down.