Valles Caldera National Preserve protects 89,766 acres of the volcanic Jemez mountains west of Santa Fe and the Rio Grande in north central New Mexico. It encompasses most of the gigantic caldera at the heart of the massive volcano that is the Jemez Mountains. The Preserve was established by Congress in 2000 with an experimental structure that created a trust to purchase a 95,000-acre privately held ranch. Small portions were incorporated into Bandelier National Monument and Santa Clara Pueblo. The rest was held by the trust until 2015 when it was transferred to the National Park Service.
Late in the afternoon of November 13 , Sean and I drove the twisting, somewhat frightening road from Bandelier National Monument’s Frijoles Canyon to the heart of the volcano.
In November 2021, the Land Trust Alliance sent Bold Bison (my business partner, Patrick, and me) to Texas for ten days to conduct thirty-three video interviews with the staffs, boards, and supporters of seven land conservation organizations (land trusts) across the state. This whirlwind trip took us to Plano, Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso with the ultimate goal of a video portrait of conservation work across the Lone Star State.
The business trip’s conclusion at the far western tip of Texas coincided with the approach of my birthday. So Sean and I decided to roll my being in El Paso with a birthday trip to White Sands National Park and a long weekend in Santa Fe. I hoped to pick up a few other Park Service sites while we were there (Pecos National Historical Park, Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera National Preserve, Petroglyph National Monument).