Along New Mexico Highway 4, just an hour and a half from master-planned community Mariposa in Rio Rancho, lies Valles Caldera – an 88,900 acre preserve full of spectacular mountains, astonishing wildlife and swaying streams. Valles Caldera provides a perfect opportunity to take a day trip with outdoor adventures and picture-perfect views.
About Valles Caldera
Valles Caldera is located at the top of the Jemez Mountains in north-central New Mexico and is the nation’s newest National Preserve. The preserve houses a majority of the volcanic caldera from the volcanic eruption that occurred about 1.25 million years ago. The caldera is considered dormant but not extinct and still displays signs of life with its hot springs and bubbling sulphuric acid. Valles Caldera got its name from the scenery in the area. Valles, meaning valleys in Spanish and caldera, meaning boiling, describe the preserve perfectly as it is a picturesque view of grassland meadows surrounded by towering volcanic domes. Due to the contrast in environments and ecosystems that thrive in those atmospheres, patrons can be prepared to see copious rainfall, mixed conifer forests and plush soils to sustain the livelihood of diverse animals, plants and fungi including elks, mountain lions, bears and coyotes.
Things to Know
Before visiting Valles Caldera, it is important to note many things. The weather conditions are everchanging. Temperature extremes range from below 30 degrees all the way up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit; however, the standard temperatures are a low of 22 degrees Fahrenheit in January and a high of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in July. Patrons should also be wary of the wildlife around the preserve. Visitors should stay on designated trails for safety from various wildlife including bears and mountain lions. It is also important to note that the area is protected so there are very few opportunities to find everyday necessities. The nearest gas station is 20 miles away and there are limited restaurants and grocery stores, so be sure to pack snacks and make sure you have enough gas to complete your trip. Lastly, there is no lodging or WiFi available.
What to Bring/Wear
It is important to remember to wear sunscreen and sunglasses in order to protect yourself from the sun. You may also want to bring a hat for face and head protection. Do not underestimate the amount of water you will need. When spending all day in the outdoors with demanding activities, it is easy to get dehydrated. Make sure to bring extra water as well as bring snacks such as power bars or trail mix.
Cost and Fees
There is an entrance fee of $25 per vehicle. For those on foot, bike, horse, etc. there will be a $10 per person fee for anyone 16 and older. Commercial vehicles are also subject to entrance fees and there are a number of passes that are accepted to enter the park including a $45 annual pass for those who want to visit multiple times a year. Click here to learn more about fees and passes.
Valles Caldera National Preserve’s hours are split into two seasons. The summer hours begin on May 15 and end on Oct. 31. The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The winter hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Nov. 1 and ending May 14. Make sure to check the website for holiday time changes and closures. Learn more here.
Things to Do
There are countless activities available at Valles Caldera making it a wonderful place to visit for everyone in the group. The preserve offers everything from day hiking and fishing to mountain biking and horseback riding. Many rivers flow through the mountains of Valles Caldera making it an excellent fly fishing spot for both beginners and experts. There are also multiple trails within the preserve for those interested in hiking, biking and riding. For more information about things to do, click here.
To learn more about Valles Caldera, click here.
Looking for a new home or custom home site near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community situated just 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully-equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails and abundant open space and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://www.liveinmariposa.com/