From somewhere deep beneath the bed of the Rio Grande, water wells up from geothermal hot spots and seeps into the river at a perfect 105 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect hot tub temperature. Long ago people discovered this natural treasure along the desert river and capitalized on it. In 1906, A man named O.J. Langford dug holes to pipe the water and built a pool within a bathouse right on the river bank. He also constructed a small resort with a hotel and shop. Travelers journeyed far into the desert by horse, wagon, and automobiles to enjoy this solitary and therapeutic experience. The resort operated for more than 50 years, but it eventually shut down and fell to disrepair. Since Big Bend became a national park, the structures have been preserved and the hot spring is open to the public.
Today all that remains of the bathouse is the foundation, but it forms a perfect soaking pool with a view over the river to Mexico. You can browse the grounds of the old resort and see the buildings that still stand. Almost no historical information is available on site, however, so you'll have to imagine what times were like during its heydey. In addition to these more recent remains, you can find traces of ancient inhabitants on the cliff walls near the river. Native Americans drew pictures on the rocks, though most have unfortunately worn off or been effaced by vandalism. Please do your part to observe but not harm the history still seen here.
Getting to the hot springs requires a 2-mile drive on a rough and narrow gravel road, which should not be traveled by oversized vehicles or at all if it is wet. From the parking area it is a hike of only about a quarter mile to reach the soaking pool, and you will pass the historic buildings and rock art along the way. This short stroll is part of a longer loop that gains better views over the river and leads back to the parking lot.
While enjoying the hot spring, please share the limited space and be courteous of others. Do not bathe in the spring or litter anywhere around it. Alcohol and glass containers are not allowed. Camping is not allowed at the hot spring or anywhere in the historic site area.