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Valles Caldera Supervolcano Explorer

 
 1 vote

Length

122.5 Miles 197.2 Kilometers


5%

Singletrack

Elevation

11,935' 3,638 m

Ascent

-9,877' -3,010 m

Descent

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

39%

Max Grade (21°)

10,332' 3,149 m

High

5,171' 1,576 m

Low

Conditions


Unknown

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This Featured Ride content is still in development or in editorial review.

The VCE meanders, by way of dirt roads, through the Jemez Mountains, and the Valles Caldera Preserve.

Lowell Neeper

Overview

Unless you have a National Parks pass, you’ll need to stop by the main office for a ticket ($10), which means you’ll have to do the ride in the suggested direction. Although it is valid for 7 days, note that no overnighting is allowed. The Preserve can only be accessed between 8am and 8pm.
Lying within the beautiful, unassuming folds of the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico's very own supervolcano has recently been opened to year-round bicycle access. The Valles Caldera Explorer serves as a meandering introduction to the area - by way of dirt roads, hot springs and trout fishing - using public transport from Santa Fe and Los Alamos as its bookends.
bikepacking.com/routes/vall…
Features: Commonly Bikepacked

Need to Know

Unless you have a National Parks pass, you’ll need to stop by the main office for a ticket ($10), which means you’ll have to do the ride in the suggested direction. Although it is valid for 7 days, note that no overnighting is allowed. The Preserve can only be accessed between 8am and 8pm.

Note that this route is 100% legal. There’s some uncertainty as to where exactly the park can be accessed by cyclists other than the points used. In the future, it may well be that there are more opportunities available – eg at mile marker 70/93.

Public transportation options only run from Los Alamos to Santa Fe during the week. Give the regional transportation office a ring, as the timetable is confusing. Buses tend to leave Los Alamos very early in the morning or late in the afternoon, so you’ll need to factor this into your route planning. There’s plenty of room for several bikes.

The Railrunner timetable can be found here. Note that Saturdays and Sundays are different.

Description

Situated to the north-west of Santa Fe and a train ride away from Albuquerque, the Jemez mountains is a bikepacking idyll crammed with backcountry dirt road possibilities – and fishing potential too, for anyone who packs a rod in their framebag.
This exploratory route uses the Railrunner train service to Kewa Pueblo, accessing the Valles Caldera via St Peter’s Dome Road near Cochiti Lake, home to one of the largest earthen fill dams in the US. A long, unpaved climb, St Peter’s Dome Road promises increasingly impressive views of the Jemez rising up from the surrounding desert, set to the blackened, skeletal remains of a fire that swept across its south-eastern flank.

Once within the Valles Caldera – a volcanic depression that extends some 14 miles in width – a series of rolling, primitive roads await. Largely closed to motorized traffic, they wend their way through forests of ponderosa and across lush and verdant meadows. Exiting the preserve via Sulphur Springs Road for a quick resupply in La Cueva, the route then climbs back up to the terraced pools of blissful San Antonio Hot Springs, via a beguiling slice of backcountry singletrack. There, excellent trout fishing and prime camping real estate beckon – appropriately set to tent rock sculptures – just a mile or two further up the creek.

Muscles relaxed and bellies (hopefully) full, the faintest of creekside singletrack tempts riders onwards. The end of an abandoned doubletrack preludes a stiff climb that feeds into the more established Forest Road 44, briefly overlapping with the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. As tempting as it is to continue to Abiquiu and ever northwards, the highest part of this ride, at over 10,300ft, also marks the re-entry point back into the preserve. This north-western corner of the Valles Caldera is particularly remote and appealing; a tangle of overgrown jeep tracks and singletrack meander through corridors of aspens, with views far across the grassy meadows of the plateau below.

Back at San Antonio Creek, it’s time to cross the gently undulating depression from west to east, now on the main gravel thoroughfare. Leaving the preserve – keep a lookout for chunks of jet black obsidian as you ride – a rough dirt road curls steeply up towards La Pajerito Mountain Ski Area. From there, the route plugs into Los Alamos’ local trail network for a thrilling singletrack descent back into town.

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  4.0 from 1 vote

#2466

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Rankings

#55

in New Mexico

#2,466

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271 Views Last Month
300 Since Mar 13, 2018
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