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Hot springs make any day better

It doesn't matter if you're late. If you can soak in a natural hot spring, everything is great.

Black Rock hot springs, near Arroyo Hondo, N.M., are a lovely set of two pools nestled right up against the Rio Grande. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

ARROYO HONDO, N.M.--There are few things in life I enjoy more than soaking in a natural hot spring.

That's why, despite my being late getting started with my day and having hundreds of miles to drive to get to my next stop on Road Trip 2007, I couldn't resist stopping in at Black Rock hot springs near this tiny town.

These are two stone pools on the edge of the Rio Grande, and with amazing views of the Rio Grande Gorge. During my visit, in early August, the pool farther from the water was a perfect temperature: Hot, but not too hot, even on a sultry summer day. The pool closer to the river was colder, according to the visitors who tried it out.

Apparently, during winter and spring, this hot springs isn't really usable because the river is too high and overwhelms it with cold water, even washing it out completely. Then, when the river recedes, the locals come back and rebuild the pools. Thank you!

This is a popular spot. It's a bit of a trek, including many twists and turns on a narrow dirt road, and then a five minute walk down a rocky dirt path. But thanks to my hot springs bible, Marjorie Gersh-Young's Hot Springs and Hot Pools of the Southwest, I had little trouble locating it.

For me, finding local hot springs is a big part of every road trip adventure I take. And thankfully, the American West is brimming with them. Yay Earth!

From Black Rock hot springs, you get an amazing view of the Rio Grande Gorge. Daniel Terdiman/CNET