BLM-New Mexico manages two national conservation areas (NCA): the 231,230 acre El Malpais NCA (80 miles west of Albuquerque), and the 25,080 acre Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave NCA (west of Lincoln).  

NCAs feature exceptional natural, recreational, cultural, wildlife, aquatic, archaeological, paleontological, historical, educational, and/or scientific resources.  Each NCA is designated for unique purposes and consequently, each NCA is managed in unique ways.

Each area is unique and offers different opportunities and different restrictions, but common activities include hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, backpacking, camping, nature study, photography, mountain biking, and driving off-highway vehicle routes.

Featured National Conservation Area: Fort Stanton-Snowy River Cave National Conservation Area

Horseback riding at Fort Stanton - Mike Bilbo

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 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. 

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.

Snowy River is a significant passage within Fort Stanton Cave, and is the longest cave formation in the world.  Today, approximately 15 miles of previously unknown passage have been mapped, without reaching the end.

All New Mexico National Conservation Areas

All New Mexico national conservation areas are below.