Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave NCA
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. The NCA includes approximately 25,080 acres (View Map).

The NCA was once known as the Fort Stanton Military Reservation. In 1855, the U.S. Cavalry established Fort Stanton as a cavalry fort. During these tumultuous times, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers were sent to the New Mexico Territory to protect settlers in the area. The historic fort and its buildings are managed by the New Mexico State Parks Division. The lands surrounding the fort are managed by the BLM. Within the NCA is Fort Stanton Cave, the third longest cave in New Mexico. This cave was explored by soldiers posted at the fort as evidenced by their inscriptions within the cave.

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. Today approximately 5 miles of previously unknown passage has been mapped, without reaching it's end. Exploration continues in a "survey-as-you-go" manner.

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.

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. Rainfall averages 15 inches annually most of it coming during the monsoon season of July, August, and September. Thunderstorms are a common occurrence and lightning poses a hazard to hikers. Temperatures range from an average summer high of 85 degrees to winter lows averaging 19 degrees. Fire restrictions and/or closures are sometimes implemented in the NCA - check this website for updates. Please be alert for rattlesnakes during warmer weather.
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