The Southwest’s super-volcano!

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Say “supervolcano” and “national park” and, naturally, “Yellowstone!” springs to mind. But there’s another remarkable crater in the national park system–Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico.

The 89,000-acre site has been a federal reserve for a long time but just over a month ago the National Park Service took over its management. The 13-mile-wide depression is what remains of a cataclysmic volcanic eruption roughly 1.25 million years ago and it is one of the world’s largest calderas.

Within its walls, ranging from a few hundred feet to more than 2,000 feet, is an otherworldly preserve. Sprawling mountain meadows, surging streams, a diversity of wildlife (including the second largest elk herd in the state), and a captivating human history place it at the top of my list of places to explore more in-depth during the NPS centennial next year. Camping, hiking, fishing, mountain biking and more are all options at Valles Caldera.

Learn more about Valles Caldera National Preserve.

Photo courtesy NPS.

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Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service.