The NMO Valle Grande orienteering map is located in Valle Grande, the largest meadow of the Valles Caldera. The Valles Caldera, one of the world's largest extant supervolcanos, is managed by the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP).
Start location is the Valle Grande staging area, accessible from the VCNP main gate and visible from scenic overlooks along NM State Highway 4. The main gate is located at mile marker 39.2 on State Highway 4, 18 miles from Los Alamos or 20 miles from Jemez Springs. Go through the main gate and down the road about 2 miles to the staging area. You will be directed on where to park.
From the main gate to the staging area the road is unpaved, north facing, and in winter often snow packed and icy. VCNP plows the road when weather permits but four wheel drive and/or chains are recommended and may at times be required. On windy days drifting snow can make the road sometimes impassable, even if it has recently been plowed. If you do not have a suitable vehicle, consider car-pooling with someone who does. Ask the meet director to help you arrange this.
Groomed trails are suitable for cross country skate skis and small snowshoes. Snowshoe users please do not disturb ski tracks. Off trail travel is allowed and on advanced orienteering courses you can expect to break trail. Powder snow conditions generally require larger skis/snowshoes, else you will spend considerable effort stepping out of your own post holes.
Rental snowshoes are available from VCNP at the staging area. Supply is limited. Snowshoes for adults and children can be rented by the day, weekend, or week ($5, $10, $20; poles extra) from the Larry Walkup Aquatic Center in Los Alamos (505 662-8173). Weekend rental includes pick up Friday, return Monday. Snowshoes and poles can be rented from REI in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Rental Nordic skis, poles, and boots are available from REI in Albuquerque. For details see links below.
An individual day use permit from VCNP is required, and is available at the staging area. There are no reservations. A permit usually costs $10 per adult, $8 per senior 62 years and older, $5 per youth 6-15 years, and is free for kids 5 years and younger. A Five-Day Pass is $40.00 per person. For safety VCNP tracks visitors, so a permit is required even on fee-free days.
Companion animals are not allowed on the Preserve, only working assistance animals are allowed.
The Valles Caldera is the focus of intensive research in ecology, geology, history, and archaeology. Please allow plants, animals, and man-made objects to remain where you find them, undisturbed.
VCNP recreation office: (505) 661-3333
In winter 2010-2011 the Preserve will be open for skiing and snowshoeing activities on the following dates from 9 AM to 4 PM:
• December 18-23, 26-31 (December 20 is free)
• January 1-2, 7-9, 14-17, 21-23, 28-30 (January 8 is free)
• February 4-5, 11-13, 18-21, 25-27
• March 4-5, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27
Orienteering meets on this map
• Valles Caldera National Preserve
• • Winter recreation map (PDF)
• • Winter recreation program
• SkiNewMexico Snow Reports
• Wikipedia: Valles Caldera
• Los Alamos County Recreation Division: Equipment Rental
• REI in Albuquerque and Santa Fe