New Mexico’s Scenic Hwy 4

Join us as we drive New Mexico’s National Scenic Byway.

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When we began our drive to Jemez Historic Site, we didn’t know we would be driving on Scenic Hwy 4. We soon discovered the road we were taking to the site was a destination in itself.


Not long after turning north on Hwy 4 at San Ysidro, we crossed the Jemez Reservation boundary line. Up ahead we saw towering red rocks.

Around mile marker 7, we pulled into the Red Rock parking area. Andy grabbed the camera from the backseat and we excitedly walked from the parking area towards these amazing red rock cliffs.Red Rocks off Hwy 4

The Jemez Red Rock area is sacred to the Jemez people. There are signs along the rocks reminding visitors not to climb them.Sacred Cliffs

There are fences in certain areas to keep tourists from going too far back into the rocks. We were saddened to find that one area, similar to a slot canyon, contained graffiti.passage-through-red-rocks.jpg

The area hosts arts and crafts shows, powwows, and vendors starting Memorial Day weekend. When we stopped in March, there were only tourists.Red Rock Vendor Area

Enjoy this gallery of photos from Red Rocks.

(Click the thumbnails to see full-sized images)

Across from Red Rocks is the Walatowa Visitors Center. A small museum in the center displays the history, culture, and art of the Jemez Pueblo. We purchased a small turtle in their gift shop to join our souvenir family. We also picked up a copy of the Jemez Mountains Vacation Guide. This free publication contained information for each mile marker along the route.

Replica of Ancestral Field House Walatowa Visitor Center
Replica of Ancestral Field House at Walatowa Visitors Center


Continuing along Hwy 4, we entered the Jemez National Recreation Area. The first area, around mile marker 10, is Las Junta. We walked the short trail to the shore of the Jemez River and captured a few photos.OVerview at Las Junta Fishing Area

Jemez River at Las Junta

Back in the car, we drove about a mile and a half to the Las Casitas  Area.

Jemez River at Las Casitas Fishing Area


We continued north along Hwy 4 towards the Jemez Historic Site. About a mile from the site, Andy saw the entrance to Jemez Hot Springs and we quickly detoured into their parking lot.Original Bath House at Giggling Sprngs

He had noticed an older building and wanted a few pictures. The manager kindly allowed Andy to take several pictures of the historic Bath House, built sometime in the mid-1800s. He then took us on a quick tour inside the privacy fence to the hot springs pools. There were customers using the pools and we stayed on the porch.

After thanking him, we continued the short distance to the historic site. Click this link to read our post about the Jemez Historic Site.

After our tour of the historic site, we resumed our drive up Hwy 4. It was early in the afternoon and we hoped to see more sites found in the vacation guide.


Our next stop was created over centuries by mineral deposits from a hot spring. Even in early March, the Soda Dam is a popular spot.

Spring flowing into Soda Dam
Spring flowing into Soda Dam

A gallery of photos from the Soda Dam

(Click the thumbnails to see full-sized images)

Small hot spring pool inside Soda Dam

Small pools of water from the hot springs inside the Soda Dam

Soda Dam Pano

Across the highway from the Soda Dam, a hot spring flows along the side of the road. This is definitely an interesting place to explore. Please use caution driving through here because people walk back and forth across the highway.Hot Spring across from Soda Dam


Battleship Rock

Our next stop, Battleship Rock, was formed during the last eruptions of the Jemez Volcano. This large rock formation marks the confluence of the East Fork of the Jemez River and the San Antonio Creek. The site includes the trailhead for the McCauley Hot Springs trail and a picnic area.


The last place we wanted to explore before heading back to the RV was Jemez Falls. The guide suggested we drive to the day use area, park our car and hike the short quarter-mile trail to the falls overlook. We had plenty of daylight left for this short trip.Jemez Falls CampgroundWe drove about 9 miles on Hwy 4 to the entrance to the campground and day use area. Unfortunately, the gate at the entrance was closed. We saw several cars in a small parking area along Hwy 4 about 30 feet from the gate. We pulled into a spot and got out.

Jemez Falls Campground RoadIt was a bit cooler here and there was snow on the road leading into the campground. We decided to walk the road to the trailhead, guessing it wasn’t too far. Actually, it was a bit further than we thought. It was about a mile to the falls from where we parked.

Jemez Falls Day Use Picnic Area
We had reached the Day Use Area. It was only a quarter mile more.
Views from Jemez Falls Overlook
Frozen spring from the Overlook
Jemez Falls Overlook Scenery
View from Jemez Falls Overlook

We didn’t mind the walk, we just wished we had packed jackets in the car. We enjoyed our time at the falls and were glad we took the time to see them.

We hadn’t figured the extra time needed for the walk to the falls when we planned our day. We arrived back at the RV around 7:15 pm to a couple of hungry dogs that needed to be walked.

Scenic Hwy 4 is a part of the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway.

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