At the heart of the Jemez Mountain region, the Valles Caldera National Preserve contains a stunning and unique mix of grasslands, forested mountains, and geologic features found nowhere else in the American Southwest. The land sustains one of the country's largest wild elk herds and provides habitat for a wide range of other wildlife, including 17 threatened or endangered species, and such animals as the black bear, mountain lion, goshawk, peregrine falcon and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. The new preserve also encompasses most of the Valles Caldera, a massive crater more than a half-mile deep and 15 miles wide that was created by a huge volcanic eruption more than a million years ago. Secondary volcanic domes arise from the caldera floor, including Redondo Peak, which climbs to more than 11,000 feet. Hot springs occur in the west-central part of the caldera and reflect the relative nearness of molten rock to the surface. Geologists have used Valles Caldera as a model for unraveling the history of many other volcanic eruptions around the world.
The Valles Caldera National Preserve is managed by a nine-member Valles Caldera Trust. Trustees, appointed by the President, include the supervisor of Sante Fe National Forest and the superintendent of Bandalier National Monument, both of which are adjacent to Baca. The seven other Trustees will include experts in such areas as wildlife conservation, sustainable resource use, and cultural and historic preservation. Under the legislation, management principles require resource protection; allow for sustainable resource use, including logging and grazing; and call for the ranch to be as financially self-sustaining as possible, consistent with other management requirements.
Directions: Take NM-4 13 miles west from the entrance to Bandelier National Monument or an equivalent distance via NM-501 and NM-4 from the town of Los Alamos.
Birds of the New Mexico high mountains (southern rocky mountains) found here include Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Band-tailed Pigeon, Stellar's Jay, Gray Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Tanager, House Wren, Hairy Woodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Townsend's Solitaire, MacGillivray's Warbler, Green-tailed Towhee, Band-tailed Pigeon, White-throated Swift, and Red Crossbill. Red-tailed Hawk and Turkey Vulture can be seen overhead. Occasionally a Zone-tailed Hawk from nearby Bandelier National Monument can be seen. The caldera contains an isolated breeding population of Eastern Meadowlark.
Sources: New Mexico Breeding Bird Atlas Work on the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP): Summary of 2002 and 2003 Observations, Stephen M. Fettig; Breeding Bird Survey Route 60059.
American Dipper, 98-00, Resident, 1 individual
Hammond's Flycatcher, 98-00, Breeding, 1 individual average, 2 individual maximum
Dusky Flycatcher, 98-00, Unknown, 1 individual average, 1 individual maximum
Pygmy Nuthatch, 98-00, Resident, 2 individuals average, 6 individuals maximum
Western Bluebird, 98-00, Resident, 3 individuals average, 4 individuals maximum
Townsend's Solitaire, 98-00, Breeding, 2 individuals average, 4 individuals maximum
Clark's Nutcracker, 98-00, Resident, 2 individuals average, 7 individuals maximum
Plumbeous Vireo, 98-00, Breeding, 3 individuals average, 5 individuals maximum
Virginia's Warbler, 98-00, Breeding, 7 individuals average, 11 individuals maximum
Grace's Warbler, 98-00, Breeding, 11 individuals average, 22 individuals maximum
Northern Goshawk, 02-03, NMBBA
Blue Grouse, 02-03, NMBBA
Flammulated Owl, 02-03, NMBBA
Lewis's Woodpecker, 02-03, NMBBA
Red-naped Sapsucker, 02-03, NMBBA
Williamson's Sapsucker, 02-03, NMBBA
Olive-sided Flycatcher, 02-03, NMBBA
Hammond's Flycatcher, 02-03, NMBBA
Dusky Flycatcher, 02-03, NMBBA
Cordilleran Flycatcher, 02-03, NMBBA
Plumbeous Vireo, 02-03, NMBBA
Clark's Nutcracker, 02-03, NMBBA
Pygmy Nuthatch, 02-03, NMBBA
American Dipper, 02-03, NMBBA
Western Bluebird, 02-03, NMBBA
Mountain Bluebird, 02-03, NMBBA
Townsend's Solitaire, 02-03, NMBBA
Virginia's Warbler, 02-03, NMBBA
Black-throated Gray Warbler, 02-03, NMBBA
Grace's Warbler, 02-03, NMBBA
MacGillivray's Warbler, 02-03, NMBBA
Green-tailed Towhee, 02-03, NMBBA
Santa Fe National Forest, 1474 Rodeo Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505, 505-438-7840
Valles Caldera National Preserve,2201 Trinity Drive, Los Alamos, NM 87544, 505-661-3333
Recreational uses include hiking, birdwatching, fishing.