Capulin Volcano

We drove from Santa Fe to the very northeast section of N.M. to see another volcano. As we drove into the Capulin area it started turning very green…so different from the rest of New Mexico! We learned that it’s the wettest year in this area in a long time.

The weather was interesting…every day it was clear with blue skies and warmed up fast, hitting the 80s by noon. But, at between 3-3:30 every afternoon the sky would cloud up and it would rain. It would RAIN! Huge raindrops, some hail, lots of thunder and lightning! After a couple of hours of that it would clear up and you could see stars at night.

Capulin volcano is a fairly recent cinder cone – about 65,000 years old. The region is all volcanic, with activity from 1-3 million years ago that shaped mesas and ridges to recent activity in the area about 30,000 years ago.

A cinder cone is formed when ash and gasses along with chunks of lava spout out of a crack in the earth’s crust. Over time the ash and gasses and chunks build up the land from being flat to being a round cone. Usually it’s concave in the center and often it’s lower on one side and higher on the other because the prevailing winds will push the ash and gasses as they spurt out. Capulin volcano is a very prime example of this type of volcano.

A unique feature of this volcano is that you can drive to the low side of the rim and hike up and around the whole rim! We did that hike – at 8,000 feet and very steep sections of about 45 degrees, we took it slowly but it was well worth it!

The 360 degree views from the rim area are fabulous and show how the whole area is volcanic.

We saw some deer that live in the cinder cone (they leave often to get water etc. but are in the cone almost every day); and we saw lots of antelope as we drove through the area. We were driving down a narrow road from a mesa into a valley and got stopped by a cattledrive; the cowboys (and cowgirl) were expert at getting the cattle into one lane so we could pass.

Overall, a lovely part of this state.

Here are some pictures we took: