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Travelers from Albuquerque should take route 550 off Exit 242 of Interstate 25 and then follow Route 4 through Jemez Springs. It is a much longer route to travel, but a stop at Jemez Hot Springs for lunch and the topography along the entire route make the detour worthwhile. Beginning with the basic scrub of the lowlands, a traveler will get to observe breathtaking mesas, followed by true pueblo life leading toward the red clay mesas just south of Jemez. Once in the Village of Jemez Springs, spend an hour or two at The Giggling Springs Hot Springs (on the left side of the road), across from The Laughing Lizard Cafe. A wonderful outdoor natural hot mineral water pool--both therapeutic and enchanting, that's great for rejuvenation during your travels! The pool is located next to the Jemez River, which is a nice way to cool off in the summertime. While you are relaxing in the pool, you'll gaze at beautiful views, and you can have a delicious fruit smoothie delivered to you while you soak! Go to www.GigglingSprings.com for photos and info. For more information on what else to do in Jemez Springs, go to www.JemezSprings.org Northward, the traveler will observe Valle Grande en route to the Monument.
Be sure to follow the Nature trail from the visitor center and take the time to celebrate the calm while learning of New Mexico's unique botanical pleasures. At the end of the trail, the traveler can ascend the native ladders (don't worry, they are bolted and safe) to experience what life was like for the pueblo indians. Leading back toward the center are additional structures to explore, which is particularly fun for kids.
Passes can be acquired for camping and backcountry hiking -- a truly blissful experience for those into that sort of thing. This experience is only available by PERMIT! A truly wonderful experience for locals and tourists alike.
A Few Other Day Trips
1) Drive Part of Old Route 66
2) Visit Taos Pueblo. " Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The multi-storied adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over 1000 years." http://www.taospueblo.com/
3) Go to Santa Fe.
4) If you enjoy bird watching, head south to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
The refuge is the home for many different kinds of birds. Interestingly, many of the birds that you see up north in the spring and summer spend their winter's in New Mexico so the late fall and winter are great times to go. If you are a bird watcher, this is a fun place to visit. Bring your binoculars and/or a camera. http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/...
5) Go white water rafting!
White Water Rafting the Rio Chama and Rio Grande
New Mexico, just like the rest of the western United States has endured one of the hottest summers on records! Rather than succumbing to the heat, why not cool off with one of New Mexico’s favorite pastimes: white water rafting! With two incredible rivers to choose from you are sure to leave the summer heat behind and enjoy memories that will last forever!
Nestled amongst the San Juan Mountains and the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado, The Rio Chama rafting tour offers a picturesque river ride. The Rio Chama flows for 130 miles! The Rio Chama is a major tributary river of the Rio Grande and the name “Chama” means “wrestling pueblo-ruin.” The Rio Chama dates back to 10,000 years ago when camels and wooly mammoths roamed the southwestern plains. Today is it used for white water rafting fun!
The Rio Chama and its tributaries also feature excellent fly fishing with the main fish being trout. Tourists can also visit the Chama Canyon which features a variety of geographical wonders including high, steep canyon walls and escarpments composed of rocks slides, ledges, pinnacles, and ridges. The bedrock was formed 110 million years ago and features various rocks including shale, basalt, tuft, sandstone, granite, quartzite, and others.
The Rio Grande is 1,885 miles long and the fourth longest river in the United States. The river flows out of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and flows 1,900 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of other activities in and along the river including biking, boating, camping, fishing, hiking/backpacking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, horseback riding and, of course, white water rafting in New Mexico.