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Valles Caldera National Preserve

Wildlife Viewing Area
Looking into the Preserve from a free hiking trail. – Rourke McDermott

This 89,000 acre National Preserve is in the heart of one of three super volcanoes in the United States. Know for its expansive high mountain valles, large elk herds, and diverse history, the Preserve is a favorite among the locals when friends and relatives are in town. If you are in New Mexico you do not want to miss this.

Having the second largest elk herd in the State is a big draw. There are several pullouts off Highway 4 to see elk from. The Valle Grande is 4 miles across in some places, and can make you second guess what you are seeing. When the visitor information center is open you can drive two miles into the Valle Grande and get a little closer to the wildlife. Various tours are offered daily and reservations are not required.

September - October is the mating season, and it is very common to see and hear the elk then. Occasionally elk fights can even be seen.

You can also see at

Best Months and Seasons for Viewing

September and October are the best, but you can see them from May - November

Best Time for Viewing

Within two hours of sunrise or sunset

Pet Friendly Notes

Leashed pets are welcome at the Visitor Information Center, but are not allowed elsewhere on the Preserve. Registered assistance dogs are welcome.

Nearby Places