Valle Caldera National Preserve, NM

Jemez Mountains
From White Rock Canyon we continued west on Highway 4 to the Valle Caldera National Preserve, a land area of 89,216 acres.  The Preserve is a unit of the National Forest System, covering most of the caldera but not all. It is located in northeastern Sandoval County and southern Rio Arriba County, just west of Los Alamos.

Jemez Mountains - scenic pass
Jemez Mountains nearing Valle Grande
Battleship Rock within Jemez Mountains

Valles Caldera (means "boiling valley") is a 13.7-mile (22.0 km) wide volcanic caldera in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico.  Hot springs, streams, fumaroles, natural gas seeps and volcanic domes dot the caldera floor landscape.  The highest point in the caldera is Redondo Peak, an 11,253-foot (3,430 m) resurgent lava dome located entirely within the caldera. Also within the caldera are several grass valleys the largest of which is Valle Grande the only one accessible by a paved road.

View of "Big Valley"
Renondo Peak in distance
Valle Grande info sign
A few movies have been filmed at Valles Caldera including:
  • 1971 Shoot Out with Gregory Peck
  • 1977 Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion (TV) w/ Leif Garrett (TK love Leif Garrett!)
  • 1982 The Gambler (TV) with Kenny Rogers
  • 1994 Troublemakers with Terence Hill
  • 1995 Buffalo Girls (TV) with Anjelica Huston
  • 1997 Last Stand at Saber River (TV) with Tom Selleck
  • 2003 The Missing with Tommy Lee Jones
  • 2007 Seraphim Falls with Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan

  • Jemez Waterfall
    After viewing the Valle Grande we continued through the Jemez Mountains and took a short (15 minute) hike to Jemez Waterfall which is just 3 miles off of National Scenic Route NM 4.  The falls are located at an altitude of 7,880 ft above sea level and the river drops 70 feet through a spectacular series of falls. The falls are spectacular and well worth the short hike.  The trail takes you to an overlook at the top of the falls but we just hiked to a point where we could see the falls and take pictures.  We believe there may be hot springs at the top of the falls.

    Pines near Jemez Waterfall
    Full view of Jemez Waterfall
    Pools from Jemez Waterfall


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