Stargazing at the Valles Caldera National Preserve

Panoramic view of the Valles Caldera National Preserve - a fantastic place to go stargazing, hiking, and more.

Though there are plenty of fantastic places to enjoy scenic hiking near Santa Fe, there is perhaps nowhere more beautiful or unique than the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Valles Caldera National Preserve is accessible right off the highway north of Santa Fe and affords easy access to one of New Mexico’s most stunning wilderness areas. 

Not only is the Valles Caldera National Preserve a fantastic place to enjoy nature and some hiking, but it’s also one of the eight New Mexico destinations considered an International Dark Sky Park. These parks are unique in that they have limited light pollution and plenty of dark, clear nights – and in New Mexico, the high elevations and stunning desert scenery make stargazing a truly epic activity.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve is located in the Jemez Mountains just outside Santa Fe, approximately 90 minutes from our Santa Fe Bed and Breakfast. Whether you plan to spend the day there hiking or want to venture out for a late-night stargazing party, it’s one of our favorite things to do in Santa Fe. 

Join us for several unforgettable adventures like this – book your room at our #1-rated Santa Fe Bed and Breakfast today!

Man Looking At A Dark Sky, Like What You'Ll Find At The Stunning Valles Caldera National Preserve In Santa Fe

Stargazing in New Mexico’s Night Sky Near Santa Fe

Whether you are a novice or an experienced stargazer, there’s something unbelievably magical about gazing up at the starry night sky in the high deserts of New Mexico. Here, you’ll enjoy high elevations, remote locations far away from any light pollution, few crowds, and more clear nights than most states can boast. 

These conditions add up to an epic stargazing adventure – especially when you choose to go somewhere as remote as Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Preserve is one of eight New Mexico parks designated as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. These areas are recognized as being some of the darkest skies in the world and are exceptional destinations to gaze upwards at the constellations and galaxies above.

Valles Caldera National Preserve was designed as a Dark Sky Park in 2021, making it the newest entry into New Mexico’s Dark Sky program. This 89,000-acre Preserve is located in the middle of a 13-mile-wide crater of a former supervolcano.

From the Valles Caldera National Preserve, dark sky enthusiasts can expect to see the Milky Way, meteor showers, planets, and star constellations, all unobstructed by the light pollution found in the majority of the country. 

Though you can certainly gaze up at the dark skies on your own, there are also several night sky programs available at the Valles Caldera National Preserve throughout the summer. Besides offering stargazing and exceptionally dark skies, this Preserve is also known for its expansive mountain meadows, meandering streams, and abundant wildlife.

A Hiking Trail In The Jemez Mountains And The Valles Caldera National Preserve In Santa Fe

More Things to do at Valles Caldera National Preserve

The Valles Caldera National Preserve offers an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s darkest skies and the best stargazing opportunities. This park is about so much more than its dark skies, though! The Preserve is a true outdoor lover’s paradise, with plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, hunt, and fish. 

A few highlights of the opportunities waiting for you at the Valles Caldera National Preserve include the following: 

  1. With nearly 90,000 acres to explore, you can expect plenty of fantastic hiking throughout the Valles Caldera. You’ll find everything here, from easy nature walks to challenging mountain climbs. Some interesting treks include the hike to Sulphur Springs, the Valle Grande Trail, and the Hidden Valley Trail.
  2. Like hiking, the trails and roads here are perfect for mountain biking adventures. Whether along the mountain peaks or through the beautiful forests, there’s a good variety of roads and trails here for mountain bikers to enjoy. 
  3. Meandering throughout the Valles Caldera National Preserve are various streams – the perfect spot for fishing! The rivers form many pools and overhangs, which, combined with the cool mountain water at these elevations, are the ideal habitat for trout. You’ll need a special permit to fish here, which is best applied for in advance. 
  4. Whether hiking, biking, fishing, or otherwise enjoying your time at the Valles Caldera National Park, slow down and appreciate the abundant wildlife found here. This park is home to a large population of elk, in addition to Gunnison prairie dogs, coyotes, badgers, black bears, mountain bluebirds, and kestrels.

Whether visiting the park during the day or making the trip for the dark skies, there’s no better place to stay in northern New Mexico than our Santa Fe Bed and Breakfast. Book your room today! 

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