Horseback Riding


Horses have been part of the Valles Caldera landscape for more than 100 years. To ride a horse inside Valles Caldera National Preserve, owners/riders must have an equestrian permit issued by the park.


How To Get An Equestrian Permit

  1. Download and digitally fill out the Special Use Permit Application.
    NOTE: Your information will not save if you fill it out online. You must download the form to your computer to be able to input your information and save it.
  2. Open the file in Adobe Reader.
  3. Type in your information on page 1.
    1. Applicant Information: All of the applicable fields
    2. Activity Details: Enter "Equestrian Permit"
    3. Preferred Date: Enter preferred date of visit
    4. Location: Fill out where you think you will ride (just as an FYI)
    5. Participants, Vehicles, and Equipment: Fill out as best you can
    6. Equipment: Fill out as best you can
    7. Individual in Charge: Enter "Self"
  4. Type in your information on page 2.
    1. Name should fill in automatically
    2. Title: If applicable.
    3. Signature: Please digitally sign
    4. Date: The date you will send the application to us
  5. Read and understand the notices.
  6. Save the document.
  7. Email the completed application to
  8. Allow 7-14 business days for a park employee to process your application.

For questions and concerns, please contact us at or 575-829-4100 ext 3.


Using your Equestrian Permit

When you receive a return confirmation e-mail, there will be your permit, which contains a vehicle dash permit and a wallet permit card.

  1. Print the vehicle dash permit and the wallet permit card.
  2. Sign the wallet permit card and carry it with you while you’re riding.
  3. Place the vehicle dash permit on your vehicle's dash while you are riding.

Riders will have to bring their own horses as the park does not have an equestrian concessionaire in operation. Conducting commercial activities requires a Commercial Use Authorization.


Rules of the Trail

  • Each individual riding a horse is required to have a separate permit. A group of riders may not exceed twelve (12) persons/horses in any one party under this permit. Groups of thirteen (13) or more must apply for a separate group special use permit by contacting the park's Special Park Use Coordinator.
  • A permit only applies to one (1) vehicle and horse trailer.
  • Riders are required to stay on trails specifically designated for equestrian use. Permittees are prohibited from establishing new trails, including by the short-cutting of trails and switchbacks. Clearing of vegetation and riding off-trail is prohibited.
  • A backcountry vehicle permit is required if you wish to drive your vehicle and trailer into the backcountry before beginning your horseback ride. Permits are limited and available seasonally as conditions allow.
  • Environmental and safety conditions (snowpack, erosion, flooding) can close certain trails to all public use.
  • Maximum stock per party not to exceed 12 animals.
  • All animals must be under physical control at all times, must remain on roadways, trails, or permitted areas, and are prohibited from feeding/grazing on plant life within the preserve. Loose herding is not permitted.
  • Riding of stock at a speed greater than a trot is not permitted.
  • Any excrement from around trailers and haul homes will be removed from the preserve. Animals may not be stabled or corralled on preserve property and must be removed from the preserve at the end of the day (unless you are a hunter seeking permission for overnight stays). In places where horses and pack animals are tethered, manure must be scattered at least 300 feet from water sources.
  • The use of USDA certified weed-free pelleted feed is required while on the preserve. You're helping to prevent the spread of noxious weeds and keep the preserve worth riding in. All animals must be fed weed-free feed for 48 hours in advance of entering the preserve.
  • Travel in single file.
  • Horses and pack animals must be tethered at least 300 feet from water sources and in a manner to prevent damage to live trees or shrubs and away from vegetation, alcoves, and archaeological sites to prevent damage. Tying stock directly to trees or other sensitive preserve resources is prohibited.
  • Riders shall not ride double except for an adult/child combination.
  • Youth riders (16 years and under) are required to wear helmets.
  • Riders must be prepared to cross paths with other recreational users or vehicles.
  • The preserve does allow livestock grazing through a permit process and chances are likely that in some areas you will encounter wranglers working livestock.
  • Much of the preserve is over 8,000 feet in elevation. Acclimation of stock is advisable.
  • Remember, you are the best safety for your animals and yourself!
  • Information EVERY visitor needs to know.

Last updated: January 17, 2023

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 359
Jemez Springs, NM 87025


575 829-4100 x3

Contact Us