Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area

Photo of little brown bat with White Nose Syndrome The New Mexico State Director of the BLM has determined that caves with significant bat populations are special areas requiring protection.  This is based on the potential risk of White Nose Syndrome (WNS) infection to those bat populations.  Therefore, Special Recreation Permits (SRP) will be required for all activities in caves with significant bat roosts.  In an effort to limit the introduction of WNS to these caves by humans, the BLM will issue a limited number of SRPs to cave researchers who are subject to verified USFWS decontamination procedures.

Approved NCA Plan

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.

The NCA was once known as the Fort Stanton Military Reservation. In 1855, the U.S. Army established Fort Stanton as an Infantry and Cavalry post in the east-central New Mexico Territory to protect settlers in the region. The historic fort and its buildings are managed by the New Mexico State Monuments Division, Museum of New Mexico. The lands surrounding the fort are managed by the BLM. Within the NCA is Fort Stanton Cave, at over 31 miles, it is the second longest cave in New Mexico, the 14th longest cave in the U.S., the 62th longest in the world, and the largest cave managed by the BLM. The Cave was explored by soldiers posted at the Fort as evidenced by their inscriptions, units, and dates within the Cave. Visit to learn more about the area's history.

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. Snowy River is the longest cave formation in the world. Today, approximately 15 miles of previously unknown passage have been mapped, without reaching the end. Exploration continues in a “science first, survey-as-you-go” manner.

Location / Access
From the intersection of NM 246 and US 380 in Capitan, NM, drive east on US 380 for 4.3 miles to NM 220, which will be on the right. From the west end of Lincoln, NM, drive west 7.75 miles to NM 220, which will be on the left. Drive south 0.9 for miles to the Rob Jaggers Campground, where maps and an information kiosk are available. Historic Fort Stanton is approximately 1.5 miles further south on NM 220. On the grounds of Fort Stanton, the State of New Mexico operates a museum with information about the Fort and the Fort Stanton - Snowy River Cave NCA.

The Fort Stanton - Snowy River Cave NCA

Photo Gallery (Flickr)

Video (YouTube)

Interpretive Signs Hiking/Backpacking Watchable Wildlife Horseback Riding Picnicking 
Mountain Bike Trail Camping Hunting Historic Site Caving

Monument Information

Law| Map

Created: March 30, 2009
Size: 25,080 acres of public land

Plan Your Visit
Recreation Opportunities
Things to Know Before You Go:
Fees / Season / Hours

Contact Information
Roswell Field Office
2909 W. Second Street
Roswell, NM  88201-2019
Public Lands Information Center

2014 Manager’s Report

Caver Quest

Caver Quest Screen Shot
Caver Quest is a 3D virtual simulation of Snowy River in Fort Stanton Cave.  Click here to be taken to the Fort Stanton Cave Study Project website to download it.