Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway


One of eight official “byways” in the state, the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway has an abundance of scenic, natural, cultural and historic assets. This 132-mile loop accommodates most vehicles and offers a convenient and rewarding way to experience the best of Northern New Mexico—in just one day! Depart west from Los Alamos via State Road 501 and turn right onto State Road 4 (SR 4) toward Jemez (HEY-mess) Springs, traveling through Bandelier National Monument. The road leads up more than 1,000 feet through dense forest, cresting at an elevation of 9,000 feet.

It is at this point that the view will open up to reveal the incredible Valles Caldera, a volcanic crater with grazing elk and trails to fishing and hot springs. From here, continue on to Jemez Falls campground where a 0.25-mile easy hiking trail leads down to a lovely waterfall. Back on SR 4, see the majestic Battleship Rock (on left). A short, but steep, hike takes you to McCauley Warm Springs.

Further along SR 4, you will see Soda Dam and then the Jemez State Monument, site of the historic pueblo and mission. If time permits, drive 5.5 miles to the Gilman Tunnels on SR 485 (a remnant of the old D&RG “Chili Line” railroad that ran in the early 1940’s). An extra three miles will take you to Ponderosa Valley Vineyard (575-834-7487) on SR 290 or the red rocks of Jemez Pueblo and Walatowa Visitor Center (575-834-7235) on SR 4. Return to Los Alamos to refresh, relax and regroup at one of our fine lodging establishments and eateries.


Ponderosa Valley

Jemez Pueblo/Walatowa Visitor Center


Mileage round trip: 98.8 miles
Total driving time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Map of three parks

Los Alamos is home to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Research of national interest is conducted at the Lab. For security purposes, you will pass through the Security Perimeter on route to SR 4 and Jemez Springs. In most cases, you will not be required to show an ID. Be prepared to respond to security protocols when traveling within the Laboratory.