Saturday, July 14, 2007

Capulin Volcano National Monument

Today we decided to take a trip to Capulin Volcano National Monument, southeast of our location (this monument is just north of the small town of Capulin where we spent our first night in New Mexico earlier this year). The drive on SR-72 between Raton and SR-325 where you turn south to go to the Monument goes through some really beautiful country!

Capulin is the cone of a volcano that erupted between 56,000 and 62,000 years ago. The cinder cone represents part of the last stage of a great period of volcanism that began about 9 million years earlier. It rises more than 1,300 feet above the plains to 8,182 feet above sea level. The symmetry of the volcano was preserved because the lava did not flow from the main crater, but from the mouth located at the western base of the cone.

We had to wait in line at the Visitor's Center before driving up the 2-mile road that spirals around the mountain to the summit, because the parking area at the top is so small, they can't have cars come up until there is a space available. The drive up was scary for me because we were on the outside with no guard rails (in fact, I kept my eyes closed the entire time!).

The top two pictures above are taken from the parking area at the top of the summit. There is a wonderful view from the top, and had the weather not been so cloudy, we would have been able to see even farther. The bottom picture is of the vent at the bottom of the crater...there is a 0.2 mile trail that goes down to the bottom.

On our way back, we stopped in Folsom and had lunch at the Folsom Village Inn where we had really good hamburgers.


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