Need for Planning

The world is changing and—having a relatively unique mission to protect, preserve, and restore—Valles Caldera National Preserve is in the perfect place to showcase the sustainable park of the future. At the same time, Valles Caldera is still a relatively new unit of the National Park System, so there are a lot of competing priorities. Here are some of the ways global change appears at Valles Caldera:

  • Climate change threatens Valles Caldera ecosystems with biodiversity loss and natural disasters. Rising temperatures and drought cause greater wildfire risk and affect human health.
  • Diversity and inclusion campaigns are exposing inequities in our society and emphasizing the need and opportunity to diversify our workforce, promote a welcoming and empowering work environment, and provide ways for everyone to experience the park.
  • Increased visitation puts additional strain on finite park resources and limited infrastructure.
  • Humans have a lasting impact on the environment through resource extraction and consumption, pollution, and habitat loss.

Here are some priorities, as a new park, Valles Caldera is tasked to work on:

  • Formation of a new and inspiring work culture.
  • Development of universally accessible visitor services and infrastructure.
  • Completion of a wide variety of planning documents, such as Cultural Landscape Inventory, Historic Resources Study, Historic Structures Report, Wildlife Management Framework, Park Condition Assessment, Zoning, Wilderness, Wild and Scenic RIver Assessment, Valle Grande District Development Concept Plan, and the General Management Plan, which incorporates many of the previous efforts.
  • Providing quality visitor experiences with limited infrastructure.
  • Reintroduce the park—how it is managed and how it is experienced—now that it is a national park unit.
  • Further strengthen partnerships with regional tribes.

These factors provide a moment in time for us to chart a future for the park that is sustainable, resilient, and welcoming to all.


The vision of Valles Caldera National Preserve is to be a national model for sustainability, restoration, and tribal partnerships that offers a welcoming and engaging landscape for all.


The goal of all our planning efforts is to move the park intentionally into the future as a quality, sustainable national park experience for all. We will strive to engage the public throughout our various plans.

Chart showing how all the different planning efforts are lined up through the years and how they relate.
Planning efforts between 2021 and 2026


Current Planning Efforts

General Management Plan

The General Management Plan (GMP) is the primary guiding document for a national park unit. It sets long-term goals for a park and provides broad direction for resource preservation and visitor use. In providing management direction at the broadest level, GMPs provide a framework for decision-making and serve as a basis for future implementation planning.

Per 54 USC 100502 and NPS Director's Order 2: Park Planning, all park units must address four general management planning elements, either in a single, stand-alone document or in a series of documents that collectively meet the statutory requirements:

  1. Measures for the preservation of the area's resources;
  2. Indications of types and general intensities of develop (including visitor circulation and transportation patterns, systems, and modes) associated with public enjoyment and use of the area, including general locations, timing of implementation, and anticipated costs;
  3. Identification of and implementation commitments for visitor carry capacities for all areas of the System unit; and
  4. Indications of potential modifications to the external boundaries of the System unit, and the reasons for the modifications.

It is a multi-year process to develop this plan, and we started this plan in 2022.

Wilderness Eligibility Assessment

  • Current status: Drafting wilderness eligibility assessments (Summer 2023 - fall 2023)
  • Expected completion: 2025, as part of the General Management Plan process
  • Public commenting: July 2022–November 2022

As part of the GMP process, the park is working with NPS regional and national offices to complete a Wilderness Eligibility Assessment (WEA). This assessment will inform GMP alternatives. The WEA will enable the park to incorporate wilderness stewardship into programmatic planning in a comprehensive process and manage eligible lands to preserve wilderness character. Beyond informing management concepts and strategies, the identification of eligible wilderness areas would also provide critical guidance to the park in prioritizing future restoration efforts, particularly of legacy roads.

Wild and Scenic River Eligibility Assessment

  • Current status: Finalizing eligibility assessment documentation (Fall 2023)
  • Expected completion: 2023
  • Public commenting: TBD

The park is pursuing an inventory/assessment of free-flowing rivers within park boundaries as specified in 5(d)(1) of the Wild and Scenic River Act. This effort will determine whether any segments meet wild and scenic river (WSR) eligibility criteria, as well as classify and establish outstandingly remarkable river values (ORVs) for any eligible segments identified. The GMP process will incorporate protection and enhancement of river values into broader management strategies.

Front-country Infrastructure Improvement Plan

  • Current status: Programmatic agreement signed; construction phase to begin Fall 2023
  • Expected completion: Spring 2024
  • Public commenting: Complete (October 2022-November 2022)

The park is proposing to make several improvements to the front-country area of Valles Caldera National Preserve which includes construction and renovation of park infrastructure at two locations, within the Cabin District located on the western side of the Valle Grande, and at the Entrance Station located approximately 2 miles into the park from the NM4 intersection.

The improvements would include a variety of infrastructure such as new trails, parking areas, accessibility modifications, and others which are all intended to improve the visitor experience in this area. Following the modifications to park infrastructure in these locations access to the Cabin District would be available to all park visitors without the need for a backcountry vehicle permit.

Many of the improvements would be constructed in such a way that they could feasibly be retained, removed, relocated, or modified in accordance with the long-term direction contained in future planning decisions currently under development at the park.

Management Zoning

  • Current status: Draft zoning concepts incorporated into GMP process (April 2021)
  • Next step: Being folded into General Management Plan

This planning process helped develop a long-term, sustainable, and strategic direction for future planning and management efforts at the park. The goal of this zoning process was to preserve and protect fundamental resources and values within the park, while enhancing sustainable visitor experiences and opportunities. Management zones focus on what resource conditions, visitor uses, and general levels of development could be at the park, rather than the details of how any experiences, outcomes or conditions could be achieved.

Two virtual public scoping meetings were held on April 20 and 22, 2021, and provided an opportunity for the public to learn more about the management zoning process, ask questions, and provide feedback. The public comment period closed on May 5, 2021 and we received more than 200 correspondences. Thanks to those who have engaged with us thus far! Your input helps us better understand a range of perspectives on what the public values and envisions for the park. Draft zoning concepts will be further refined and evaluated in the GMP process.

Strategic Action Plan (2022-2027)

  • Current status: Implementing 2023 strategic focus area items
  • Next step: Continue to review progress and prepare for 2024 actions

The strategic action plan is an internal, guiding plan that articulates the park unit's core values, vision for change, five-year goal, and strategic focus areas to accomplish the five-year goal.

Strategic Interpretive Plan (2023-2028)

  • Current status: Team going through training course
  • Next step: Develop strategic interpretive plan (March-September 2023)

The strategic interpretive plan is an internal, guiding plan that highlights the park's primary interpretive themes and develops a five-year goal for developing the park's interpretive program around those primary themes. The plan will develop specific annual steps to reach the five-year goal.

Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC)


Documents Open for Public Review

    Other Plans and Projects

    An archive of completed projects as well as projects without documents open for comment may be found on the PEPC website.


    Last updated: December 13, 2023

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