New Mexico State Road 4

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State Road 4

NM 4 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by NMDOT
Length67.946 mi[1] (109.348 km)
Part of Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway
Major junctions
West end US 550 in San Ysidro
Major intersections
East end NM 502 north of White Rock
CountryUnited States
StateNew Mexico
CountiesSandoval, Los Alamos, Santa Fe
Highway system
  • New Mexico State Highway System
NM 3 NM 5

New Mexico State Road 4 (NM 4) is a 67.946-mile-long (109.348 km) state highway in Sandoval, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe counties in New Mexico, United States. It is significant as the main access route (in conjunction with NM 501 and NM 502) connecting the remote town of Los Alamos, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Bandelier National Monument to other, more major highways in New Mexico.

Route description

NM 4 approaching Battleship Rock, June 2011
An outcropping in the Valles Caldera along the highway, July 2007

NM 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 views into Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument, to a junction with NM 501 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, NM 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 was 4-lane until its reconstruction in 2012; now that stretch is 2 lanes with many left-turn turn lanes going to businesses and streets in White Rock. 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 NM 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]

National Scenic Byway

NM 4 forms the main artery of the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway.[4] 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:

Major intersections

SandovalSan Ysidro0.0000.000 US 550 – Bernalillo, CubaWestern terminus
Jemez Pueblo6.1619.915
NM 290 north – Ponderosa
Southern terminus of NM 290
NM 485 north
Southern terminus of NM 485
La Cueva26.27042.277
NM 126 east – Cuba
Western terminus of NM 126
Los Alamos49.69879.981
NM 501 east – Los Alamos
Western terminus of NM 501
Santa Fe67.946109.348 NM 502 – Los Alamos, PojoaqueEastern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

==See also==* List of state roads in New Mexico


  1. ^ "Posted Route–Legal Description" (PDF). 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". Archived from the original on January 15, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  3. ^ General Accounting Office. "T-RCED-00-257 Fire Management: Lessons Learned From the Cerro Grande Fire" (PDF). Retrieved December 29, 2007.
  4. ^ State of New Mexico, Tourism Department. "Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway". Archived from the original on August 23, 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  5. ^ National Park Service. "Short Trails at Bandelier National Monument". Retrieved December 25, 2007.
  6. ^ "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.

External links