New Mexico Bucket List – V ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

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There are some things in New Mexico that seem just, well, strange. As we noted in an earlier post, one of these is volcanoes in New Mexico. The other is what is called the Very Large Array or VLA. Let’s visit the VLA first.

VLA A024,_VLA_Radio_Telescopes,_New_Mexico,_USA,_2001

By Brian W. Schaller – Own work, FAL,

The Very Large Array is an astronomical radio observation station. You will find the VLA about 50 miles west of the city of Socorro, out on the plains. There are 27 of the radio antennas out there, positioned in a large Y shape. Each of the antennas is 82 feet in diameter. The uniqueness of this is that each of the signals is combined to essentially create a single signal from what is the equivalent of a receiver 22 miles by 422 feet.

VLA Karl_G._Jansky_Very_Large_Array_(8279314499)

By BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada – Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, CC BY-SA 2.0,

So what does the VLA actually do? From the National Radio Astronomy Observatory site, “Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that give off radio waves. With radio astronomy, we study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible or hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.” The gathered information is used by astronomers around the world.

On northward now to the Valles Caldera National Preserve. I think I may have put park on the image that I made for this week but it is technically a preserve, handled under the National Park Service. This area is located in the north-central part of the state in the Jemez Mountains. The preserve includes most of the caldera created by an eruption many, many years ago. A caldera is formed when the ground collapses into the magma chambers as the magma is erupted in a series of eruptions. (Yellowstone is another example of a caldera.)

The caldera is dormant, though not extinct. According to the NPS site, there are signs of volcanic life including boiling sulphuric acid fumaroles and hot springs. This area is considered one of the world’s best examples of an intact volcanic caldera.

In addition to the volcanic history found here, there is also plenty of examples of human history. This area was widely used for hunting and gathering lifestyles prior to the agricultural lifestyle that came about. The area has great obsidian deposits and many native cultures treasure the area and its resources. There is also a history here of the Spanish and Mexican settlements in the area, including some important land grants.

Valles Caldera Mountain_Bikers1

mountain bikers at Valles Caldera photo from National Park Service

The park is a beautiful place and there are many activities visitors can participate in. Of course, there is hiking and camping. There is fishing, horseback riding, visiting historic sites, mountain biking, and other activities including ranger-led options.

Lori, At Home.

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5 thoughts on “New Mexico Bucket List – V ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

  1. Kristen July 20, 2019 at 9:10 pm Reply

    Very interesting about the volcano…didn’t know about that. And I think the VLA is probably the inspiration for a part of a video game (Fallout New Vegas) I played. I love seeing the real world connection to games (books, movies, etc). Thank you!

    • 3gigglygirlsathome July 21, 2019 at 4:07 pm Reply

      I have never head of that game so that is pretty interesting to see a connection. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Annette Vellenga (@athomepets) July 23, 2019 at 11:49 am Reply

    my eyes are obviously tired today.. every time I saw very large array I thought… very large army? Seriously New Mexico has a very large army let’s go read about that. Then I saw the dish and thought WHAT???? 🙂 anyways, the preserve sounds like a great place to visit, and the array… it’s good.. just not as exciting as a very large army. 🙂

    • 3gigglygirlsathome July 23, 2019 at 9:19 pm Reply

      You do sound tired! Sorry – no big army but you can come see some giant satellite dishes! 🙂

  3. […] Express S – Smokey Bear, Sunspot, Soda Dam T – Turquoise U – UFOs V – Valle Caldera, Very Large Array  W – White Sands, Wheeler Peak X – no post Y – Yucca Z – […]

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