Before we left for our international portion of our two-year round the world trip, we visited family including my parents who live in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Los Alamos is set in the beautiful high desert forest of the Jemez Mountains. The Jemez Mountains, which juts out of the valley floor, was formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity. This volcanic activity also resulted in the formation of one of the largest calderas in the world called the Valle Grande. There are many activities to do in the Jemez Mountains such as hiking, camping, bathing in hot springs, snow shoeing and skiing. While visiting my family, my father took us to explore some of the beautiful spots in the Jemez Mountains. Several of the places that we explored I had never seen before despite growing up in Los Alamos.
Our exploration started with a nice lunch in the town of Jemez Springs. Unfortunately several of the other places that my dad had planned for us to see were closed having limited hours during the winter. After lunch our first stop was Soda Dam. Soda Dam is a rock formation built up by mineral deposits from a hot spring resulting in a natural dam that blocks off the Jemez river. Over the centuries the Jemez river has carved away a portion of the dam. Soda Dam creates an impressive rock structure that is fun to scramble over and climb to the top off. Our next stop was Battleship Rock. Battleship Rock is a volcanic tuff formation that looks like the bow of battleship. There are several nice hikes that leave from Battleship Rock parking lot including one that goes to a hot spring. Unfortunately due to limited time we were able to only walk briefly around the area. On our exploration, we also made a stop to one of the many hot springs that can be found in the Jemez Mountains and a place were Los Alamos National Lab had done previous research on extracting geothermal heat. Our last stop was Jemez Falls. This was my favorite stop along the way. Jemez falls is a short easy hike, but is well worth the stop. Though there was no snow on the ground, there was the pleasant surprise at the end of the trail. The weather had been cold enough for the falls to be partially frozen over creating a beautiful scene.
Leaving for our round the world trip has been bitter sweet. We have had to say goodbye to many good friends and family. But over the last month, we have also had the opportunity to spend time with family and see many places that we have not seen before. The time spent with family and seeing new places has made the sacrifices of our journey well worth it.
P.S. Sydney would like me to add that you can find sharks teeth and fossils near Battle Ship Rock.