Super Save for Supervolcano: Conservation Victory at Valles Caldera National Preserve

You did it! National Park Trust donors just helped to save the geothermal wonders of Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico, and the last privately held parcel in the park. This victory marks the end of an 11 year-long effort to protect the supervolcano’s awesome features.

Since 2008, our friends at the National Park Service have had their eye on the 40-acre parcel hoping it would be put up for sale. Their chance finally came this year, and Park Trust’s community of supporters were there to quickly provide funding for its purchase. The land boasts a collection of sulfuric acid fumaroles, mud pots and hot springs that visitors will finally be permitted to explore. Valles Caldera superintendent, Jorge Silva-Bañuelos, says “the property, with a little TLC, will be a stunning showcase of the park’s geologic history and will likely help us secure a designation as a park with significant geothermal resources.”

As the oldest supervolcano in America, Valles Caldera is truly a special place. It formed about 1.25 million years ago when a massive volcanic eruption created a 13-mile wide circular depression. From the discovery of ancient obsidian spear points, pottery and home structures, we know that humans began to live there about 11,000 years ago. 

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the caldera area was disturbed by ranching, timbering and mineral extraction; now the natural landscape is slowly reappearing. Because the 40-acre parcel was once used as a health spa, many of the springs on the property have some pretty interesting names such as Kidney and Stomach Trouble Spring, Lemonade Spring, Footbath Spring, and Sulphur Spring!

Soon, park visitors for generations to come will be able to explore volcanic science at this stunning site!