Caldera Moon. Photo by Dan Williams
Jemez Springs – Nightlife and new activities highlight the attractions at the Valles Caldera National Preserve this summer. It all begins this weekend with the Family Fun & Games Campfire Program and Summer Twilight events.
Once a month Preserve hours of operation will extend to as late as 10 p.m. so visitors can enjoy the Preserve after dark. The Family Fun & Games Campfire program will provide free stories, games and activities for children of all ages.
Those same nights visitors can hike, mountain bike or fish the East Fork of the Jemez River until closing. New for 2014 are the Bike Camp Bike and Ride Camp Ride programs for mountain bikers and equestrian riders. There are four loops available for equestrian rides ranging in length from 2.5 to 12 miles. All trails meander through forested terrain, across or around large meadows on established logging roads with easy footing. The reservation packages include Saturday and Sunday of riding the Preserve and Saturday night camping at the Banco Bonito Staging Area.
Five Ranch Road Rambles will give visitors the opportunity to take a self guided tour of the Preserve from the comfort of their own vehicles. Each ramble has been expanded to accommodate 24 vehicles for the 2.5 hour drive. The first is scheduled for May 28 followed by rambles the final Wednesday of every month through Sept. 24.
The fishing program will run May 16 through Oct. 12. Anglers looking to improve their skills can make reservations for one of the three youth or adult fly fishing clinics held the third weekend in June, July and August.
Free hiking, van tours and education events are available this season. Our popular wildlife, elk and geology tours are back. We also have several guided hikes for people interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of the Preserve.
One-hour van tours and several short hikes are tailored for visitors just passing through the region. Those with a little more time can take advantage of programs in the back country.
The Preserve is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week starting Friday, May 16 through Oct. 12. For more details about all Valles Caldera recreation programs or to make reservations, visit http://www.vallescaldera.gov/comevisit/ or call 1.866.382-5537.
Other Special Events:
- Earth Skills Gathering: May 24-25. This free event will let you see primitive skills being demonstrated by regional experts (fire making, knapping, beadwork, etc.).
- Valles Caldera Preservation Act Celebration: July 25-27. This free event celebrates our “anniversary.”
- Jemez Valley Storytellers Jamboree: July 26. This free event features storytellers from around New Mexico.
- Photo Adventures: July 15-17, Sept.19-21. For three days and two nights Photo Adventure lottery winners will be able to roam the high mountain meadows, large valleys and deep forests that are the Preserve.
- Jemez Mountains Elk Festival: Sept. 25-27. This free, four-day event celebrates New Mexico’s second largest elk herd which makes the Jemez home.
Elk herd. Courtesy/VCNP
We encourage visitors to participate in our scheduled activities when possible. For groups of 10 or more, we can explore options that allow your group to experience the Preserve together. Call 505.428.7737, for more information.
Elk calf. Courtesy/VCNP
Educational School Programs
We are taking reservations for school groups to visit and explore the Preserve this fall and next spring. We have educational programs for grades K-12. To reserve your date or to get more information, call 505.629.1418.
Our programs are successful because of the quality and number of people who help out. We are always looking for help with the events described above as well as with answering visitor questions in our stores and pullouts. There are even opportunities to lead events. If you are a dependable person and want to spend some of your valuable time helping the Preserve, email firstname.lastname@example.org.