A Visit to Chinati Hot Springs by Kent Wilson

This place was well worth the drive and is great for anyone who wants to get far away to a developed but inexpensive and very non-commercial spring with rustic, comfortable accomodations. I was there on 11/13/99 and found this to be a great time of year down there.

The three whitewashed stone cabins built in the 1920's are clean and homey with 18" thick walls that keep out the heat during the day; rustic furnishings, mexican candles and indian plankets make them warm and cozy at night. For less money, there's a bunk house which also looks very comfortable and they allow camping on the grounds. Take plenty of food so you won't have to drive all the way back into town. They have a guest kitchen, an outdoor grill, and picnic tables. If there are other guests and you have enough food to share you may do a sort of "pot luck" dinner as we did while I was there, but this does not appear to be obligatory.

The spring water is piped into a small bath house with two rooms containing deep tile lined tubs. An outdoor communal tub is great for star gazing. The water flowing out of the spring is excellent for drinking too, and they don't mind if you fill your water jugs.

This place survives because some local people formed a nonprofit group and volunteer their time to run it. You should CALL AHEAD to let them know your coming (915-229-4165).

To get there you must drive 38 miles up river from Presidio, Texas on Farm Road 170 - every mile of which is filled with many swooping dips that send your car airborn if you drive more than 45 mph. After the tiny town of Ruidosa there's a right turn and seven more miles on gravel and dust to the hot spring - a tiny canyon oasis shaded by a few cottonwoods and palms. Fiercely textured mountains, pale and hazy, are on the horizon. They are monstrously huge with exposed horrizontal rock layers buckled and tilted - GREAT desert scenery that's part of the same geological drama you find in Big Bend National Park.

Ruidosa (Chinati) Hot Springs