Scenic USA - New Mexico

Capulin Volcano

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Capulin Volcano - Capulin, New Mexico

Photo by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   In northeastern New Mexico, an area of sweeping prairies, a very distinctive volcano rises up 1300 feet above the plain. Known as the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Fields, this 8000 square mile area is littered with lava lakes, lava tubes, scattered cinders and dramatic volcanic mountains.
   While Sierra Grande is the largest shield volcano in the area, Capulin Volcano National Monument allows its visitors to drive to the top. The park features five hiking trails, with two centered on the crater vent. The Crater Vent Trail descends into the plugged vent, dropping 105 feet to the bottom of the crater. The Crater Rim Trail, a one mile loop hike, circles the crater rim. Capulin Volcano Park Entrance From this 360 degree viewpoint, visitors are able to see parts of Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma on a clear day.
   Have no fear, the Capulin Volcano is extinct. Its period of activity occurred about 60,000 years ago. Since then, vegetation has taken hold among the cinders (scoria). Climbing up and away from the prairie grasses and wild flowers of the plains, the steep slopes have produced a habitat for ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, juniper, mountain mahogany, scrub oak and chokecherry. Capulin is a Spanish word for chokecherry, inspiring a name for this natural wonder.


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