Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heavenly New Mexico

There is so much stunning landscape in New Mexico it's hard to know where to start.

So here is one spot, unlike anything I have seen before:

Imagine if you can a bowl that is more than 13 miles across. Now fill that bowl with soft grass and fir trees, hot springs and streams.

Behold a caldera, the mammoth crater left over after a monstrous volcano blew its lid millions of years ago. It sits in the Jemez mountains of northern New Mexico. And it -- like so much of the state -- is enchanting.

A brand new addition to the National Park Service, Valdes Caldera National Preserve is home to thousands of elk that rely on the site for breeding, calving and foraging.

We hiked into the caldera, surrounded by prairie dogs, and smelling like sage. Afterward, we met Jorge-Silva BaƱuelos,
a marvelous Park Service ranger and superintendent at Valdes Caldera. He spent half an hour answering our questions and pointing out different features of the caldera.

I can't fathom a volcano 13 miles across.

But then, there are so many things in this Universe I can't comprehend. How exquisitely humbling.