The Great Desert



The Valle Grande is the bottom of the Valles Grande Caldera - the only part that isn't filled up with the resurgent dome (Redondo Peak) or obsidian domes and flows. It is prime grassland, and was the centerpiece of ranching for the Baca Land Grant, which dated back to Spanish colonial times. The Baca Grant was purchased by the US Government in 2000 as the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The Preserve's purpose is to"…protect and preserve the scientific, scenic, geologic, watershed, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, and recreational values of the Preserve, and to provide for multiple use and sustained yield of renewable resources within the Preserve." In short, to protect this unique scenic and geologic resource from being subdivided into ranchettes. The purchase of the Preserve was criticized as too expensive and as interference with private enterprise (i.e., ranchettes). But the Republican legacy of President Teddy Roosevelt prevailed.

Panorama of Valles

Panorama mosaic image of the Valle Grande, from the roadside view point. Redondo Peak (the resurgent dome) is the tallest peak, left of center, and the caldera wall is behind us. The other hills are domes from eruptions of obsidian or rhyolite lava inside the caldera.
Valle Grande from Afar
Blue Highway

Aerial view of the Valles Caldera, looking basically the same direction as the center of the panorama. The Valle Grande is tan, in the mid distance just left of center. Redondo peak stands behind it and to the right. The town of Los Alamos (home of the atomic bomb) is in the foreground, on long mesas of Bandelier ash-flow tuff.
NM State Road 4, in the Valle Grande, is a true "back road and blue highway."

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Copyright Allan Treiman, LPI.
Updated 09/06/03.
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