Capulin Volcano National Monument
Trip Start Aug 12, 2013
47Trip End Oct 02, 2013
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I headed for the Capulin Volcano National Monument today. In spite of the weather forecast, the weather was good.
Capulin Volcano National Monument is in northeastern New Mexico in a region called the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field, which contains many other volcanoes. Capulin Volcano is said to be the best example of a cinder cone volcano in the U.S., which is why it was made a national monument in 1916. The volcano is relatively young with an age of roughly 60,000 years. Unlike many cinder cone volcanoes of this age, most of it is covered in soil with a juniper and pinyon pine forest.
I first went to the Visitor Center and watched a short movie about the geological history of the area. I then hiked the short Nature Trail next to the Visitor Center, which has some interpretive signs about the local plants. I then hiked the Lava Flow Trail, which is a 1-mile loop trail leaving from the Visitor Center parking lot. You see some lava on the trail but there are no interpretive signs explaining the type of lava or how it came to look the way it does.
Next, I drove to the top of the volcano. The road spiraling to the top of the volcano was built by 1925 but it was improved during the CCC years. Many people seem to think it needs more
improving. I heard two people talking about how scared they were driving to the top. By the time I got to the top the wind had picked up substantially.
I hiked the Crater Vent Trail, a 0.2 mile, paved trail that leads to the bottom of the crater, which is only about 100 feet down from the parking lot. Next I hiked the Crater Rim Trail, a paved, 1 mile trail around the rim of the crater, which climbs about 300 feet from the parking lot. It's not that steep but at over 8,000 feet it didn't take much to get me winded. There are some good views of the other volcanoes in the area.
Next I headed for the Boca Trail, a 2 mile loop trail through the vent area around the base of the volcano. I thought maybe the wind was just at the top of the mountain but I was wrong. It was quite windy as I hiked the Boca Trail. I was expecting interpretive signs but there were none. You get to see some interesting lava formations but it was disappointing compared to what I've seen at some other lava flows, such as Craters of the Moon National Monument.
After hiking all the trails I headed back to my hotel.