A Trip to Capulin Volcano National Monument
Capulin Volcano National Monument is an almost perfectly symmetrical cinder cone volcano in the Rayon-Clayton Volcanic Field. The volcano formed around a single vent, like other cinder cone volcanoes, with its symmetrical sides forming over time as cinder, ash and other debris ejected from the volcano settled around it. The cinder cone rises more than 1,300 feet above the surrounding landscape, and over 8,000 feet above sea level.
A paved spiral road leads to the volcano’s rim where you’ll find some of the coolest hiking trails in New Mexico. Capulin Volcano last erupted about 56,000 years ago, and it’s one of the few places in the world where visitors can safely explore the crater and rim of an extinct volcano.
Hiking At Capulin Volcano National Monument
Apart from the dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape, there are many exciting activities to make a trip to Capulin Volcano well worth the experience. There are nearly five miles of hiking trails with spectacular views, and those who don’t wish to hike can still experience the breathtaking sight of the Rocky Mountains from the parking area at the top of the volcano.
If you’re looking forward to an exciting hike, you can choose from one of two trails. The first leads to the bottom of the crater where you’ll see the large basalt boulders that plug the vent. The second trail goes upward and circles the rim. There are benches placed along the hiking trails, so you’ll have many opportunities to stop, rest, and take in your surroundings. There are also a number of informational plaques so you can learn more about the volcano.
You’ll want to stop at the Visitor Center to grab a brochure before you head up the to the rim, and you take this opportunity to view the park film and listen to the rangers describe the geology, ecology, and history of the national monument. If you brought kids, ask for a junior ranger book when you pick up the Capulin Volcano National Monument brochure.
Things To Know Before You Go
- Capulin Volcano National Monument is open every day from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm. The road to the rim of the volcano closes at 4:20 pm.
- Smoking is strictly prohibited at Capulin Volcano due to extreme fire danger.
- Animals are not allowed on the trails. However, they are allowed on the picnic grounds and by the Visitor Center, as long as they’re on a leash.
- Check the weather forecast before visiting. Bad weather may result in closure of the volcano roads. (Check for Alerts).
- Be prepared for a hike! Bring sturdy shoes, plenty of water, and a good camera because this is an experience you won’t want to forget.
Capulin Volcano National Monument is one of Northern New Mexico’s coolest attractions. Have you been? Are you going? Tell us in the comments!