Here at Chinati Hot Springs, with my toes splayed out at the end of the longest, deepest private bathtub I’ve ever eased into, the buzz of the city feels a million miles away.
The warm water filling the homemade, cement-walled basin makes me feel so mellow, in fact, that even the mustard-colored walls of the El Presidente suite where I’m soaking don’t bother me. It’s bliss.
Fair warning: Don’t make the trek to West Texas expecting to find the Four Seasons. The 640-acre resort is situated along a twisty creek in the bottom of a rocky canyon. Big cottonwood trees along the banks shade a little oasis held hostage by the prickly, lizard- and tarantula-populated Chihuahuan desert.
It’s beautiful, though, and these soothing waters lured humans to this hard-to-get-to corner of the Big Bend region for thousands of years before it opened as a resort. It’s easy to see why. It’s quiet in the desert, and no one just happens upon this place. You have to be purposely headed here.
Even that takes some effort. By car, you have two options — the gorgeous but mostly unpaved and rugged Pinto Canyon Road from Marfa, or the mostly paved road from Presidio. (We chose the rugged, two-hour route from Marfa and loved every moment. Just be sure you have a high-clearance vehicle and take your time.)
Pulling into the gravel parking lot is like discovering a cool glass of iced tea waiting for you after you’ve hiked 20 miles in the heat. A few big trees spread a leafy umbrella over the grounds, and the rugged Chinati Mountains set a dramatic backdrop.