Jemez Road is a quiet byway for shunpiking Interstate 25
When we drive to and from Albuquerque, we almost always take Interstate 25, and since many of central New Mexico’s most interesting events, museums and restaurants are in Santa Fe, we find ourselves on the Albuquerque-Santa Fe stretch of the highway over and over. Someday, I’m going to take the Rail Runner Express train (below, heading south out of Santa Fe), but it didn’t happen this trip.
On our most recent trip, we wanted to make a day trip to Los Alamos on a gray, sometimes- rainy Tuesday, so instead to reprising I-25, we followed New Mexico Highway 4, the Jemez Road. Much of it travels through tribal land, where photography is generally discouraged — if not downright prohibited. Exterior shots of the Jemez Pueblo’s Walatowa Visitor Center (below) are permitted, but the small tribal museum is also off-limits for photography.
The small, artsy Anglo community of Jemez Springs with a handful of galleries, shops, restaurants, accommodations, the Jemez State Monument and several hot springs, makes for a fine quiet getaway from Albuquerque, Santa Fe or Los Alamos, but the monument (ruins of an ancient pueblo) was closed the day we passed through, so we just stopped at the Highway 4 Cafe for coffee and pastry — both of which were very, very good.
Most of the roadside pullouts on public land north and east of the pueblo provide fishing access, but one is a bona fide
scenic and geologic attractions. The Soda Dam
, one of the area hot springs, is right off the road, so of course, we stopped.
So did other travelers, and many of them were wandering around the travertine
The highlight is a waterfall that emerges out of the tangled rock layers.
Valles Caldera National Preserve was created in 2000 to preserve and protect the 89,000-acre Baca Ranch in a volcanic crater in the Jemez Mountains. The preserve also represents a unique experiment in public land management, combining historic ranch operations with programs and facilities for visitors.
Caldera, the route passes through the section of Bandelier National Monument
burned during the Cerro Grande Fire
of May 2000. It started as a prescribed burn that went out of control and ultimately burned about 48,000 acres, destroyed 235 homes and other structures, threatened
the towns of Los Alamos
and White Rock from which more than 18,000 residents were evacuated and threatened the Los Alamos
National Laboratory. Natural revegetation
has occurred in the nearly nine-and-a-half years since then, but the Cerro Grande
fire remains searned into the consciousness of all who were impacted.
On a previous visit to Los Alamos
, we visited the Bradbury Science Museum
and the Los Alamos Ranch School
, where the Manattan Project
was hatched. My husband loves surplus stores, and this trip had the goal of visiting the Black Hole Sales Company
, a legendary surplus store established by the late “Atomic Ed” Grothus
. I took a few snapshots (below), but if this interests you, I urge you to click here
for photos and text by Dave Bullock
, a California
programmer, photographer and blogger who is for more competent at conveying the spirit of the place than I am.
I couldn’t begin to identify
most of the objects in this 19,000-square-foot boneyard
for surplus from the nuclear labs.
If you needed some cords to connect this to that, you might just be able to find it here. My husband, a connoisseur of surplus stores, praised the Black Hole for its organization.
I got a kick out of such whimsies as a barrel labeled “Empty” but clearly full of pipe couplings.
My husband remarked that I was “lucky” that the Black Hole was not in Denver, and I suppose I am. His eyes lit up at many of the objects that I couldn’t identify, but if it were closer, I suppose I might be living with some of them. The Black Hole is at 4015 Arkansas, Los Alamos
, New Mexico 87544; 505-662-5053. It is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturdays (except major holidays).