Valles Caldera National Preserve

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Among the newest additions to the National Park System, the 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve encompasses a caldera formed by volcanic eruptions 1.25 million years ago that possesses exceptional value in illustrating and interpreting massive explosive volcanic eruptions, caldera formation, and the functioning of active geothermal systems. Its distinct topographic mosaic of expansive valley meadows, or valles (va-yes) in Spanish, lush forested volcanic domes, meandering valley streams, and old growth Ponderosa pine groves are in striking contrast to the arid New Mexico landscape at lower elevations.

Patient observers can spot numerous wildlife species such as elk, coyotes, prairie dogs, black bears, bald and golden eagles, wild turkeys, and other migratory birds. History buffs can travel back in time and experience the pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer heritage and learn how the legacy of early Spanish and Mexican settlement in the region transformed the present-day American Southwest.

Recreational activities include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, scenic drives, as well as crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Valles Caldera National Preserve enchants visitors with its stunning natural beauty and rich human history.

Visit Valles Caldera Website


Los Amigos de Valles Caldera manages the Valle Grande Bookstore located within the Entrance Station. Visitors can find snacks, drinks, books, and souvenirs of their trip to the park.

At this time Valles Caldera does not have any established campgrounds or backcountry camping permits available. Visitor services are limited. Please come prepared with food, water, and other essentials.

Backcountry Access

Some of unique adventures take place in Valles Caldera’s backcountry. Visitors will find ample opportunities to hikemountain bikehorseback ridefishcrosscountry skisnowshoe, and view wildlife.

Visitors can access the backcountry by foot, mountain bike, horseback, or personal vehicle. For those accessing by personal vehicle or horse, a backcountry vehicle permit or equestrian permit is required. A permit is not needed if accessing by foot, mountain bike, skis, or snowshoes.

At this time Valles Caldera does not have any established campgrounds or backcountry camping permits available.

Backcountry Vehicle Permit

Up to 35 backcountry vehicle permits will be available each day during the summer season (mid-May thru October) as conditions allow. In addition, five backcountry vehicle same day permits will be released at the Entrance Station at 10 a.m.

Given the limited number of permits available each day, it is very likely the permits will be issued out early, especially on weekends.

Ranger-Led Activities

Your visit can be more enjoyable when you better understand the environment around you. Valles Caldera offers interpretive programs, guided hikes, guided snowshoe hikes, and ranger talks in various locations throughout the year. Program schedules and activities offered vary with the seasons. Valles Caldera offers the widest variety and number of ranger-led programs from mid-May through September. When you arrive, check with staff at the Valle Grande Entrance Station and bulletin board for program details or schedule changes.

View Ranger Led Activities