Monday, July 21, 2014

DESTINATION: Jemez Springs, NM

Road through Jemez Springs
After a romp through the Jemez Mountains and a short hike to the Jemez Waterfall we continued south on Highway 4 to the village of Jemez Springs, New Mexico. This sleepy little town lies in a valley along the Jemez River.  The Jemez valley has a fascinating variety of canyons, mesas, tentrocks, hotsprings, ancient village remnants, spring-fed rivers and gorgeous red rock formations. 

Battleship Rock
As we neared the village, one of the first rock formations we saw was Battleship Rock. Battleship Rock is a sheer cliff that rises suddenly above the river like the prow of a ship.  The formation is peppered with bits of glassy smooth obsidian, a black rock created from volcanic eruptions in the area over 5 million years ago.  Adventurous hikers (not us on that day!) can hike to the top to get a bird's eye view of the valley.

Soda Dam
Further along Hwy 4 is Soda Dam where water from underground hot springs has flowed for centuries. The buildup of mineral deposits has formed a unique and spectacular natural dam (mostly calcium carbonate) that blocks the Jemez River.  Intending to take a swim, we stopped at the hot springs only to find it too hot and smelly for our liking.  We did, however, find a small hot springs pool on the opposite side of the highway where we witnessed the mineral springs gurgling from a hole in the rock. 

Swimming hole along Jemez River
Soda Dam
Nail art in old door
frame on the
ground near Soda Dam

Jemez Historic Site
Just inside the city limits of Jemez you'll find another popular point of interest: the Jemez Historic Site.  Unfortunately, on the day of our arrival, the site was closed for repairs.  Normally, visitors are welcome to tour the history and the beauty of this historical site. The ruins are among the most impressive in the Southwest. An interpretive trail winds through the 7 acre site.

Weary from the road we decided to make a pit stop at one of only three restaurants in Jemez Springs, Los Ojos Restaurant & Saloon.  Although the restaurant/bar lacks good reviews, we found it to be welcoming to two dirty motorcycle gringos.  We downed a couple of cold beers and the Chili Charley (fries topped with green chili stew & cheese) all served by a very friendly woman referred to as "mama" by several locals.  "Mama" told us stories of fires that took place in the area in the past years and explained some of the sites around town.  Cooled and refueled we hit the road.  Next destination:  Gilman Tunnels!

Inside Los Ojos
Chili Charley - Yum!
G-man's Happy!