September 6, 2012 at 2:19 PM

Last Ride of the Season: Banco Bonito at Valles Caldera Preserve

"Valles Caldera is open for a wide range of activities including hunting, snowshoeing and wagon/sleigh rides"

By Susie Morgan

Hoof Prints in Santa Fe

Susie Morgan is a lifetime lover of horses, the outdoors and lives for adventures. She lives in Las Campanas, and is reconnecting with horses after working 27 years in New York City.

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For the first time in a few years, all the Banco Bonito equestrian trails were open this summer. The VC Staff has been hard at work clearing trails and cutting timber damaged from the fire.  After the terrible Los Alamos and Jemez fires last year, we were delighted to see the quick rebirth of the grasses in the Jemez Mountains. 

For those that ride here every year, the Duke has been the standard reliable truck trail that remains from the old logging days.  This year, Smokin’ Riata is open.  Although the trail is grown over in some spots, that just adds to the adventure.  Other trails open are Weekend Rider, All Hat No Horse Cutoff, City Clicker Cutoff, Los Vaqueros, El Cajete Loop all which tie back into the Duke.   Remuda Grande takes off from the Duke then dead ends.  All trails have signs posted and the VC Staff have an on-line map you can print from home to help with navigation.

Typically, equestrian dates open in late May and end with Labor Day weekend.  For a very reasonable $10 per horse per day, anyone can make an online reservation based on availability.  There is also a helpful checklist for riders as well as driving directions to get to the Banco Bonito staging location.  The Preserve limits participation to 40 horses per day to minimize the toll on the pristine Caldera Preserve.  At Banco Bonito staging, you will find a helpful VC staffer, stock water and a round pen, and permanent bathrooms for visitor use.  There are certain dates that even allow overnight camping for $10.

Valles Caldera is open for a wide range of activities including hunting, snowshoeing and wagon/sleigh rides.  For equestrian access, mark your calendar next May to take advantage of this extraordinary natural resource.

Check here next May for the earliest Equestrian reservations
http://www.vallescaldera.gov/comevisit/horse/horse_viewall.aspx

Here is a complete list of activities year-round at Valles Caldera
http://www.vallescaldera.gov/reservations/reservations.aspx  

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