Gilman Tunnels take you through the Jemez Mountains of NM

Tucked away in northern New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains, in the USA, the Gilman Tunnels, blasted out of the rock in the 1920s, were originally used for a logging railroad and are quite high. The tunnels have been the filming locations of many Hollywood hits.

Gilman Tunnels


Where are the Gilman tunnels?

The tunnels, also known as Jemez tunnels, are located near the town of Jemez Springs, in Sandoval County (New Mexico), on the Jemez Ranger District of the Santa Fe National Forest.

Can you drive through Gilman tunnels?

The road through the tunnels is called State Highway 485. The winding road is entirely paved but very narrow with sharp and blind curves. This road has an excellent surface, grades are moderate, and traffic is very light (heavier on summer weekends). On the far side of the tunnels, the road turns into the gravel Forest Service Road 376. Not recommended for passenger vehicles.

Are Gilman Tunnels open?

This road is usually closed due to snow and poor road conditions from Dec 15 to April 15. Snow often remains in the area until late April or early May until the spring and summer heat dries things out. It can be closed due to falling rocks and debris anytime. No phone reception out there.

Why were the Gilman tunnels built?

The route was part of the former Santa Fe Northwestern Railway (SFNW). It was used in the early 1900s to haul lumber from the Jemez. The railroad never fully recovered from the Great Wall Street Crash of 1929 and ceased operations in 1941 following flood damage from the Guadalupe River. The railway was eventually retired, which allowed the tunnels to be converted into one of New Mexico’s most photogenic and interesting stretches of road. They were named after William H. Gilman (one-time CEO of the SFNW Rail Road).

Is the road through Gilman tunnels worth it?

This is a remarkable road trip. Remember to bring your camera. It’s a two old large stone logging rail tunnel perched high above the Guadalupe River, offering stunning views of the box canyon and Jemez. After the second tunnel, you will find a beautiful waterfall and many rocks to climb around and rest on. This beautiful loop drive from the Elk Mountain Lodge is a must-do. This roadside attraction offers stunning views, both of the tunnels themselves and also of the beautiful box canyon and the Guadalupe River below. The Gilman Tunnels were used in the filming of at least three Hollywood movies: 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Lone Ranger (2013), and The Scorch Trials (2015).
Pic: Hector Cano F