Jemez Mountain Trail

The Jemez Mountain Trail is one of six scenic routes in New Mexico designated as a National Scenic Byway, an honor given to only 55 routes in the nation.

It begins in the Village of San Ysidro, the only surviving settlement of the original seven”Pueblos de los Jemez” formed under the Spanish crown. Hwy 4 follows the course of the Jemez River to the towering mesas of the Cañon de San Diego and Jemez Pueblo. Continue north to the spectacular crimson-colored formations known as Red Rocks.

Farther north along Hwy 4, two side roads provide notable diversions: State Route 290 leads to the ranching and winemaking community of Ponderosa. Further north, Forest Road 485 features the Gilman Tunnels, which were blasted out of rock in the 1920′s to allow logging train access along the rushing Guadalupe River gorge.

Return to Hwy 4 and continue on to quaint Village of Jemez Springs, nestled amid high, volcanically layered mesa walls and dotted with restaurants, galleries, a natural springs bath house and several bed and breakfast inns. Horseback tours, cross country skiing and snowshoeing trips are available.

Continue on to historic Jemez State Monument and enjoy educational exhibits and expansive picnic areas. Further along Hwy 4 is Soda Dam where a buildup of mineral deposits has formed a unique and spectacular natural dam that blocks the Jemez River.

Here, where the trail continues in both directions.

To the east lies Valles Caldera National Preserve, one of the largest volcanic calderas in the world. Continue on to the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument and end your day’s journey in the city of Los Alamos, the birthplace of the nuclear age.

West of the La Cueva intersection is Fenton Lake State Park. From April until the first snowfall, enjoy this scenic drive to the town of Cuba, a gateway to the beautiful Santa Fe National Forest.

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