If there is one road that can show you the most diverse mountain landscapes in all of New Mexico, it is the Jemez Mountain Trail.
As you travel along the Jemez Mountain Trail, you will see small towns, a thriving Native American Pueblo, natural springs, stunning red rock vistas, verdant valleys with herds of elk, and thickly forested mountain trails. On a scenic mountain road loop that covers roughly 132 miles, you can see a staggering range of natural diversity and meaningful historic remnants.
The Jemez Mountain trail is an intersection of roads that includes Highway 550 and Highway 4. It starts at the Coronado Monument in Bernallilo and encompasses the Jemez State Monument, Valles Caldera Preserve and finishes at Bandelier National Monument. It is filled with many opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, cross-country skiing, or visiting a natural hot spring
The photo above shows an old pick-up truck that languishes in a lean-to old barn in the town of Jemez.
Sample as much or as little of what the Jemez offers as you like. If you have a couple of hours, stop at the Walatowa Visitors Center on the Jemez Pueblo to sample the red rock vistas. Then, drive about 15 minutes down the road into Jemez Springs for lunch.
You can then follow the Jemez Mountain Trail straight into Santa Fe through the verdant Valles Caldera or trace your steps back to Albuquerque. Whatever you decide, the diverse scenery of this quietly beautiful drive nevers disappoints.