Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Jemez Mountain National Scenic Byway

After a quick stop at a nearby Albertsons to pick up road lunch supplies, we were on our way north and then west of Santa Fe.  Our plan to visit Bandelier National Monument was somewhat complicated by the fact that the monument was closed to private cars.  The fires in the area had led to huge erosion problems when the rains came, and much of the parking area was washed out.  So we had to wait for shuttle service in White rock and then take the slow bus.  It added an hour to our itinerary, so we had to adjust later in the day.

But Bandelier was certainly worth the hassle. 

This valley, and many in the area, were heavily populated by the Ancestral Puebloans.  Their great house, great kiva, and cliff caves and dwellings line the walls of the volcanic tufa cliffs.

I loved this rock.  It is natural but looks so like a stone totem guarding the ancient dwellings.
There was some more scrambling to do, but most of it was paved steps carved out of the cliff.

We took the nature trail back through the cotton woods where only in August a raging torrent had raced through,

We took the shuttle back to White Rock, got our car, and then retraced our route past Bandolier and on along Hwy 4.  We stopped at a forest camp to eat our lunch, in an area that was part of the huge burn last June.
Much of the pine forest, dotted with aspen, showed signs of burning until we got to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. 
This meadow is the result of a huge volcanic collapse.
Turning south on Hwy 4, we entered the Jemez River valley.  This is Battleship Rock.
Scenes along the road in the Jemez river Valley.

We have been admiring Jemez pottery everywhere we go, so now we had a chance to see where it comes from.  The pueblo had a very nice visitors center.
What an amazing location their pueblo sits on!  Mountains and a river valley on one side...
and red rocks on the other.
As we drove out of the valley and turned back east and then north back to Santa Fe, we stopped to visit the Zia Pueblo, which had a small museum displaying some of their wonderful pottery, and Santo Domingo, which we drove through a small portion of.  Neither allowed photographs.
As a scenic byway, this drive did not disappoint.


  1. Absolutely stunning photos, Linda! I especially loved seeing the photos of Bandelier. Our son took us there a couple of years ago. It's so much fun seeing you climb the same ladder we went up on.

  2. The places you went to seem almost deserted. Were there other tourists?

  3. I keep marveling at the blue sky, day after day. I forget how often it was sunny in Colorado when I lived there. The colors of fall are everywhere, and your pictures are so good. Oh, there WERE clouds in one picture, I remember now. Whew!

  4. Gigi, the tourist season ends here after September. some things are closed. Out here in the back country there are few travelers, although Bandelier had quite a few visitors.
    We like to travel off season. No crowds, pictures mostly free of other people.

  5. Ah, I see. Good idea!

  6. fun tour-we've been to bandelier...and mesa verde-so interesting-lovely autumn colors. Red rocks are my favorite. Come visit us some time in Utah-we have tons of red rocks...


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