New Mexico’s Big Vidal Meadow comes alive with elk calving

If watching wildlife cavort and drift across rolling meadows is a passion, head to the Carson National Forest in northern New Mexico and into the Valle Vidal (The Valley of Life). A day trip from Taos, the lush 3,800-acre Big Vidal Meadow in the 101,794-acre Valle Vidal is prime elk-viewing habitat.

As described by the U.S. Forest Service, “this meadow is home to hundreds of cow elk in the spring (May 1-June 30) as they give birth to the next generation. New elk calves can be observed from Forest Road 1950 in the spring, but visitors are not allowed in the meadow itself until after June 30 to limit the disturbance to these new babies.”

A boost in number
Big Vidal
The Big Vidal Meadow in New Mexico’s Valle Vidal will see the birth of hundreds of elk calves this spring.Carson National Forest

Elk have made a significant comeback in New Mexico from the early 1900s when they all but disappeared from over-hunting. Reintroduction efforts from 1910 to 1966 boosted the return of the elk population to where it is today. And there is no better place than Valle Vidal to view the largest elk herd in New Mexico. Estimated at more than 2,500 animals, the elk herd is thriving and there is no better time to view the newest generation than in the spring.

Other wildlife

In addition to elk, visitors can also see mule deer, black bear, mountain lions, bald eagles and, in the nearby streams, the native Rio Grande cutthroat trout. For more information, visit and enter “Valle Vidal” into the search field.

JENNY JOHNSTON resides in Durango, Colorado, and is an outdoor writer and mother to two children who would much rather be outdoors exploring than inside watching her write. Look for her and her youngsters in the backcountry near you.