My Public Lands

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    Valley of Fires Three Rivers Petroglyphs Three Rivers Petroglyphs Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave NCA


    To celebrate the military child, this month we will post photos and information about some of the BLM lands near or adjacent to military installations, places where military families can GET OUTSIDE and enjoy America’s Great Outdoors.

    Today, we share information about three BLM-New Mexico sites  - all near Holloman Air Force Base.

    Valley of Fires recreation area is located immediately adjacent to the Malpais Lava Flow. Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock.

    From a distance, Valley of Fires appears as barren rock but when you walk through the nature trail there are many varieties of flowers, cactus, trees and bushes typical of the Chihuahuan desert. Animals include bats, roadrunners, quail, cottontails, mule deer, barberry sheep, and lizards. It’s also a virtual birdwatcher’s paradise with great horned owls, burrowing owls, turkey vultures, hawks, gnat catchers, cactus wrens, sparrows and golden eagles.

    The Three Rivers Petroglyph Site is one of the few locations in the Southwest set aside solely because of its rock art. It is also one of the few sites giving visitors such direct access to petroglyphs. The number and concentration of petroglyphs here make it one of the largest and most interesting petroglyphs sites in the Southwest. More than 21,000 glyphs of birds, humans, animals, fish, insects and plants, as well as numerous geometric and abstract designs are scattered over 50 acres of New Mexico’s northern Chihuahuan Desert. The petroglyphs at Three Rivers, dating back to between about 900 and 1400 AD, were created by Jornada Mogollon people who used stone tools to remove the dark patina on the exterior of the rock. A small pueblo ruin is nearby and Sierra Blanca towers above to the east.

    The Fort Stanton - Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area (NCA) was established in 2009 to protect, conserve, and enhance the unique and nationally important historic, cultural, scientific, archaeological, natural, and educational subterranean cave resources of the Fort Stanton - Snowy River cave system.

    Fort Stanton–Snowy River NCA is located at an elevation of about 6,300 feet above sea level in the eastern foothills of the Sierra Blanca Mountains of south central New Mexico. The surface landscape of Fort Stanton includes rolling hills, mesas, and both seasonal and perennial streams with grasslands, pinyon/juniper shrublands and ponderosa pine forest habitats. The sub-surface caves of the area continue to be discovered and explored.

    Snowy River is a significant passage within Fort Stanton Cave. In 2001, this large diameter passage was discovered after over 30 years of cavers investigating strong air flows coming through breakdown in the cave. Snowy River receives its name from a bright white crystal calcite formation covering the bottom of the passage.

    There are many opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, camping, visiting cultural and historic sites, picnicking, hunting, wildlife viewing, nature study, and photography within this unique NCA.


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