Jemez Mountain Trail

State: New Mexico
Length: 163.0 mi / 262.3 km
Time to Allow: 3 hours to drive, or a full day trip to explore

While many of the trails through New Mexico focus on the state’s incredible history, this is 1 scenic byway that lets you experience the beauty of the outdoors up close and personal. Whether you’re just looking to drive through incredible valleys and along with wildlife viewing areas, or are looking to take advantage of fishing, hunting, hiking, and snow sport recreation facilities, Jamez Mountain Trail is the scenic byway for you.

This mountainous trip takes you through the Jemez Mountains, not only allowing you to experience several miles of gorgeous cliffs and stunning geological formations but also ancient dwellings from thousands of years ago. Those interested in seeing how humans made their homes among these rugged cliffs should check out Bandelier National Monument, a 33,000-acre area that houses not only impressive mountain ranges but also incredible historic monuments worth appreciating. For those looking to take to the trails, this mountain range offers plenty of hiking and biking opportunities, as well as scenic walking trails for those looking to enjoy the mountainside at a slower pace. Campers and fishers will find plenty of locations to become one with the gorgeous scenery, and wildlife viewing locations allow you to see the natural fauna of New Mexico in action as you walk through this stunning area.

Take a jump forward in history and visit Gilman Tunnels to the west of this trail. These tunnels aren’t for the faint of heart and show off the impressive engineering and explosive work used to create the railroad in this area, a cornerstone of bringing settlers west during later portions of American history. Visitors will stand in awe of these massive tunnels carved out of the stolid mountain range around them and find themselves stunned into silence at the dangerous work it took to craft these railroad tracks. Of course, for those not as interested in the existentialism that comes with viewing cave systems, Ponderosa offers plenty of wine tasting locations to help you sip and consider the various locations you’ve already visited, as well as get a real taste for the local cuisine.

While this byway can be driven in a single day, to truly experience all of the incredible canyons and mountains that make up this area, as well as the historic landmarks that speak to the long history of New Mexico, you should plan for at least a few days to explore everything this trail has to offer. Whether you find yourself drawn by the prospect of snow sports in the desert, or are looking to visit Red Rock State Park and take in the unique geologic features that give the area its name, you’ll find no shortage of activities along Jemez Mountain Trail. The beautiful Jemez Mountains beckon you to visit them, inviting you to see the gorgeous blue sky and rolling valleys that greeted settlers when they first visited the area and were (and still are) a longtime home to Native American groups who built their homes alongside these impressive peaks.

More New Mexico Byways

You can check out additional Byways in New Mexico by clicking on the list of byways below, or by going to the New Mexico Byways home section. To find even more of scenic byways in the United States, visit our scenic byways map.