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Mid May – Mid June 2020 Jemez Adventures ( Hiking, Camping, Fishing Newsletter

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Overview - Much of the Santa Fe National Forest is still closed due to Covid-19 at this time, including forest trails & roads, campgrounds & parks. Despite the closures many open areas still provide quality outdoor adventures in the Jemez (see highlights below). More public Jemez lands will open in July.

FishingIn general the fishing opportunities are limited by the Covid 19 closures in the Santa Fe National Forest Western Division. There has been no stocking to date so the wild trout are getting pummeled. JA advises the careful release of all brown and cutthroat trout until the Pandemic is over. Some May/June Fishing highlights:

· Rio de Las Vacas – water low and fish are spooky. Some dry fly action in late May. I didn’t do all that well (but I did catch over 20 chubs – some to 8 inches long!) but John T. caught this 16” brown on the upper public water below NM 126.

· East Fork – has been slow for browns on dries fishing at Las Conchas Rec Area. With few waters open these guys are getting pounded and are justifiably spooky. Good news – Las Conchas Fishing Access opened last week – hike upsteam into the canyon (< 1/2 mi.) for best fishing. The stretch above Battleship Rock fished OK in late May – start where Trail #137 leaves the river - fishing gets better the farther up you go. They are looking up - go with dry flies.

· Main Jemez River – Fished quite well in mid to late May, and recent rain has helped water levels. #14 - #16 dry flies were the ticket. Some browns to 12”, most 9” – 11”.

· Rio San Antonio – I didn’t fish it in May/June but heard good word about the Dark Canyon area. The area above NM 126 bridge should fish well now.

· Other Notes: Guadalupe, Cebolla below NM 126 and Las Vacas below the Girl Scout Camp are inaccessible due to ongoing road work. Fenton Lake remains closed and San Gregorio Lake has not been stocked.

Hiking – There are loads of people on the trails that are open – wear a mask and keep personal distancing. This will continue until more of the Forest opens. Some Hiking Highlights:

· E. Fork Tr. #137 – Las Conchas Rec Area is open and crowded except on weekdays in early AM. Forest hot springs (e.g. McCauley, San Antonio) are closed. Trail above Battleship is open, and the Jemez Falls section and Falls Trail opened last week.

· Lower Jemez – Access areas below (south) Jemez Springs are open now and provide some hiking and recreational wading opportunities in a cottonwood bosque.

· Valles Caldera, Bandelier – Still closed to hiking and fishing.

Camping Some dispersed (dry) camping is available, but no campgrounds in the Forest are currently open. Backpacking is open in the San Pedro Parks Wilderness, but not in the Bandelier & Dome Wildernesses or the Valles Caldera. Some May June Camping Highlights:

· Bandelier Wilderness - FR 289 is open, and day hikes are allowed (no backpacking). All Bandelier Campgrounds are closed.

· San Pedro Parks Wilderness – are open for backpacking, fishing, & horses.

· Dispersed camping along FR 378, FR 144, FR 100, FR 20, FR 36 & FR 99 is open. FR 376 is closed for its entire length, FR 10 & FR 539 are closed.

Drives – Most of the great Jemez drives are off limits for Covid 19 or road maintenance. A few classic drives remain open, but forest visitors are limited to smaller areas so expect crowding on roads and pullouts. Some May/June Drives highlights:

· NM 4 – open from San Ysidro to Los Alamos. Jemez Falls is open, the Valles Caldera and Bandelier National Monument are closed.

· NM 290 – open to about 2 miles above Ponderosa. Enough to do some wine tasting, but call ahead (575) 834-7487) for Covid-19 modified hours of operation.

· NM 126 – open from La Cueva to Cuba, but the section from the hatchery to FR 20 is ROUGH. Do not try it if there is rain in the forecast – mud will be very deep.

· FR 20 and FR 533 - are open.

· NM 96 – is open from Gallina to Abiquiu Dam. Some side roads may be closed – look for signs.

· FR 289 – is open (day hikes only), but as always be careful on this road – it can be rough and is always a gamble in wet weather.


As always have a great day in the Jemez Mountains – you deserve it!

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