Valles Caldera


Thirty miles west across the Rio Grande valley from Santa Fe sits the Jemez Mountain range, a volcanic group including one of only six known land-based super-volcanoes. Situated 15 miles west of Los Alamos is the 12 mile wide Valles Caldera. At the caldera’s highest point, the 11,258′ Redondo Peak, a resurgent lava dome rests entirely within the caldera together with Valle Grande, the grand sweeping grass valley providing its name.

Since the extreme viscosity of volcanic lava containing high silica content restricts its movement in the magna chamber beneath, the caldera floor is forced to swell. The resulting dome typically creates a roughly circular mound-shaped protrusion near the center of a very large open caldera such as Yellowstone or Valles Caldera.

The Valles Caldera, with Redondo Peak perched along its northern edge, provides spectacular views throughout the year. Under considerable February snow, the contrasts are fascinating.

Just to the northeast is the 11,561′ Chicoma Mountain. The tallest peak in the Jemez range, much of which lies within the Santa Clara Pueblo, Chicoma is sacred to the Pueblo people of New Mexico who traditionally regard it as the “center of all.”

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