Our Love For Jemez Springs and Fenton Lake

School has only been out a few weeks, but if you’re like me, the pleas of “I’m bored,” are already driving you crazy. You need a vacation, and someplace new. Well, how about Jemez Springs and Fenton Lake? Jemez Springs is an adorable and picturesque little town about 1 hour from Albuquerque and is just laden with history, gorgeous red rocks, fishing streams, a nearby lake, a rock tunnel, waterfalls, ruins, hot springs, and much more!!

And have your camera ready for the drive. On the way you’ll see little old churches, beautiful trees, amazing, deep red rock formations, mountain vistas, and striking white mesas.

(Get gas in Bernalillo when you get off of 25, as that’s one of the last stops for supplies.)  

You’ll pass Canon del Rio retreat resort, which is a lovely, quiet, retreat-style resort with only 6 rooms!  It’s got about 5 acres of property and a pool and hot tub.  Several wonderful body treatments await you in their gorgeous Spa.  Prices are very affordable.

Before you hit the main town, you can turn left to drive up into the mountains and through Gilman Tunnels. It’s a rock tunnel where you can park your car and check out the waterfall!  It’s a quick turn-off and shouldn’t take too long for you to take this little stop…kids love tunnels, right?  Here is the route.  Here is what to expect.  Once you get back onto the main road, keep your eyes peeled for quaint art galleries and craft businesses.  This town has a lot waiting for you!

My favorite restaurant in Jemez is the Jemez Stage Stop Cafe.  They always welcome you with a smile and wonderful service. The kiddos will love sitting on the outside deck overlooking the chickens and goats in the yard!

Happy pup after receiving her water bowl

Happy pup after receiving her water bowl

Dogs are always welcome, and servers sometimes even ‘fetch’ them a bowl of water!  There is live music in the evenings, and please, for dessert, order the Fruits of the Forest Pie!!!  You will NOT regret it.


Another few minutes up the road are the ancient ruins of the Jemez Historic Site.  This is a very scenic, beautiful, and informative stop, with a small

Looking Through Time at Jemez Historical Site

Looking Through Time at Jemez Historical Site

fee.  There are signs along the path with numbers that correspond to a paragraph or two in the booklet provided at the office They explain the significance of each area and even give a drawing of what the room looked like when it was first built hundreds of years ago!  This is tangible history at it’s best.  Plus, kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy discovering all the little hidden rooms and nooks and crannies of this old mission church.  Don’t miss the museum building’s exhibits!


The Country Store on the corner as you turn off for Fenton Lake

Another few minutes up the road you will find hiking paths, hot springs, and Fenton Lake. Some of these paths can be long for little legs, but most are very doable. For maps to find the various hot springs in town, go here.  Just beware, in some of the hot springs, there will be an occasional swimsuit optional area!

Fenton Lake is a great oasis in the desert.  Bring your fishing rods–fishing licenses and bait can be purchased at the little stop before you get to the lake. Fenton also has a great camping area lakefront. FYI: Don’t be surprised if you are driving UP a mountain on the way to the lake…you will eventually drive DOWN the other side and arrive at the lake.

Fenton Lake

Fenton Lake

Head back the way you came, through Jemez Springs, and stop at Los Ojos for a drink, or dinner, but expect more of a bar scene, and lots of motorcycles out front.

Finally, if you haven’t eaten dinner in Jemez YET, there are tons of

One of the food stands among the red rocks

One of the food stands among the red rocks

Native American food stands in the red rock area near the town entrance.  They ROCK.  You’ll drive by and smell the authentic Native American and New Mexican fare. I LOVE their fry bread. Eat at the picnic tables or in your car.   Note:  The food stands close up by 5:00 pm most days!!


I hope you enjoy your day trip to Jemez Springs, it’s a place my family discovered soon after we moved here and have enjoyed MANY times since!  Tell me about your favorite Jemez stops, there are probably some things we haven’t discovered yet!

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