RoadRUNNER’s Bucket List Roads: New Mexico State Route 4

Jul 09, 2016 View Comments by


What is It? New Mexico State Route 4 is part of the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway. Beginning in San Ysidro, Route 4 follows the Jemez River through a deep canyon for much of its length. Nearing Bandelier National Monument, riders ascend up and over the southern side of the steep gorge, until finally descending down hairpin switchbacks and motoring into White Rock, NM. 

Scenery: Stunning red desert and alpine vistas.

Curves: The curves are virtually non-stop; some of them are technical, tight hairpins.

Points of Interest: There are three major points of interest, each of which has the potential to consume several hours:

  • Jemez Hot Springs: Riders can relax in one of the hot springs located in Jemez Springs, NM.
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve: Ride a well-tended gravel road into the giant caldera of a volcano that last erupted some-1.2 million years ago.
  • Bandelier National Monument: Take a guided walking tour of the ancient Native American ruins in the Frijoles canyon, which has steep walls of solidified ash from eruptions by the nearby volcano. 

Traffic: Generally light, but slower vehicles, and more of them, may be encountered near San Ysidro. 

Distance: Approximately 64 miles

Time Required: One to two hours, depending on number and duration of stops

Technical Difficulty: This route should be taken at a prudent pace and is most appropriate for motorcyclists with mountain riding experience.

New Mexico SR 4


Text and photography: Jim Parks

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Tags: Categories: Destinations, On The Road