Trip Planner USA  /  New Mexico  /  Jemez Springs  /  Wildlife Areas  /  Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Springs

Categories: Wildlife Areas, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.8/5 based on 220+ reviews on the web
The Valles Caldera National Preserve is a national preserve located in northeastern Sandoval County and southern Rio Arriba County, just west of Los Alamos. It protects a large portion of the Valles Caldera, an area of significant geological, ecological and cultural interest. It has a land area of 89216acre and until 2015 was administered by the Valles Caldera Trust with offices in Jemez Springs. In 2014 legislation attached to the Defense Authorization Act authorized the transfer of the preserve to the National Park Service and dissolution of the Valles Caldera Trust. The transfer to NPS management took place on October 10, 2015.BackgroundThe Valles Caldera Preservation Act of 2000 signed by President Clinton on July 25, 2000, created the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP). The legislation provided for the federal purchase of the land, previously the privately held Baca ranch. The surface estate of 95000acre and seven-eighths of the geothermal mineral estate were purchased by the federal government for $101 million. Funds for the purchase were obtained through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) from federal government royalties received from offshore petroleum and natural gas drilling. Some areas of the Baca Ranch are of cultural significance to Native Americans. Accordingly, 5000acre of the purchase were obtained by the Santa Clara Pueblo, which borders the property to the northeast. These include the headwaters of Santa Clara Creek, considered sacred by the Pueblo. On the southwest corner of the land 300acre were to be ceded to Bandelier National Monument.
Put Valles Caldera National Preserve into our Jemez Springs vacation builder to see other points of interest to visit during your vacation in Jemez Springs.
Create a full itinerary - for free!
going to
read all reviews »
  • We've been wanting to hike and fly fish in the Caldera ever since moving to NM but up until about a year ago, it was difficult to gain access. Since being acquired by the National Park Service, it's m...  read more »
  • My wife and I have never visited a National Park site we did not like. Valles Caldera is one of the newest. We have seen the caldera when it was not a NPS site but did not go in. Now we can drive in a...  read more »
  • If you like wilderness areas, this is definitely worthwhile traveling to from Los Alamos. Be sure to take advantage of the amenities in Los Alamos, as this is a windy, remote drive to and from the cal...  read more »
  • There is not one thing that stands out here- not in a bad way. It is just beautiful. It is a great area to enjoy nature and the beauty of Northern New Mexico. I was blown away with just the stunning beauty of nature here. I am glad to see it is now federal land and protected. Highly recommend going to spend some time there and
  • Beautiful place. We saw a lot of bluebirds, sparrows, and Prairie dogs. Unfortunately, we didn't see any elk this time. But it's beautiful. If you would like to have a longer walk, you might want to get there earlier. Besides the trails near the visitor center, you need to drive your own vehicle, and there's a 35 daily cap for private vehicle to pass the visitor center.
  • I was introduced to valleys caldera through the tv series " Longmire". Always wandering where the main character s house was. It was so beautiful when he had his coffee in the morning and overlooking the land in front of his house. Well I found out when I drove my car from Cuba,NM, to the Valle's Caldera. Need a four wheeler to do that trip.
  • Valles Caldera is one of my favorite spots on this planet... It is the epitome of wide open spaces; pure, beautiful, and remote. I love to hike the Coyote Call Trail in the morning before the preserve opens. I've been on many of the van rides and elk tours and have always had a great time and have been treated well by the friendly and knowledgeable staff. There are a lot of places to hike here, though I recommend a high-ish clearance vehicle for the dirt road. My favorite hike is La Garita, the north rim of the caldera, especially in the summer with the wildflowers!
  • This is a fantastic place. The Valle Grande is a huge bowl made by a ancient volcano that has collapsed in. Millions of years ago there was a lake here. You can see Elk in the mornings and evenings when the snow is gone. You can get a pass to drive into the interior of the vast property. Do not miss a drive into the preserve if you are in the area. You will not be sorry you did. There is a graded dirt road of about a mile and a half to get to the visit staging area. There are van tours. Check their website for more info. It's a paradise!!! Many shows have been filmed in this area.
Nearby Attractions
Visit for 2​h 30​m
Visit for 2​h 30​m
Visit for 2​h 30​m
Visit for 3​h
Visit for 3​h
Visit for 2​h 30​m
Visit for 2​h 30​m
Visit for 2​h 30​m