Just north of Jemez Springs , you pass this set of ruins (Hwy. 4, 505/829-3530, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $3), where the ancestors of the present Jemez people settled more than 700 years ago and lived until the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
More striking than the old pueblo, which was named Giusewa, is the crumbling Franciscan mission that rises in the middle of it. The convent and church of San José de los Jémez were built around 1620, using forced labor from the pueblo; the result was remarkably lavish, but the friars had abandoned their work by 1640, probably because they’d thoroughly antagonized their would-be parishioners.
Today the remnants of the two different cultures have nearly dissolved back into the earth from which they were both built, but the church’s unique octagonal bell tower has been reconstructed to good effect.
The place is closed Tuesdays in the winter; pay $5 admission, and you can also visit Coronado State Monument , on the north edge of Albuquerque, on the same day.
A couple of curves in the highway past the monument, you pass the rocks of Soda Dam off the right side of the road. The pale, bulbous mineral accretions that have developed around this spring resemble nothing so much as the top of a root-beer float, with a waterfall crashing through the middle. You can’t really get in the water here, but it’s a good photo op.