photography from the ground up

Just Up (Or Down) The Road

I spend a great deal of time wandering the badlands of the San Juan Basin and beyond in search of images. I have an unquenchable thirst for desert landscapes. Some people might consider me a little off kilter, especially since I live right in the middle of a place so full of natural beauty and geologic wonders that it draws visitors from around the world.

The first image is of Soda Dam, a large calcium carbonate formation that has been deposited over the ages by a small warm spring which is right on the shoulder of New Mexico state road 4. This naturally formed dam is pierced by the Jemez River which cascades over a small drop in elevation into a plunge pool which is a popular swimming hole for both locals and visitors from Germany, Japan, Russia… I can hear their squeals as they jump into the cold water on a hot summer day. Soda Dam is about two hundred yards from my door.

If I head in the opposite direction from Soda Dam on Hwy.4, it’s only a five minute drive to Battleship Rock, another geologic attraction that is visible from the highway. It was formed during the last volcanic eruption in these parts-around one million years ago. Lava from the eruption flowed into a narrow dead end canyon and hardened. Over time the softer material which made up the canyon walls eroded away, leaving the volcanic rock exposed.

If I continue up Hwy. 4, I will eventually come to the crowning jewel of the Jemez Mountains; the Valle Grande. Actually only one of several valles which were formed when a huge volcano exploded and collapsed to form a caldera about 1.6 million years ago. The Valle Grande was, until 2000, a privately owned ranch. It is now public land, administered by a trust. This is the view from a turn out on Hwy. 4 looking north.

So, you see, I really need not travel all that far to find a photogenic landscape, but I am in love with the desert; I am in love with the stark, naked, truthful beauty of the earth laid bare. The mountains, rivers, and alpine meadows are fine, but they do not speak to me in the way that the desert badlands do.

11 responses

  1. I can understand your love of the desert Jim but only since I started following your blog and was able to appreciate, through your pictures, just what a beautiful landscape it is. Your backyard is pretty special too though. 😉


    June 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

  2. Growing up in Albuquerque, my family and I did some weekend camping up there visiting the falls and the hot springs. Now it’s an area I can’t wait to visit again with my camera in tow. I envy the Youth Ranch Management Camp kiddos right now.
    Fantastic images, thanks for sharing! 🙂


    June 22, 2012 at 2:34 pm

  3. Looks like the first picture scenery is underwater


    June 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm

  4. John P. Meyer

    Just keep doing what you do, Jim. Those of us who don’t live there really appreciate it. (Well, I do anyway.)


    June 23, 2012 at 7:33 am

  5. Shirley Herold

    Jim, I miss New Mexico so much, and these pictures really are very special to me. Thank you.


    June 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

  6. Val

    I used to live in a desert, and I definitely understand your attraction. I love its rugged beauty.

    I happened upon your site because I saw one of your photos on Google Images. I had to come here to see the rest of your work, and I’m hooked! I love your photos. Thanks for sharing them.


    June 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

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