It’s mid-February but the temperatures are in the low 70s and I’m itching to get out. This past week I went up into the Jemez Mountains trying to get my bearings on where to do some fly-fishing. The Jemez Mountains and the Jemez River (creek?) are reasonably close to me and I enjoy spending time up there. I didn’t expect to do any fishing. I stopped off at the Ranger Station in Jemez Springs and got the low-down on fishing access. It is a little confusing because the lower public access points have been gated and locked up but they said they were open to foot traffic but not parking. I’d have to park along the highway shoulder and walk in to fish. OK…no big deal. I don’t know why they have things locked up and I didn’t inquire.
The lower part of the Jemez River is small…actually like a creek…and it is pretty much bordered by willows and a little scrubby brush along with some cottonwood trees. Once it gets up into the canyon area it runs fast and is rocky with only a few straight shots without small waterfalls.
At one point the river flows through Soda Dam, a naturally occurring dam that originated as deposits from a hot spring. There are a number of hot springs up in the Jemez Mountains and this one must have been pretty big. Part of the dam was destroyed to make room for the highway but you can still see its impressive size.
Battleship Rock is another landmark along the river. From certain downstream angles it does look like the bow of a huge ship. There is fishing access along the upper part of the river in the canyon but it looks a little challenging. In some places getting to the water is a steep climb.
Well, of course, this being a warm spell after a couple snow storms, the river was higher than normal and muddy. The Jemez Mountains are in a slow recovery from several large forest fires and the runoff carries a lot of silt and mud.
I took another afternoon trip out to the Ojito Wilderness Area which is also close by. I’m not much into long backpacking trips anymore but I enjoy a day trip out in the wilderness areas mainly for photography or just seeing what is there. New Mexico has a lot of places like the Ojito Wilderness. There is a dedicated off-road bike area nearby with some serious bike trails. It is a pretty place if you like desert scenery.
This is the winter look. Warmer months would be somewhat greener.
It is a place of broken rock. I noticed what looked like fossilized worm trails on some of the rock slabs and I’m guessing that there would be other fossils there as well. I’ll have to look into the geology of the place. There is a skeleton of a Seismosaurus in the Museum of Natural History in Albuquerque that was recovered from the Ojito Wilderness.
We were there on a Monday afternoon and there were other cars parked along the access road so it seems to be a reasonably popular place. It is close enough that I can get there easily depending on the weather and time of day.