Winter Activities

 
Two smiling cross-country skiers.
Two people cross-country skiing along the backcountry route.

NPS

Winter is a spectacular time to visit Valles Caldera National Preserve. The park has miles of trails for the adventurous skier and snowshoer. Remember that you are traveling in an environment with unpredictable wildlife, changing weather conditions, deep snow, and snow covered streams. Your safety is not guaranteed. Be prepared for any situation and know the limits of your ability. With a little bit of preparation and know-how, many exciting activities await you. Be sure to layer up with insulating, waterproof clothing, wear sunglasses, use sunscreen and carry water. Finally, familiarize yourself with winter trail etiquette before you visit.

Cross-Country Skiing

Picture yourself gliding through an open valle or a silent forest full of fresh powder. Cross-country skiing is a rejuvenating sport that pairs physical exercise with the beauty of nature. You will need skis and poles with large baskets. Waterproof pants or gaiters help keep you warm and dry. In general, terrain and deeper snows on north slopes make for better for cross-country skiing, but you are welcome to strap on your skis throughout the park.

Cross-country skis are not available for rent within the park.

 
A woman wearing sunglasses and a green coat snowshoes toward us in a snowy valley.
Snowshoeing is a great way to enjoy snowy conditions at Valles Caldera.

NPS/L. Ray

Snowshoeing

Winter snow depths at Valles Caldera average between 8 and 12 inches, which is too deep to hike comfortably. Snowshoeing is a great alternative! It's as easy as strapping snowshoes on your boots and grabbing a couple of poles. No training is necessary, and, if you can hike, you can snowshoe. Most park trails can be explored with snowshoes. A few pieces of equipment are essential: you will need a pair of snowshoes and waterproof boots. Poles are helpful for maintaining balance, but optional. Waterproof pants or gaiters help keep you warm and dry.

The Valle Grande Bookstore has a limited number of snowshoes and poles available for rent.

Ranger Programs

Explore winter soundscapes on a cross-country ski tour. Let the light of the full moon guide you on a snowshoe hike in Valle Grande. Warm your fingers by a toasty fire while listening to storytellers.

Wintertime ranger programs are a unique and engaging way to learn about this volcanic landscape during your visit to Valles Caldera National Preserve. Check out our Ranger-led Activities webpage for information about winter offerings!

 
A groomed trail in the snow with a ski track and a snowshoe lane.
A groomed trail in the snow with a ski track and a snowshoe lane.

NPS

Important Tips

  • Groomed trails are not guaranteed. If you visit right after a big snowstorm, you will likely be breaking trail.
  • None of the streams have bridges. Carry a USGS topographic map and a compass and know how to use them. Cell coverage is very limited in the backcountry.
  • Familiarize yourself with Winter Trail Etiquette before you arrive. This will ensure a high-quality recreational experience for all groomed trail users.
  • Talk with park rangers before you leave on any trip. Some park areas could be closed to skiing or snowshoeing to protect wildlife.
  • Include allowances for limited daylight, snow conditions, temperature extremes, and the number of people in the group, their experience and physical condition.
  • Learn as much as you can about winter survival.
  • Narrow racing skis are great for groomed trails, but provide little surface area to break trail.
  • Dress properly and know about layering for severe winter temperatures to prevent chilling and overheating.
  • Remember, safety is your responsibility.
 

Seasonal Conditions

Snow volume varies from year to year, so check our Current Conditions page for up-to-date information. The ski and snowshoe season usually lasts from mid-December to mid-March. The trails are open all year to hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Vehicle access during the winter season (Nov. 15 to May 14) is limited to the Cabin District.

 

Last updated: February 9, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 359
Jemez Springs, NM 87025

Phone:

505-670-1612
Ranger Station (for general park information)

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