Jemez Falls is a great spot up in the Jemez Mountains. This little gem lays on the East Fork of the Jemez River. With a picnic area, marked trails, campsites, and pretty waterfall with stream, families of all ages are sure to have a great time in this refreshing wilderness paradise.
Northwest of Albuquerque near Los Alamos, NM
My husband and I have been hiking in the Jemez Mountains since we were teenagers. There is a plethora of fun trails, streams, hot springs, and wilderness to explore. It is definitely a favorite place of ours and we always enjoy exploring all around this area of The East Fork River.
If you like to hike, this area is perfect, especially in summer. We have also brought guests from out of town for a quick visit to the falls en route to Los Alamos, and that has been nice as well. Please see our Los Alamos Sidetrack for more information.
The parking lot is paved and the whole recreation area is well maintained. There is a trailhead map and it is a short walk on a maintained trail to get to the main lookout point of the falls. We always enjoy doing that trail first and then taking the trail down to the Jemez River. There is a cyclone fence at the cliff’s edge and the view of the falls is amazing.
The kids love spending time exploring the calm river and bottom falls just upstream from the falls during the warmer months. It is a popular spot in summer, but has never been too congested. There are lots of pretty wild flowers along the banks and plenty of fish (rainbow trout) in the stream. You will find plenty of nice fishing holes here. State fishing permits are required for anyone 16 years and older. You may even see rock climbers repelling down the rock wall adjacent to the falls. Pretty cool!
Summer monsoons can bring afternoon thunderstorms, so be sure to check the weather and be prepared for changing conditions.
The Jemez Falls Recreation Area also is a great spot to tent camp or park with a camper. Set in the ponderosa forest, there is plenty of shade. Sites fill up quickly during peak summer weekends. You are more likely to find an open reservation during the week. There is also a large day use gazebo that is available by reservation. It is equipped with picnic tables, shade and grills. There are restrooms and a large paved parking area.
As I have mentioned in other sidetracks, we enjoy wrapping up our fun day trips in the Jemez with green chile cheeseburgers at the full service casual restaurant/bar, Los Ojos, in Jemez Springs. There is an old saloon type bar in front, and a restaurant in back that is family friendly.