Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - The Jemez Country


September 18, 1999

West of Bandelier National Monument lies the Jemez Country, an area that encompasses everything from Los Alamos to San Ysidro. Included are such well know names as Jemez Wilderness, Jemez Mountains, Jemez River, Sulphur Springs, Battleship Rock, Jemez Canyon, Jemez State Park, Jemez Mountain Trail, and Jemez Springs -- plus hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and Valle Caldera, this country's largest caldera.

Pictured above is Valle Caldera, which is now a National Preserve. At least eight Hollywood westerns have been filmed here. This photo was taken at stop number 4 on our Jemez Country trip map. For a large (97k) aerial view of the Jemez Country click here.


Valle Grande Overlook Highway Sign

Valle Grande, which appears to be a valley, is actually a caldera, which is the Spanish word for kettle. A caldera is a collapsed volcano. To geologists, Valle Grande is known as Valles Caldera.

A million years ago, the area that is now the Jemez Country was filled with active volcanoes. The Jemez Volcano erupted so much material that a void was created under the overlying rock surface. With its support gone, the surface collapsed. As the central surface collapsed, vents opened around the edges and more eruptions occurred.

Most of the collapsed area filled in with ashes, lava, tuff and other material from the eruptions.

This sign is at Stop 3 on our Jemez Country trip map.


September 18, 1999


September 18, 1999

NE View of Valle Caldera from Overlook

Valle Grande is this country's greatest calderas and one of the largest in the world. In 2000 it became the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Valles Caldera is 17 miles in diameter. In the center is a giant "blister," Redondo Peak, which is one kilometer (0.6 miles) above the caldera or valley floor. Because of Redondo Peak, the entire valley cannot be seen from any one point.

This is the view looking northeast from the roadside Overlook at Stop 3 on our Jemez Country trip map.


NW View of Valles Caldera NP 
from Valle Grande Overlook

This is the view looking northwest from the Overlook at Stop 3 on our Jemez Country trip map.

Calderas differ from craters in that craters result from the impact of asteroids, while caldera are the result of volcanic activity. Crater Lake in Oregon is actually a caldera.


September 18, 1999


U.S. Department of Agriculture


Jemez Mountains

The Jemez Mountains are a volcanic field that were active as recently as 130,000 years ago. Some geologists think that, based on the long history of the Jemez volcanic field and past cycles in activity, it probably should be considered a dormant volcano that will probably erupt again.

Click here for a large (97k) aerial view of the Jemez Country, including Los Alamos, Valle Grande (Valles Caldera) and the Jemez Mountains.


Jemez River Canyon


U.S. Department of Agriculture


September 18, 1999


Battleship Rock

Fifteen miles north of Jemez Falls on Route 4 sits Battleship Rock, which was formed during the last eruptions of the Jemez Volcano. There is a picnic area there, as well as the trail head for McCauley Hot Springs. YMCA Camp Shaver is located nearby.

There are at least two stories about how Battleship Rock got its name. One is that, like the prow of a battleship, Battleship Rock is the point where the East and West Forks join to become the Jemez River. The other explanation is that it looks like a battleship.


Jemez Canyon Near Sundown

The Jemez Country, like Sedona, Arizona, is known for its red rock formations.

This sign is at Stop 5 on our Jemez Country trip map.


September 18, 1999


Email: Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten