New Mexico State Road 4

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State Road 4 marker

State Road 4
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Length: 67.946 mi[1] (109.348 km)
Tourist
routes:
Jemez Mountain Trail
Major junctions
West end: US 550 in San Ysidro
 

NM 290 in Jemez Pueblo
NM 485
NM 126

NM 501 near Los Alamos
East end: NM 502 in White Rock
Location
Counties: Sandoval, Los Alamos, Santa Fe
Highway system
NM 3 NM 6

New Mexico State Road 4 is a state highway in New Mexico, United States of America. It is significant as the main access route (in conjunction with New Mexico State Road 501 and New Mexico State Road 502) connecting the remote town of Los Alamos, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Bandelier National Monument to other, more major highways in New Mexico. Its total length is approximately 64 miles (103 km).

Route description[edit]

An outcropping in the Valles Caldera along the highway

New Mexico Route 4's western terminus is in the small town of San Ysidro, at U.S. Route 550. The route passes through Jemez Pueblo and Jemez Springs as it climbs steeply into the Jemez Mountains and Santa Fe National Forest, and skirts the southern boundary of Valles Caldera National Preserve. On the east side of the Jemez Mountains, it descends even more steeply, on a series of hairpin turns offering spectacular views into Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument, to a junction with NM 501 (NM 502 in some references, but NM 501 is correct) leading east into the town of Los Alamos. NM 4 itself continues past the main entrance to Bandelier and several Los Alamos National Laboratory sites, as well as the town of White Rock, to another junction with NM 502 east of Los Alamos, where the route ends. The continuation of NM 502 to Pojoaque was formerly designated as NM 4 as well.

In contrast to several other state highways in northern New Mexico, New Mexico Route 4 is paved for its entire length. It is predominantly a 2-lane road, with passing lanes in several places in the mountains. A short section near White Rock is 4-lane. Speed limits on most of the highway are 50 or 55 miles per hour (mph), although the tight curves make it dangerous to maintain maximum speed in many sections. Speed limits are lower near and through the towns.

The coniferous forest traversed by Route 4 in its upper regions is prone to severe forest fires, several of which have burned up to the highway.[2] Unfortunately, the highway is too narrow to serve as an effective firebreak, and such devastating fires as the 1977 La Mesa Fire and 2000 Cerro Grande Fire, the most severe forest fire in the state's history, have jumped the road to destroy forests, and habitations, on both sides of the road—in the case of the Cerro Grande Fire, into the upper reaches of Frijoles Canyon, contributing significantly to the magnitude of the disaster caused by the fire.[3]

Major intersections[edit]

County Location Mile[4] km Destinations Notes
Sandoval San Ysidro 0.000 0.000 US 550 – Bernalillo, Cuba Western terminus
Jemez Pueblo 6.161 9.915 NM 290 – Ponderosa
  9.454 15.215 NM 485
  26.270 42.277 NM 126 – Cuba
Los Alamos   49.698 79.981 NM 501 – Los Alamos
Santa Fe White Rock 67.946 109.348 NM 502 – Los Alamos, Pojoaque Eastern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

National Scenic Byway[edit]

New Mexico Route 4 forms the main artery of the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway.[5] The Byway includes short excursions on New Mexico State Roads 502, 126, and 290. Notable points of interest on the NM 4 section of the Byway include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Posted Route–Legal Description". New Mexico Department of Transportation. March 16, 2010. p. 2. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ Wildfire Alternatives (WALTER) Project, University of Arizona. "Jemez Fire History". Retrieved December 25, 2007. 
  3. ^ General Accounting Office. "T-RCED-00-257 Fire Management: Lessons Learned From the Cerro Grande Fire". Retrieved December 29, 2007. 
  4. ^ "TIMS Road Segments by Posted Route/Point with AADT Info; NM, NMX-Routes" (PDF). New Mexico Department of Transportation. April 3, 2013. pp. 2–3. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  5. ^ State of New Mexico, Tourism Department. "Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway". Retrieved December 25, 2007. 
  6. ^ National Park Service. "Short Trails at Bandelier National Monument". Retrieved December 25, 2007. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing