This volcano in the northeastern part of New Mexico was designated a U.S. National Monument by Woodrow Wilson in August of 1916. It is an extinct cinder cone volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. It is 4 miles in circumference at the base with a crater diameter of 1,450 feet. From the top of the rim, you can see not only New Mexico, but Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
The volcano became active approximately 62,000 years ago and last erupted about 56,000 years ago. At an elevation of 8,182 feet above sea level at the highest point, the base is surrounded by lava flows. The rim is accessible by road and there are about 5 miles of hiking trails around and inside the rim as well as around the base.
We hiked the trail around the rim and saw these amazing views!!
We met this really nice young man on the trail - Zachary. He had a lot of volcano knowledge! We enjoyed hiking with him for a portion of the trail.
View down into the crater. Do you see that tiny white rectangle in the center of the photo? That's the plague at the bottom of the crater. We did hike down there after we made it around the rim.
The hardy hikers...
John says I take photos of weeds...but I thought these were pretty in this stark environment.
This lichen colony is 20,000 years old! Over time the acid they produce will break down the rock into soil.
You can see for miles, and miles, and miles...
This is the evidence of porcupines eating the bark of these trees to survive during the winter months (sometimes killing the tree in the process).
Another view of crater.
Volcanic rock as we approach the bottom of the crater.
Of course, John wanted to break the rules and wander off the trail.
He wanted to climb up to these caves...
We loved the spectacular views from the rim. Admission is $5 per car. John has a senior pass that gets us into all national parks for free. It cost us $10 and allows him plus 3 guests admission for life. Sweet deal.