Valles Caldera; NM’s gorgeous national preserve

 

IMG_5096

By Caitlin Kelly

The silence!

Only broken by….the squeaks of dozens of prairie dogs, the first time I’d ever seen one.

 

IMG_5123

 

A caldera is the bowl-like depression in the landscape after a volcanic eruption — in this case 1.25 millions years ago, 300 times larger than Mount St. Helens in 1980. Valles Caldera is one of the world’s best examples of an intact volcanic caldera.

 

IMG_5141

 

Since then, of course, the land was inhabited by natives and later (after 1500) by Spanish settlers.

 

IMG_5094

 

The site contains a few log cabins, from 1915 to 1963, but no one is allowed to stay in the park overnight although hiking and skiing in winter are allowed.

 

IMG_5150

 

It’s a stunning place in its scale and also gave me my first sightings of wild iris and elk — we could only see a large herd of elk thanks to a telescope offered by the park rangers.

The caldera is about a 90 minute drive northwest of Santa Fe.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Valles Caldera; NM’s gorgeous national preserve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s