I practically had to drag my guys along this drive, but it turned out to be one of the best parts of our trip.
This beautiful drive way up in the Jemez Mountains is a sensory treat with gorgeous scenery and changing geological formations. Take your time along the way and stop wherever possible to soak in magical sites and the wonderful hikes. The viewpoint is very different from each direction highlighting new treasures to discover. If you tie it in with a side trip to Bandelier National Monument, plan on a very full day, or an overnight stay in Los Alamos.
The highlights include the sheer beauty of the climbing road highlighting the incredible rise from the canyon floor. Valles Caldera is breathtaking in size- what a fantastic insight into the almost unimaginable size of the super volcano that created the 1,000 foot thick volcanic formations far, far below. Jemez Falls is small but pretty, although the hike is steeper than proclaimed. There are several hot springs along the route, although McCauley Warm Springs is the only one marked on the highway. Battleship Rock is imposing, but best viewed from the south facing north. Soda Dam is just cool - a dam naturally formed by the minerals in the water that is still growing and can be easily explored. The well-preserved 1600s pueblo at Jemez Sate monument was closed on the day of our drive but is visible from the road.
I'm sure that there are many other great spots along the way, but the fading light turned us back towards the lights of the city. One last chance to marvel at the wonders of our beautiful planet.
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