This was the most diverse day of the trip. We headed out from the Sandia foothills near Albuquerque and made our way to the red rock deserts on the way to the Soda Dam near Jemez Springs. The red rock deserts were beautiful, a vibrant red like I had never seen. It felt like I was on Mars. From there we headed to the Soda Dam.
The Soda Dam, an interesting sight to say the least, is a dam formed by the collection of minerals. It looked a lot like something out of a science fiction movie. It was definitely not your typical waterfall, but was worth the stop on our way. After that brief stop, we followed the road into the mountains. We winded our way through the sprawling pine tree lined paths.
We stopped for lunch at Jemez Falls, it reminded me of pictures of Colorado. I'm partial to the green mountain landscapes like these over the brown ones, like the Sandia Mountains. It was beautiful, we spent a great deal of time exploring here. We climbed on rocks, sat near the edges of cliffs, and skipped rocks on the river. Eventually, however, we did have to leave.
From there we drove toward Bandelier National Monument. We came around a bend and were compelled to stop. There were these incredible plains with mountains surrounding them. A long time ago, a super volcano stood where the Valles Caldera stands. The Valles was formed by this super volcano collapsing.
We stood and stared at the immense beauty of the sight. I learned from locals later that evening that elk typically roam the Valles. Sadly, we didn't see any elk while we were there. It was hard to believe that in one day we had seen so much. New Mexico had certainly not disappointed and we weren't even done for the day.
Finally, we left the beautiful plains of the Valles and made our way to Bandelier. It was difficult to understand just how big the Valles is. As we were driving around the perimeter we looked down and had few things to judge the size against. Then, we saw a SUV driving on one of the roads in the middle. It looked much smaller than we felt it should. After research into the Valles, we learned that it is almost 14 miles wide.
Remember, Adventure is Calling!
August 18th, 2015