Valles Caldera has miles of hiking trails (map). They range from flat valle strolls to steep climbs. If you are new to the preserve consult with rangers at the Valle Grande Contact Station. They can provide advice about which trails are appropriate to different fitness and experience levels.
Much of the Valles Caldera is over 8,000 feet in elevation. Even very fit individuals coming from lower elevations may experience altitude problems. Symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. After a few days your body will have made some physiological adjustments to higher elevations, but full acclimation may take weeks. To minimize symptoms drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, don't skip meals, and get plenty of rest.
Although you may not feel thirsty, the "thinner" air at high elevations actually results in increased water evaporation from your lungs. Again, drinking extra water may prevent a bad headache or other altitude symptoms.
Ultraviolet light is stronger in the mountains because there is less atmosphere for the sunlight to pass through. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses and consider wearing a long-sleeved shirt if you are out in the sun for an extended period.
If you have never hiked before or are traveling with children, check out the recommended shorter trails, such as the La Jara Loop Trail or the Pond Trail. Ranger-led walks can increase your confidence while you learn more about the park. Valles Caldera National Preserve is a great place to discover how traveling by foot brings you closer to nature.
A Few Things to Remember While Hiking:
Last updated: February 15, 2017