Headwaters Jemez River East Fork Valles Caldera

Headwaters Jemez River East Fork Valles Caldera

The East Fork originates in the Valles Caldera as a small meandering stream in a vast crater. On its way to its confluence with the Rio San Antonio, the river passes through the heart of the Jemez Mountains’ most popular recreation area.

The Jemez River is a tributary of the Rio Grande in eastern Sandoval County, New Mexico, United States.

The Jemez watershed offers anglers ample opportunity to catch trout. Several small- to medium-sized streams harbor rainbows, but the predominant fish are browns.NM Highway 4 follows the Jemez River throughout. The stream cuts through steep canyon walls and is replete with deep runs and pools. Surprisingly, the fishing is good even along the road. The Jemez River is formed where the Rio San Antonio is confluent with the East Fork at the prominent Battleship Rock.

The Rio San Antonio and East Fork-Jemez join to form the Jemez River at Battleship Rock. From Battleship Rock down to the town of Jemez Springs public access is shy, limited to just one mile below Battleship and then a short stretch between Soda Dam and Jemez Springs. There are approximately 4 miles of public water from Jemez Springs downstream to NM Highway 485.

Most of the Jemez ranges between 15-30 feet wide and generally 2-3 feet deep with a few deeper pools reaching five feet. Cottonwoods, willows and alders are scattered along this freestone like river forcing anglers to wade up the middle. NM Highway 4 parallels the river so access is extremely easy.

The Jemez is a low elevation trout stream, during the heat of summer water temps can soar making for a tough day. Winter on the other hand is cold but seldom freezing making this a wonderful winter fishery. Midge hatches provide the bulk of dry fly action during the winter months, however a well-filled box should include nymphs and streamers. Wild browns range from 8-12 inches, New Mexico Game and Fish stocks rainbows throughout the winter months.

Valles Caldera is a 13.7-mile wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Hot springs, streams, fumaroles, natural gas seeps and volcanic domes dot the caldera floor landscape. The highest point in the caldera is Redondo Peak, an 11,253-foot resurgent lava dome located entirely within the caldera. Also within the caldera are several grass valleys, or valles, the largest of which is Valle Grande the only one accessible by a paved road. Much of the caldera is within the Valles Caldera National Preserve, a unit of the National Park System. In 1975, Valles Caldera was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

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