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My trip to the Jemez Mountains area.

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Mt. Jemez

When I realized that I was going to need to either fly my son home from Wyoming or drive up there myself this summer, I was facing a dilemma. My son had enough luggage that we would either need to pay extra for it on a plane, or have it mailed home. The other problem was that if I was going to drive, I would either have to make it a quick and grueling trip or manage to figure out how to make it a vacation. While talking to my sister about this, she pointed out that I would turn fifty right before or during the trip. She also stated that it would be great to see me on my birthday. Well, that got my brain going. Using a map and my calendar, I realized that I could make the trip if I could get three weeks off work. So, I sent out the emails, looking for people to cover my shifts. By some miracle, I was able to get them covered and so I left on my trip on July 17th. I set out with my two dogs, Moose and Pepsi, in my trusty Kia Soul and a bunch of camping gear.

I was going to try and make it to Poverty Point Louisiana to see the Heritage Site, an amazing American Indian mound site, but ended up running late. I stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in Monroe, Louisiana. The next day, I was able to leave on time and make it to my friends’ house in Norman, Oklahoma. That was an amazing visit and, if I get their permission, I may share with you the photos of their unique and amazing house in the future. They also threw me a surprise birthday party, which was really a surprise because I had purposely not told them about my birthday. The next morning, my birthday, I headed west to Albuquerque to another birthday party and visit with my sister and her family. After several days of rest and family, my sister’s friend Sonya planned a hike into the Jemez Mountains to a waterfall and swimming hole. On July 22, 2021, we had three dogs with us, my two; Moose and Pepsi, and Sonya’s dog Finn and six people; my sister, her husband, her two teenagers that still lived at home, Sonya, and me. The hike was, per Sonya, about a mile in and would not be too bad but to expect to get our feet wet. I was a little apprehensive because I have bad knees but was determined to enjoy the hike. I honestly cannot tell you what road we were on where we entered the hike, but the sign below was right beside where the trail began for us.

This photo taken with my Canon Rebel.

The first part of the trail was easy and tranquil. The path went along a bubbling stream and through fields of wildflowers. Five photos below taken with my phone (LG Galaxy S20 Ultra).

Above left you can see Moose, my Black Lab mix, and Pepsi, my Beagle mix, enjoying the beginning of the hike. Ah, little did they know that they would soon not love it so much, though Pepsi lost her joy first. I say this because we soon realized that the trail crossed through the stream many times on the way up the mountain. We did not just get our feet a little wet, we got our ankles, calves, knees and a little above that wet.

Four photos above taken with my phone.

Moose did not mind the water but poor Pepsi, she was miserable, even making me carry her over the water once or twice. You can see the misery in her eyes in the picture below. Moose was off leash for a while, but he soon ended up back on leash because he just couldn't contain his need to run! Both photos taken with my phone.

One of my favorite parts of the hike were the trees. Albuquerque is in the Valley and desert, so the trees they do have are few and rather short, but up in the mountains the pine trees grew tall and straight and were so wonderfully fragrant. I had to take pictures of how beautiful they were.

Three photos above taken with my phone.

Mt. Jemez is a fascinating mountain range along the Rio Grande rift. It has fascinating igneous rocks that I found to be very dramatic looking. Several places along our path, you could almost see how the lava flows piled up each other to form these amazing rock structures. I do not believe these photos are of the Bandelier Tuff, but I am not exactly sure what rock they are. I may have to dig out my old rock and mineral identification book for future trips.

The first four pictures were taken with my phone and the last one with my Canon Rebel.

When we finally reached the top of the path; we came upon a beautiful water fall with a swimming hole above it. We sat down to eat our lunches, but as we were finishing up, it started to rain. Oh, and not just rain but thunder and lightening, too. Moose HATES thunder and so his joy disappeared. As you can see by their faces below, neither Moose nor Pepsi were able to enjoy the beauty of the waterfall.

Both photos taken with my Canon Rebel.

The area of the waterfall was a wonderful little valley that, had it not been raining, I could have stayed in all day. Below are pictures of the waterfall and area around it.

The three pictures above were taken with my phone. The seven below were taken with my Canon Rebel.

Our way back to our cars went quickly due to the thunder and lightening, but it started to clear towards the end. You can see the clouds in the sky in these next two photos.

Photos taken with my phone.

Once we got to the path through the forests, we discovered some amazing mushrooms. I do not know what kind of mushrooms these are. We did not pick them or keep them, though there were other people in the area looking for mushrooms to pick. Honestly, with my luck, I would pick the wrong kind of mushroom. But these were beautiful.

Photos taken with my phone.

The day was enjoyable, and I would definitely go back. In fact, I plan to go back the next chance I get to explore other areas of the Jemez Mountains. My final two pictures are of the flowers, damp with rain, that graced our path out.

Photos taken with my phone.

I am also including below a list of web sites that I found fascinating and that I will definitely check out again before I head back to the beautiful Jemez Mountains.

Melissa B. Green


New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

PeakVisor page on Jemez Mountains.

New Mexico Natural History: Valles Caldera, Jemez Volcanic Field

New Mexico True: Jemez Mountain Trail.

American Southwest, Jemez Mountains.

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