Hot Springs with History

This past weekend we bumped and rolled the 6 miles down Tune Rd. in Taos to hike in to Manby Hot Springs. The route takes you past a smattering of earthships, geodesic domes and adobe homes set into an incredible mountain backdrop before a final turn dead ends at a parking lot.

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From there an unmarked, but easy to spot trail winds down a half mile of rugged, old stagecoach road leading you to three pools and the ruins of a bathhouse (or, more bluntly, a brothel, according to another hiker we met on our way). 

The springs have been used by locals for hundreds, if not thousands of years. First by the Pueblo people and later by Taos’s first tourists who came by train. Then in the late 1800s they were claimed by a British traveler, Arthur Manby, who had schemes of building a resort on the Rio Grande centered around the soaking pools. 

The hotel was never built — Manby, who had acquired the 66,000 acres of land around the springs through some shady dealings was beheaded in 1929 (apparently he wasn't a very popular guy). But the springs still bear his name, and his ghost according to some. 

We didn’t witness anything supernatural on our trip, but we did enjoy the hike, learning a little local history and a foot soak. 

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Hike Details

Getting there: From Taos take Route 64 West, turn right on Tune Rd. and drive about 6 miles to the Manby Hot Springs Trailhead. The road is bumpy, but passable until the last section, and there’s a turnout just before the parking lot if you don’t have 4WD for it.

Distance: About 1 mile, round trip

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. It’s a short hike, but there are a couple steeper, slippery spots and exposed drop offs. Fine for most, but I wouldn’t take young kids on this one. 

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Celena Carr