The Jemez Mountains (pronounced Hey-mus) lie just to the west of Los Alamos. This is one way that John likes to drive to Albuquerque, when he has the time. The scenery is beautiful as you drive along the winding roads. The air is clear as you drive along the volcanically formed mountain countryside.
If you take the back way out of Los Alamos, along State Road 4, you wind up a series of switchback turns through the Santa Fe National Forest. You continue on past Dome Road and the Valle Grande. The Valle Grande a 15 mile diameter Valles Caldera. This is the remains of a volcano that erupted 1.4 million years ago, forming the surrounding mountains before collapsing into the valley that it is now. Because of this recent volcanic history, the Jemez and surrounding mountains are filled with natural hot springs. There is also ample fishing and hunting in the area.
John points out that if you want to get to the most popular hot springs you follow State Road 4 past the Valle Grande, and take the left turn when you get to the place where the road splits. You continue on for a couple miles until you see a large parking lot on your left (toward the river). You park and follow the trail that leads down to the river in the southeast corner of the parking lot. This parking lot will probably be filled with cars, because it is a popular place. You cross the river on a log and continue up to the left. Voices and steam pour forth from the hot springs. "And don't worry if you forget your bathing suit," chuckles John.