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Snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sleigh rides highlight a full calendar of winter activities announced by the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
The schedule also includes two free snowshoeing and skiing access days. Winter hours are from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at the Valle Grande Staging Area.
An expanded holiday schedule will run every day from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 26 through Jan. New this season, the preserve will remain open for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Jan. 21 and for President’s Day, Feb. 18.
Skiing and snowshoeing open the season on Dec. 7, weather permitting. Fees are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (62 years and older), $8 for youth (5-15 years) while kids four and younger are free. Five-day passes are available for $40 per adult and $32 for seniors and youth.
Reservations are not required but all must check in and depart from the Valle Grande staging area. Also, the Valle Grande Trail, Coyote Call Trail and the surrounding area on the south side of N.M. 4 will remain open every day for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing free of charge.
Christmas Tree Sales begin the day after Thanksgiving and continue through Dec. 23 at the Staging Area. Trees will be sold during regular business hours on a first-come first-served basis for the cost of a $20 permit fee, which will go to support the preserve.
Visitors can enjoy free skiing and snowshoeing during Public Appreciation Day, Dec. 15 and Winter Trails Day, Jan. 12. Carpooling is recommended for these free events because parking is limited. Check in and check out at the Valle Grande staging area is required.
Three Special Moonlight Events dot the schedule on Dec. 28, Jan. 26 and Feb. 24. The Moonlight Events run from 5-9 p.m.
The self-guided, skiing or snowshoeing activity offers visitors the opportunity to experience the Valle Grande during full moon conditions. Moonlight skiing and snowshoeing permits will be sold at the Valle Grande Staging Area beginning at 5 p.m. at $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth and free for kids four and younger. Visitors should be prepared for high elevation, winter mountain weather and night conditions.
Horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides offer visitors an hour-long ride through the winter landscape. Rides are $30 for adults, $24 for seniors and youth and free for kids four and younger. Reservations are recommended to guarantee a seat, but drop-ins will be accommodated if there are seats available.
Visitors can get an early start on 2013 by enjoying the Fourth Annual New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration in the Valle Grande. The festivities will begin at 5 pm and include skiing, snowshoeing, bonfires and end with a fireworks display at 8 pm.
Ticket reservations are required to enjoy in all the events and include reserved parking, a skiing/snowshoeing permit, food and a raffle ticket for a door prize.
Reservations are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and youth, children four and younger are free. Visitors who want to see only the fireworks can take the family for a $20 per vehicle cover charge at the main gate the night of the event while parking is available.
Details on events reservations can be found at vallescaldera.gov or by calling 1-866-382-5537.