Opportunity Rover Heading Our Way


New Mexico on the map…of Mars, but still good.

With names like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos, and a giant crater the size of the Valles Caldera, future maps of the planet Mars will contain a lot of names familiar to the people of New Mexico. Suggested by a member of the Mars Rover team based in New Mexico, the names are of cities and locales along the legendary El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and are being used to name features visited by the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity during an important phase of its mission.

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Where and How to Get In and Where and How and What to Access Once You’re In the Valles Caldera National Preserve Summer and Winter

Preserve Entrances:
Valles Caldera has one vehicular entrance, two trailhead entrances, and one special use permit entrance. Currently the preserve entrances are restricted to seasonal and daily hours of operation. Access through the Valles Caldera along NM Highway 4 is available year-round at any time. Make sure to carefully read about access at each entrance at different times of year.


Valle Grande Entrance (main entrance)
Located off NM Highway 4 near mile marker 39.2, this is the main entrance into the Valles Caldera National Preserve. Access by vehicle, hiking, biking, skiing, and snowshoeing are allowed through this entrance.
Coyote Call Trailhead
Located off NM Highway 4 near mile marker 40.8, this entrance provides access to trails located in the southeast corner of the preserve. Access by hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing only are allowed through this entrance.
Valle Grande Trailhead
Located off NM Highway 4 near mile marker 42.8, this entrance provides access to trails located in the southeast corner of the preserve. Access by hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing only are allowed through this entrance.
Banco Bonito Entrance
Located off NM Highway 4 near mile marker 30, this entrance provides access to trails located in the southwest corner of the preserve. Access by special use permit only.


Night Sky Observation Event Offered in Valles Caldera



Photo Jim Stein Photography

Night sky hanging over the Valle Grande.


The Valles Caldera offers some of the darkest skies in our area and is a great place to get a better look at the night sky on clear nights.

The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) working with the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VALL) offers a night sky observation event on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. PEEC astronomers Galen Gisler, Dave North, Akkana Peck, and Rick Wallace along with VALL park rangers will point out constellations, planets, and other celestial objects with the help of telescopes and lasers.

They will use lasers to reveal constellations and other celestial objects visible to the naked eye and also set up telescopes to give a closer look at planets, star clusters, and celestial objects visible that night.

This event is free to the public, aside from the VALL entrance fee. No registration is required. To attend, meet at the Valles Caldera National Preserve Visitor Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. For more information about this and other Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) programs, visit www.peecnature.org, emailprograms@peecnature.org or call (505) 662-0460.



National Parks Senior Pass Prices Increase


It’s official, Senior Pass prices are going up August 28th. An annual, and lifetime pass with be available for $20 and $80 respectively.

On August 28, 2017, the price of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase for the first time since 1994. The additional revenue will be used to enhance the visitor experience in parks. Learn more about the changes, what they mean for you, and how the additional funds will be used.

Why is the price of the Senior Pass increasing?

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Minor Delays as Valles Caldera Makes Improvements to Main Entrance Road



Valles Caldera National Preserve will begin making improvements to the preserve’s main entrance road starting next Tuesday. The road improvement work is being implemented using Congressional funding provided to the National Park Service to reduce its deferred maintenance backlog. Visitors can expect minor traffic delays and congestion while the road work occurs over the next two to three weeks.

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Snow Storm Forecast in the Valles Caldera

By Ranger Christina


Main entrance and contact station will be closed today, February 28 due to severe winter conditions.

Over the next 24 hours, the main entrance of the preserve is forecasted to receive anywhere between 6 to 12 inches of snow with winds gusting at 15 mph! For the safety of staff and visitors, the main entrance and contact station will be closed Tuesday, February 28th in anticipation of this severe winter weather. The preserve will reopen Wednesday, March 1st at 9 AM if conditions allow. We apologize for any inconveniences this has caused.

Let it snow!


It’s Alive (SB286)!

Mary Katherine Ray


Last Tuesday in the Senate Conservation Committee heard SB 286, the bill to ban traps and poisons from public land. After impassioned testimony from the public, the senators on the committee discussed elements of the bill. Most of that discussion centered on technical questions about the penalties the bill would impose on violators, about which agency would enforce infractions and on which public lands the state has the ability to restrict traps. Then, rather than voting on the bill, the committee unexpectedly directed the sponsor to come up with a committee substitute bill that would address these questions. (You can watch a webcast of the entire hearing here

So in the end, no vote was taken. This means the bill is not dead. In fact, this is the first time in the history of this bill that a legislative committee actually discussed its provisions and did not table it!
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A Rare Sight in the Valles Caldera

By R.W.

Image of the East Fork in the Valles Caldera from video by Ranger Christina of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.


Climate change skeptics must rejoice these days, since climate change data is no longer tumbling down upon us together with the early run off from the mountains. We can take the administration’s assertion that it is all a Chinese hoax, accept the New Alternative Truth and welcome the demise of methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutant regulations.

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2017 Fee-Free Days in National Parks Locally and Nationwide

By Chris Judson



Photo NPS

Frijoles Canyon in Bandelier National Monument.


Anyone wanting to stretch their travel budget to be able to visit the greatest number America’s very best places, should be sure to consider the 10 days this year when all National Park Service areas are fee free – no entrance fees! In the Los Alamos area, that includes both Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park (NHP), in downtown Los Alamos, has no entrance fee.


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