Valles Caldera National Preserve--Entrance Station

Tips for Birding

Once you get to the entrance station and parking area, there are a couple of ways to bird the general area. The stables are good for sparrows, blackbirds, and swallows, and there is a short trail that departs from the east end of the stables and heads north toward the biggest pond in the Valle Grande, which can have waterfowl. Grassland birds are often abundant on that trail. You can get a permit online to have access to the backcountry, which lies beyond a closed gate at the entrance station.

Birds of Interest

Chihuahuan Meadowlark, Vesper Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird

About Valles Caldera National Preserve

See all hotspots at Valles Caldera National Preserve

About 1.25 million years ago, a spectacular volcanic eruption created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera.  The preserve is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife, and meandering streams. The area also preserves the homeland of ancestral native peoples and embraces a rich ranching history.

Valles Caldera is home to the second largest elk population in New Mexico. Other popular residents include Gunnison prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, black bears, mountain bluebirds, and kestrels.

A backcountry vehicle permit is required if you wish to drive your personal vehicle into the backcountry before beginning your wildlife viewing adventure. This permit is not required if you will be accessing the backcountry on foot, by bicycle, or on horseback.


  • Restrooms on site

  • Wheelchair accessible trail

  • Roadside viewing

  • Entrance fee

Content from Valles Caldera National Preserve Official Website and Owen Sinkus

Last updated August 29, 2023