Excursion Three: Journey to the Jemez Mountains, Valles Caldera and Los Alamos

This trip offers our guests a voyage into the past and the fascinating world of the prehistoric Pueblo people along with a glimpse into the world of advanced physics and secrecy associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Leaving Santa Fe, we head north and then west through beautiful scenery, crossing the Rio Grande Valley and climbing the side of a large volcanic mountain range, the Jemez.  Your guide will share information about the rich cultural & natural history of this region en route.

We make a stop at a spectacular overlook where you can glimpse cliff dwellings from what was one of the largest population centers for the Pueblo people. We’ll continue our driving tour high into the Jemez mountains to visit the center of the geologic activity that created this stunning landscape.  We’ll visit the Valles Caldera National Preserve which encompasses the collapsed remains of the huge Jemez Volcanic Field that last erupted around 1.2 million years ago. This is one of the youngest and therefore most visible calderas in the world and is a spectacular grassland surrounded by forested peaks. Long a sacred area to the Pueblo Indians, it was the source of much of the obsidian they traded throughout the Americas in prehistoric times. We’ll overlook the Valles from several viewpoints and hope to spot the herd of resident Rocky Mountain Elk before descending the mountain to visit Los Alamos.

Los Alamos is the high-mesa town where the atomic bomb was developed secretly during World War II. You’ll learn about this town’s interesting history and the Manhattan Project. We’ll visit the Norris Bradbury Science Museum operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory to learn about today’s cutting edge scientific research projects.