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There may be a wintry chill in the air, but things are heating up at the Valles Caldera National Preserve as its winter activities begin.
Winter activities on the National Preserve start on Saturday, weather permitting, and if the snow stays, will end on March 21.
The Preserve will be open daily during the holiday season from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 3. After Jan. 3, the Preserve will only be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
In addition, the Coyote Call Trail and surrounding area on the south side of N.M. 4 are open for skiing and snowshoeing, free of charge, everyday during daylight hours.
Day use cross-country skiing and snowshoeing permits are available as snow and weather allow.
Fees are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors or adults age 62 or older, $5 for youth or children age 6-15 years old and free for kids age 5 or younger. No pets are allowed on the Preserve, only working assistance animals are allowed. No advance reservations are required.
Visitors amust check in and depart from the Valle Grande staging area two miles down the Preserve’s main road.
Two free public appreciation days will be offered this season on Monday and Tuesday.
Bring the whole family out to take advantage of the skiing and snowshoeing opportunities on the Preserve.
Free skiing and snowshoeing will be offered from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Check in and check out at the Valle Grande staging area are required to take advantage of this opportunity.
Special moonlit events will be offered if snow conditions permit.
On Dec. 31, start a new tradition by attending the “Fire and Ice New Year’s Eve Celebration” from 6 p.m.-1 a.m.
There will be fireworks, hot cider, refreshments and more.
Fees are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $15 for youth and free for kids age 5 or younger.
The Jan. 30 and Feb. 27 moonlit events run from 6 -10 p.m. and cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth and free for kids age 5 or younger.
Visitors should come prepared for high elevation, winter mountain weather and night conditions.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides offer visitors with an hour-long ride through the winter landscape.
From aboard, visitors experience the elements, the solitude of winter and possibly the wildlife of the Preserve.
A guide will share the interesting history and lore of the old Baca Ranch, offering insight into its past and future.
Rides cost $30 for adults, $24 for seniors, $15 for youth and free for kids age 5 or younger. Reservations are recommended.
For more information or to make reservations, visit the Valles Caldera National Preserve website at www.vallescaldera.gov/comevisit or call 1-866-382-5537.
The Valles Caldera National Preserve is now on Twitter.