Of all of America’s national parks, three (3) tend to stand out as pre-eminent showcases of outstanding natural beauty. Those are Yellowstone, Zion, and Yosemite. However, there is a fourth location that currently consists of a national monument, a national preserve, and a national recreation area that in this blog writer’s mind is equally, if not more spectacular than the three (3) national parks listed above. It is filled with astounding vistas, deep canyons, immense rock outcroppings, unique geological formations, towering mountains, ancient cultural sites, serene forests, a wild and scenic river, and a healthy mix of wildlife.
Located in north-central New Mexico are Bandelier National Monument (1916), Valles Caldera National Preserve (1975), and the Jemez National Recreation Area (1993). Together, they occupy some 283 square miles:
- Bandelier National Monument = 33,677 acres or 52.6 square miles
- Valles Caldera National Preserve = 89,766 acres or 140.3 square miles
- Jemez National Recreation Area = 57,650 acres or 90.1 square miles
As the photos in this post demonstrate, this portion of north-central New Mexico is simply stunning and worthy of designation into as a single national park. Doing so would add the prestige that current designations don’t always afford. In addition, it would allow streamlining of administration across the current three (3) entities. Sounds like a win-win scenario.
It is hoped those who read this blogpost will heartily agree that such a unifying national park would be a wonderful addition to the nation’s collection of outstanding natural and historical places. Peace!