Valles Caldera National Preserve

Santa Fe Region

Ever wondered what the crater of a dormant supervolcano looks like 1.25 million years after it first blows? At Valles Caldera, the prehistoric explosion was so massive, some 95 cubic miles of pumice, ash and magma was sent into the atmosphere. Home to New Mexico's second largest elk herd, the 13.7-mile-wide caldera now consists of volcanic domes and vast meadows that contain miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails in summer and snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails in winter.

There are no paved roads; a 4WD vehicle is recommended in snow and rain. In summer, 35 free daily permits are available for backcountry access for vehicles.

The temporary entrance station visitor center (8am to 6pm mid-May to October, to 5pm the rest of the year) is 2 miles from the entrance on Hwy 4. Once a parking lot is finished, the visitor center will be 4 miles from the highway.