Friday, July 26, 2019

Valles Caldera Backcountry Open to Motorists

Editors note: The backcountry is open this summer too but you'll need a fishing and vehicle permit from the NPS to go angling. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit their website for more info.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve’s backcountry is open again to motorists this summer providing free access to prime fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.

“The public enjoys the convenience of driving into the preserve,” says Kimberly DeVall, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Park Service’s preserve in the Jemez Mountains. “And we’re happy to be able to provide them that opportunity so they can enjoy all the preserve has to offer.” 

The backcountry normally opens up by mid-May but was delayed until just recently this season due to road repairs, says DeVall.

The preserve issues up to 35 backcountry motor vehicle permits daily to motorists visiting the 89,000 acre preserve. The permits are issued on a first come, first served basis at no cost. The preserve is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. No permits will be issued after 3:30 p.m. and all motorists must check out by 5:30 p.m. There is no camping available on the preserve.

DeVall says they rarely run out of permits during the week but on the weekends they tend to go quickly.

Visitors will find 26 miles of dirt and gravel roads to travel within the vast backcountry featuring plenty of hiking and biking trails and great fishing on San Antonio and Jaramillo Creeks. No pets are allowed in the backcountry.

A recent visit to the preserve during the week revealed only a handful of vehicles in the backcountry and most of them belonged to anglers. Motorist must remain on established roads and park in only in designated areas. Portable toilets are provided.

The two backcountry creeks flow through great, open meadows and are noted for their deep undercut banks where trout can hide. A two fish bag limit is in effect on the preserve, a valid state license is required and only artificial flies and lures with single, barbless hooks are permitted. Waders are not needed but a good hat, long sleeves and plenty of sunscreen and bug repellant is recommended. Fishing supplies and groceries can be purchased in the nearby town of La Cueva.

Some visitors to the preserve may enjoy just driving into the backcountry for some sightseeing and a picnic. San Antonio Cabin is a scenic spot with picnic tables for use and visitors are reminded to clean up after themselves.

The preserve also is home to many wildlife species including elk, bear, coyote, eagles and turkeys and the best viewing opportunities are in the morning and evening.

The preserve can be found off N.M.4 between Jemez Springs and Los Alamos. For more information about the Valles Caldera National Preserve please their website at or call the preserve at 575-829-4100.

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