The backcountry of Valles Caldera National Preserve is a world of nature, where humans are guests. Elk graze across the forests and valleys, rivers run wild, and the endemic Jemez Mountains salamander lives in the moist understory of Douglas fir forests.
We invite you to visit this natural wonder of north-central New Mexico. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles so as to leave the place as you found it.
Backcountry Vehicle Route
From May 15 through November 15, you can drive into the backcountry along the backcountry vehicle route. This route takes you from the Valle Grande front-country through the central part of the park and up into Valle Toledo and Valle San Antonio in the north.
Backcountry Vehicle Pass
A backcountry vehicle pass is required to drive into the backcountry. We provide 35 passes every day from May 15 through November 15. Passes are available on Valles Caldera's Recreation.gov page. See the table for when passes are available for reservation.
Each vehicle that travels into the backcountry is required to have a pass.
Road Condition and Speed Limit
The route is a narrow gravel and rock road. Wildlife frequently cross the road. Large rocks, potholes, wash-boarding, or water may be on the road, so high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
The speed limit is 20 miles per hour (32 kph), except in posted areas where the speed is 10 miles per hour (16 kph). Remember, all wildlife has the right-of-way.
Parking in along the backcountry vehicle route is limited. Please pull off the road in areas that
The exit of the backcountry vehicle route is the same as the entrance. There is no alternative exit. Therefore, remember that the time it takes you to drive into the park is the same amount of time you'll need to exit the park.
Rules and Regulations
To help you enjoy the backcountry of Valles Caldera, here are some important rules and regulations to follow.
Last updated: June 26, 2023