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Gilman Tunnels in New Mexico

Take a ride through the old railway tunnels

Best time: May–November

Gilman Tunnels
Gilman Tunnels
Gilman Tunnels, New Mexico
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The Gilman Tunnels take you through the rocks of the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, USA. You’ll drive along the Rio Guadalupe flowing below the tunnels, pass by impressive mesas, and enjoy the view of the Rio Guadalupe Box Canyon.

How dangerous are Gilman Tunnels

The mountain road through the tunnels is very narrow and winding, with sharp and blind curves. But the surface is well-paved, grades are moderate, and the traffic is light. Hence, the way is rather safe not only for cars but for mountain bikes also.

When are the Gilman Tunnels open

Gilman Tunnels, NM, are closed during the winter months due to snow and poor road conditions. There is a risk of avalanches and landslides. Snow often remains in the area till late April or early May. Typically Forest Service Road 376 remains open till late November and this is also the time when you can fully admire the fall colors around.

Jemez Mountains camping

Jemez Falls Campground is considered to be extremely popular among tourists. It is located in a stunning Ponderosa Pine in proximity to the East Fork Jemez River. The campground has 52 campsites that include picnic tables and fire rings. You can take the Jemez Falls trail, as the Jemez Falls is the largest waterfall in the Jemez Mountains, or you can also try nearby fishing. Bandelier National Monument and The Valles Caldera National Preserve are within a short driving distance.

Gilman Tunnels history

Built in the 1920s, the tunnels used to be a part of the former Santa Fe Northwestern Railway (SFNW). They are even named after a CEO of the SFNW—William H. Gilman. Till 1941 the tunnels served for the transportation of lumber from the mountains. Although the path has historical value, today, the tunnels are open for travelers and are free to enter.

Gilman Tunnels directions

To get to the tunnels, you should reach Jemez Springs, drive through the town of Cañones (also known as Gilman), and proceed to the Forest Service Road 376. The Gilman Tunnels are just one mile (1.6 km) beyond the transition to the road. If you drive from Albuquerque, the way is 56 miles (90 km) and takes about 1 hour. From Santa Fe, the 85-mile (135-km) drive would take about 1.5 hours.

Practical info

How safe is it to drive through the Gilman Tunnels?

Travelers can access the Gilman Tunnels through a narrow mountain road that is generally safe for cars and bikes. The pavement is well-maintained, and grades are moderate. It’s crucial to drive slowly and stay alert due to sharp and blind curves. Since the traffic is usually light, the speed limit is just 15 mph. Show more

When are the Gilman Tunnels open for visitors?

Visitors can access the Gilman Tunnels from late May to early November, which falls during the summer and fall months. The tunnels remain closed throughout winter due to heavy snowfall, which can lead to poor road conditions and an increased risk of landslides and avalanches in the area. Before planning the visit, it's recommended to check the local road conditions and weather forecast. Show more

Where is the Jemez Falls Campground and what amenities does it offer?

The Jemez Falls Campground is in the beautiful Jemez Mountains, upstream of the East Fork Jemez River. The campground is famous due to its popularity among tourists as it offers 52 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings surrounded by Ponderosa Pine forest that adds a unique experience. Tourists can also explore the surroundings like the Jemez Falls trail, fishing, and visiting nearby attractions like Bandelier National Monument and The Valles Caldera National Preserve. Show more

What is the history of the Gilman Tunnels?

Constructed in the 1920s, the Gilman Tunnels were originally part of Santa Fe Northwestern Railway (SFNW) that transported lumber from the mountains. The tunnels got their name from the CEO of the SFNW, William H. Gilman. The tunnels were used until 1941, after which they served as a historic landmark. Currently, the tunnels are open for travelers free of charge, providing a stunning view of the Jemez Mountains. Show more

How do I get to the Gilman Tunnels from Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

To visit Gilman Tunnels from Albuquerque, one should take approximately 1 hour to drive for about 56 miles (90 km). While visiting from Santa Fe, it would take around 1.5 hours to drive some 85 miles (135 km). The travelers need to drive towards Jemez Springs and continue to the Forest Service Road 376 after passing through the town of Cañones (also known as Gilman), and then the Gilman Tunnels will be present just after one mile (1.6 km) from the transition. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych