Earlier in May my mother came to visit us here in New Mexico for the first time. We wanted to pack in as much fun and adventure as we could on a limited budget so we made good use of New Mexico's natural beauties.
We managed to make an entire day trip out of visiting the greater Jemez Springs area. The drive from the Rio Rancho area to Jemez Springs can be mundane in a few spots, but once you get close to Jemez, you enter the Santa Fe National Forest and the surroundings become saturated with beauty. As you travel through this area you can't help but feel as though you're on the set of a classic American western movie. It doesn't get any more authentic than this. Also, as you're driving through the Jemez Pueblo you can get a small glimpse into the Native American lifestyle which is interesting to see.
While in Jemez Springs we stopped by the Jemez Historic Monument which only takes about 30 - 45 minutes to walk through. I can't say there is anything too highly entertaining about this monument but it is always interesting to see historic ruins. For more information on the monument check out this website which gives a detailed history.
The last stop on this day trip was to Gilman Tunnels which were worth the drive just by themselves. While you're driving to the tunnels, which were blasted in the 1920s, you get a great view of the Jemez Mountains which you can see in my photos below. Once you actually reach the tunnels, you'll get a incredible view of the Guadelupe River which may induce vertigo if you're not comfortable with heights (the road is narrow and in some areas is a sheer drop off). You can learn more about the Gilman Tunnels here.
The following day brought us to Petroglyphs National Monument - or, specifically the inactive volcanoes that are responsible for the lava rock found in the surrounding areas. This portion will be coming up in part two of this post, so stay tuned!