Escape to Nature
Hot Springs • Bath Houses • Hiking • Camping
Regarded by many as the state's most beautiful automobile route, the Jemez Mountain Trail connects Española with NM 44 at San Ysidro.
1. SANTA CLARA. Santa Clara Pueblo is best known for its highly polished black pottery. Pueblo artists also produce fine beadwork, embroidery, painting and sculpture in both traditional and contemporary styles. The Pueblo Tourism Office can guide you to the shops and homes of the many artists and craftsmen who live and work on the Pueblo. Check with the Tourism Office (505) 753-7326 to see if the Puye Cliff Ruins, a National Historic Landmark, is open. Guided tours and traditional meals are available with advanced reservations. Call (505) 753-9663 or (888) 430-6222.
2. LOS ALAMOS. Drive west on NM 502 to Los Alamos. This lovely mountain town began as 'the secret city' and is remembered as the birthplace of the atomic bomb. The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is located here. The growth of LANL into a world renowned institution is reflected in its continued ability to respond effectively to changing national requirements and priorities. Today the Laboratory is one of the world’s largest scientific research centers. Currently operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy, the Laboratory employs nearly 10,000 people. There are several excellent museums, including the Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos Historical Museum. Another interesting landmark is Fuller Lodge, a John Gaw Meem masterpiece that once housed dorms and dining rooms for the Los Alamos Ranch School. For information call Los Alamos County Chamber of Commerce at (800) 444-0707. Point of interest. As you exit Los Alamos on NM 501, look for signs to Bandelier National Monument. Containing numerous hiking trails, spectacular ruins and cliff dwellings, it’s well worth a return visit.
3. JEMEZ MOUNTAIN TRAIL is also known as NM 4. The first natural wonder on your trip west is Valle Grande, an enormous volcanic caldera to your right. Point of interest. You may wish to take a detour to view Fenton Lake State Park; turn right at NM 126. Fenton Lake is a popular fishing & boating lake (no motorboats).
4. SODA DAM. The Jemez Mountain Trail offers many bathing areas and hot springs. Just before you reach the town of Jemez Springs, look for an outstanding geological formation on your left; this is Battleship Rock. Watch for Soda Dam, also on your left. Soda Dam is a natural formation that's a popular hiking spot during the summer. Point of interest. Jemez State Monument preserves the walls of the Church of San Jose built in the early 1600’s. A small museum offers intriguing facts and background information.
5. JEMEZ SPRINGS. Named an All-America city in 1995, this classic small town offers plenty of natural beauty. Numerous galleries line the main road through town. The famous Jemez Springs Bath House offers bathing in naturally heated waters.
6. JEMEZ RIVER. Leaving Jemez Springs, the road parallels the Jemez River. There are pullouts and camping grounds, all well-marked and well-maintained. Lots of great fishing here!
7. JEMEZ PUEBLO. The next natural wonder is the Jemez Red Rocks, on your left. Stop at the Walatowa Visitors Center. It features Jemez arts and crafts, a nature walk and a replica field house. The Pueblo has a closed village policy due to its fragile infra-structure and only welcomes the public on traditional Feast Days, Aug. 2 and Nov. 12. For information call (505) 834-7235. After leaving the Pueblo, NM 4 winds through a lovely river plain to the old Hispanic village of San Ysidro. You may pick up NM 44 to Bernalillo here, or simply retrace your steps back to Los Alamos and Española and include Bandelier on your return.