Santa Fe Day Trip to the Jemez Mountain Trail
Jemez Mountain Trail Directions – Follow US 84/285 north toward Pojoaque, then NM 502 west toward Los Alamos. NOTE: You will be going through several Northern New Mexico pueblo lands. First of which is the Tesuque Pueblo, next is the Pojoaque pueblo. When turning onto NM 502, you’ll pass the Santa Clara pueblo (home to Puye Cliff Dwellings). San Ildefonso pueblo is off to your left on 502 as you pass by the exit to Bandelier National Monument. NOTE: San Ildefonso Pueblo is the home of Maria Martinez – famous black on black pottress. Reserve a day tour to Bandelier National Monument for another day (but we highly recommend this fabulous place) when visiting Santa Fe as we prefer packaging Bandelier and San Ildefonso together on their own trip. You have so much to explore if following our suggestions through the Jemez mountain tour!
Continue on 502 into Los Alamos – we suggest a stop at Fuller Lodge Art Center and the Bradbury Science Museum. Both are close to each other and provide interesting facts and background information on World War II’s Manhattan project as well as highlights of Los Alamos National Labs research.
Get back into the car and head to NM 4 toward the Valles Calderas. It’s estimated that 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. This now nature preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history. Exit off to the right for a quick stop at the ranger station which offers restrooms and interesting information and books for purchase. What might you see at Valles
Caldera, you might ask? Well, the second largest elk population in New Mexico is home to this preserve. Other native residents include Gunnison prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, black bears, Eastern mountain bluebirds, and golden eagles! Who knows what you’ll get an eye of on this once in a lifetime trip through the Jemez Mountain Trail!
Habitat preferences and seasonal cycles of movement determine, in a general sense, where a particular animal may be at a particular time. Early morning and evening hours are when animals tend to be feeding and thus are more easily seen. But remember that the numbers and variety of animals you see are largely a matter of luck and coincidence.
Continue on through some of the most vibrant and colorful mountain landscapes you’ll ever see in New Mexico until you arrive at the town of Jemez Springs. Here you can soak your cares away in a public tub at the bathhouse built during the Victorian era. It’s a funky little village full of nice folks providing a perfect stopping spot to stretch your legs, take a photo and grab a quick refreshment. As you continue NM 4 you will find the Jemez State Monument – now this is the place to stop! A site of covered in magnificent ancient Indian ruins with the Jemez Pueblo’s Walatowa Visitor Center telling the story of the site and it’s ancestors, their way of life, struggles and tenacity. Bring your camera as you’ll see an authentic Indian Horno, the historic Jemez church ruins boasting massively thick adobe wand river rock walls (5 ft thick), a real kiva (ceremonial underground gathering area) which you can actually climb down into! It’s deep and gives you a thrill! No photography inside Kiva. This is something special as outsiders are not allowed into a kiva on any inhabited Native American Pueblo that we’re aware of.
So after exploring the Jemez State Monument, you might think that’s it! No way….. we still have the Gilman Tunnels! Exit 485 toward the Gilman Tunnels. You’ll wind around a paved road through incredible natural scenery, a canyon with vivid earth tone colors, sharp rock formations, which follows the Jemez River through this canyon to the tunnels! Gilman Tunnels were made for logging trucks to get loads down the mountains into nearby villages, towns, etc. Enjoy the views as you drive and keep watch as you won’t want to miss a rock climber traversing the side of a cliff or mountain biker challenging themselves up this steep road into one of the most truly lovely areas of Northern New Mexico! It’s definitely something you don’t want to miss and should be planned to be seen during daylight hours. It’s one of our “favs” of all time while touring the Jemez Mountain trail from Santa Fe.
Take plenty of photos! When finished, climb back into the car and backtrack toward NM 4 (the way you came). Continue the same direction on NM 4 to NM 44 and drive south toward Bernalillo. From Bernalillo head to I-25 S toward Santa Fe. Timewise you have about 45 minutes to get back into Santa Fe, then about 10 minutes after exiting onto Old Pecos Trail to return home to Pueblo Bonito b&b inn! It’s been quite a trip- one you’ll be glad you made and will remember forever fondly. We highly recommended this Jemez Mountain day trip for return visitors- folks who’ve already explored the unique and historic culture that Santa Fe offers. This is perfect for Santa Fe return travelers who desire to do something completely different than they’ve done on previous Santa Fe travel visits. We hope you’ve enjoyed this day-long tour as you should note- it’s best to get an early start! We hope you’d plan on joining us for breakfast at 8:00 am the day of this planned day trip and
enjoy a hearty breakfast of red chile pork tamales and green chile chicken stew! Two popular favorites of the guests of Pueblo Bonito b&b inn- Santa Fe. Breakfast begins at 8:00 am sharp served with warm authentic New Mexico hospitality at Pueblo Bonito b&b inn – just the way you want to begin this exciting and memorable Jemez Mountain day tour from Santa Fe New Mexico. If you’re a reading this blog and making plans for Santa Fe travel, we invite you to give our 156 yr old historic adobe pueblo bed and breakfast a try! Pueblo Bonito bed and breakfast has served thousands of Santa Fe travelers for over 32 years and has a great track record for returning guests. In fact, our inn was voted “Guest Favorite” out of 2800 properties by over 18,000 visitors from the US and Canada! Authentic historic Santa Fe lodging with a sincere welcoming atmosphere, reflective of our unique cultures, traditions and history of the old southwest. 1-800-461-4599. We hope you enjoyed this blog and hope to see you soon!