Located in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, the Valles Caldera National Preserve is located on the ancestral land of many Native American tribes. The caldera was created around 1.25 million years ago by a volcanic eruption that left a nearly 14-mile hollow. Since its creation was volcanic in nature, the Valles Caldera was left full of obsidian, which Native Americans like the Navajo used to fashion spear points. Many Spanish and Mexican settlers passed through the area as well to graze their cattle alongside the Navajo, which caused many clashes between the groups. Acquired by the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, the Valles Caldera soon became the site of the Indian Wars, as well as a place for ranching and logging. Nowadays, thousands of visitors from all around the world flock to the Valles Caldera National Preserve to view prehistoric dwellings and various wildlife.
RV Parks & Campgrounds Near Valles Caldera National Preserve
Using an RV to traverse the Valles Caldera is a great way to take in all of the sights. Since the caldera stretches almost 14 miles, it's a smart decision to camp nearby so you can explore the park for multiple days rather than doing one jam-packed day. RVshare is the ideal way to rent an RV because it's all the fun of an RV trip without the commitment of owning an RV.
RV Rentals Near Valles Caldera National Preserve
Things To Do Near Valles Caldera National Preserve
Before you head out into the Valles Caldera National Preserve, be sure to grab a $25 day pass for your vehicle to join the 120,000 travelers that enter the park every year. Many people go to enjoy fishing, hiking, biking, and the immense history. Fish for trout in the Jemez River or Jaramillo Creek or enjoy cross country skiing during the winter months.
La Jara Loop
This quick hike circles the Cerro la Jara lava dome and passes through a prairie dog colony. In addition to being pet friendly, you'll catch great views of South Mountain and Valle Grande. In the spring and summer months, you'll be able to see wildflowers growing across the lava dome.
39201 NM-4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
1.5 miles round trip
El Cajete Loop
At an elevation of around 8500 feet, the El Cajete Loop takes you to its namesake meadow, which is known as one of the prettiest in the entire Valle Caldera. If water is flowing through the El Cajete Loop, you should not try to hike the trail. Many hikers find that the trail is best hiked in a clockwise manner.
Gate VC02, Valle Grande Contact Station, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
9.4 miles round trip
Sulphur & Alamo Canyons Loop
Before you go hiking on this trail, you'll want to make sure that you have a GPS device of some sort. Following Sulphur Creek, the Sulphur and Alamo Canyons Loop will take you through an old sulfur mining area and eventually to the Valle Seco. Once you climb the ridge at Valle Seco, the trail will take you down to the Alamo Canyons. This trail is unique because it allows visitors to see geothermal springs. Much like the El Cajete Loop, taking on this trail clockwise is your best bet.
Gate VC08, near the junction of Sulphur Creek Road/Forest Road 105 and NM 4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
12.2 miles round trip
Spence Hot Springs
The Spence Hot Springs consist of two small pools overlooking the Jemez canyons. For a majority of the year, the Spence Hot Springs remain around 95 degrees. And yes, you're more than welcome to swim in the hot springs.
Jemez Springs, NM 87025
While blasting through rock in the 1920s to transport timber through the Jemez Mountains, the Gilman Tunnels were created. Even though logging in the area ended in the late 1940s, the passageways still remain.
11 miles south from Jemez Springs via Hwy 4 along NM 485
Jemez Historical Site
Between Bernalillo and Albuquerque, the Jemez Historical Site features a small museum alongside preserved prehistoric and historic New Mexican sites. You can look at the 700-year-old stone village ruins as well as explore the San José de Los Jemez church, a Catholic church built in 1621. Adventure further into the San Diego Canyon and explore the village of Giusewa. In the museum, you can view interpretative histories of the Jemez people, both past and present.
18160 NM-4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
Nearby Shops and Restaurants
Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon
Looking like a set straight out of an old Western movie, the Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon offers American and New Mexican style breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Live music is available on the weekends.
17596 NM-4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
Jemez Stage Stop
For original New Mexican eats, Jemez Stage Stop is for you. Gluten-free options are available, and dishes like chile stew are local favorites. Local music is also featured.
17607 NM-4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
Aspen Ridge Alpacas
This working alpaca ranch produces handmade alpaca wool products, as well as hosting workshops throughout the year. Various events are fun for the entire family.
790 Aspen Dr. Jemez Springs, NM 87025
How To Get To Valles Caldera National Preserve
To get to the Valles Caldera National Preserve from Santa Fe, head north on Highway 84-285. Once you reach the town of Pojoaque, there will be signs directing you toward Los Alamos and Highway 502. If you follow Highway 4, all you have to do is follow signs to the Jemez Mountains. Otherwise, continue through Los Alamos until you see the Bandelier National Monument. Turn away from Bandelier to the right and head into the Jemez Mountains. Even though the busy season is from May until October, the Valles Caldera National Preserve is open year-round. Different entrances and times will be available depending on the season, so it's best to contact the park with any questions. As of writing, all park fees are currently waived. However, certain groups may have fees apply to them.
39200 Highway 4, Jemez Springs, NM 87025
Fee: Seven Day Pass for any noncommercial vehicle $25
Fee: Seven Day Pass for bicyclists, horseback riders, and buses (per person) $15
Fee: Commercial Sedan $25
Fee: Commercial Van $40
Fee: Commercial Mini-Bus $100
Those who visit the Valles Caldera National Preserve do so to see the convergence of the prehistoric and the present, through nature and infrastructure. Here you can literally hike back in time to millennia ago with stunning views and untouched wildlife. With an RV trip, you can immerse yourself even further into the culture and beauty of Jemez Springs and the Valles Caldera National Preserve.