Nestled on the foothills of the Jemez mountains, to the west of Los Alamos, NM, and about 50 miles from Santa Fe, NM, Valles Caldera National Preserve is perfect when you’re planning to camp in an RV in the state of New Mexico. The beautiful national preserve is popular among motorhome camping enthusiasts mainly due to its boundless grass meadows, eye-catching volcanic lava mounds, and lots of geological wonders.
Adjacent to the Valles Caldera National Preserve is the Bandelier National Monument. The monument preserves the remains and homes of the ancestral Pueblo people, which lie on the rock-strewn canyon. To explore more of northern New Mexico, search for an RV in Los Alamos and have the time of your life RV camping at state parks.
Sprawling over 89,216 acres of land, Valles Caldera National Preserve encloses the Valles Caldera, a 13.7 miles wide crater. Open year-round, the preserve is a good place for wildlife watching as its home to various endangered wildlife such as Gunnison prairie dogs, elks, and bobcats. In addition to wildlife viewing, visitors frequent this preserve for fishing, swimming, and skiing. The preserve is found within the confines of the vast Santa Fe National Forest, a protected preserve covering two mountain ranges. The National Forest attracts adventurers from far and wide due to its fantastic hiking, hunting, and rock climbing. Book a camper near Valles Caldera National Preserve and tour the region at your own pace.
While camping at Valles Caldera National Preserve, you’ll be spoilt for choice over the range of activities to partake in the preserve. Remember to carry a fishing rod as the San Antonio Creek and the East Fork of the Jemez River’s banks offer great fly fishing opportunities for trout fish. After getting some fish, change into your swimwear and have an impressive hot-water swim at the Spence Hot Springs.
When it comes to hunting, hunters RV camping at Valles Caldera National Preserve will not be disappointed. Since the preserve is surrounded by a couple of national forests bursting with wildlife, it’s one of the best spots for hunting in the region. Besides elk, the forests are teeming with wild turkeys. Hunting is usually done by archery or a muzzleloader.
Hiking is also a big thing at Valles Caldera National Preserve. To get epic Valles Caldera and Bandelier National Monument views, have a go at the 2.9 miles moderate Coyote Call Trail Loop near Jemez Springs. Should you be a waterfall lover, then you can take the easy Jemez Falls Trail that leads right to the stunning Jemez Falls. The nearby Pajarito Mountain offers skiing and snowboarding during winter.
Camping at Valles Caldera National Preserve
When looking for a suitable spot to camp in an RV near Valles Caldera National Preserve, Jemez Falls Campground is one of the RV parks to consider. The campground is surrounded by gorgeous ponderosa pines and forest meadows offering guests with shade and an all-round tranquil environment. Even though no hookups are provided, this dog-friendly campground provides safe drinking water, vault toilets, and fire rings. For recreation, visitors have access to fishing, bicycling, and hiking.
An alternative worth checking out is the San Antonio Campground, which has electric hookups on some of the campsites. Other amenities include firewood, grills, and picnic tables. The campground is located along the San Antonio River, providing guests with beautiful river views. There is a paved walking path along the river, which is awesome for fishing and wildlife viewing. Other recreational activities include non-motorized boating, stargazing, and horseback riding.
Exploring the Area
When your time exploring Valles Caldera National Preserve is almost over, venture beyond the preserve’s boundaries to check out more attractions. The Museum of International Folk Art, which displays tons of cultural exhibits, is a must-visit whenever you’re in the area. Once you’ve had enough of the museum, drive your rental RV to the Palace of the Governors' building for a political history session. This building, which was constructed in 1610 using Pueblo revival architecture, is one of the oldest continuously occupied structures in the country. Later, hop into the New Mexico History Museum for a brief New Mexico’s war history.
In case you didn't get enough of skiing in the Pajarito Mountains, pass by Ski Santa Fe, at the Sangre de Christo Mountains. Later, take a guided Curated Canyon Road Art Tour and learn more about the art pieces while interacting with the local artists. Discover Santa Fe’s vibrant food scene by taking part in the Santa Fe’s food tours. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the Santa Fe’s chocolate tours.
Should the kids have tagged along, point your Santa Fe camper rental towards the Meow Wolf. Featuring mysterious narratives and unique art demonstrations, this local gem has everything to keep the young ones busy. You can also visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to capture stunning photos of the striking cathedral. Follow it up with a tour of the Loretto Chapel, where you’ll see the spiral staircase built without nails. If time allows, make a stop at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, a place with spectacular canyons.
Valles Caldera National Preserve, NM is the perfect spot to start your next road trip.
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