Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico (description below)
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View at 8700 feet elevation of the Valles Caldera in the Jemez Mountains of North Central New Mexico, looking west from the Valle GrandeLewis's Woodpecker Hiking Trail on August 25, 2003.  The trail head is on the north side of NM-4 near mile marker 43, just west of the border between the Preserve and Bandelier National Monument.  Park in the paved lot (at the sign that says "Entering Bandelier National Monument") on the south side of the highway and carefully cross over to the trail head.   This view is near the terminus of the one mile hike, as the view begins to reveal the vast expanse of the caldera, where herds of elk gather as fall approaches.  Note domes where molten lava welled up within the huge crater.  The largest dome, in the left background is Redondo Peak, 11,254 feet elevation.   Blue Grouse and Northern Goshawk may be found in the forest that borders the open area.  We saw Lewis's Woodpecker and Clark's Nutcrackers (both named after the famed explorers) , Red Crossbills, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a host of fall warblers.  The shaded rock pile in the right foreground holds pools of rain water and provides natural "bird baths."  Above, right: Lewis's Woodpecker (a bit fuzzy at 180x magnification) through Kowa scope zoomed to 60x and Canon A40 at 3x. 

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Valles Caldera Web Page (includes maps and information)

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