Updated: Jan 22
NPS News, JEMEZ SPRINGS — In an on-going effort to improve recreational access and opportunities, the National Park Service (NPS) will begin offering backcountry vehicle passes, Feb. 15 at Valles Caldera National Preserve by online reservation, instead of on a first come, first served basis.
In conjunction, the park also will extend the distance that visitors can drive into the park without a backcountry vehicle pass.
Currently, 35 backcountry vehicle passes are available daily during the 6-month summer season (May 15 to Nov. 15). With this change, passes will be released for reservation on Recreation.gov on the first of each month in monthly batches in two sets: the first set of 10 passes beginning three months out and the second set of 25 passes one month out.
For the first month that the system goes live, the first set of reservations will become available Feb. 15 for dates May 15 through May 31, and the second set of reservations for that period will be available April 1. While the passes remain free of charge, Recreation.gov charges a $2.00 processing fee.
In addition, the NPS is extending the distance visitors can drive into the park without a backcountry vehicle pass by two miles, for a total of four miles of park roads where visitors can enjoy Valles Caldera’s historic setting and scenic vistas.
This change improves visitor access to more front-country destinations, including the popular South Mountain Trail, historic Baca Ranch Cabin District, and old growth ponderosa pine groves. Until additional designated parking is established, a front-country vehicle pass will be required to manage the number of vehicles in the area at any given time.
This pass will be issued from the park entrance station free of charge on a first come, first served basis.
“We’re excited to continue to improve recreational access and offer a richer experience at the park, while providing visitors with new tools to plan ahead for their visit. This is just one step of many more to come as we work on future short- and long-range planning efforts,” Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos said.