August 26-28, 2014 – Capulin, New Mexico
It rained a little overnight and we woke up Tuesday morning to this beautiful double rainbow.
We left Amarillo and drove to Capulin, New Mexico where we are staying at the Capulin RV Park. This is a very small but nice park in a very small town – the RV park and a general store seem to be the only businesses here. We plan to spend a couple of days here and visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument. The temperature today only got into the mid 80’s – Yeah – much better and it will be cool sleeping tonight. We are so glad to be back where the humidity is low and it cools off at night.
Unfortunately, after we got set up Rex noticed we had lost the tread on one of our tires. When he was changing the tire he noticed that we also have a broken spring. He spent the next three hours calling repair and parts stores in Albuquerque, NM and Pueblo, CO before he finally found a place in Pueblo that would order one and get it shipped to them overnight. He also found a tire store in Pueblo where we could get two new tires. We had a tire go bad in North Carolina so we were running on our spare and now we need to replace them both. So on Wednesday instead of visiting the Capulin Volcano National Monument we drove about 130 miles to Pueblo to get the spring and tires. Rex spent most of the evening installing the new spring and mounting both tires so we plan to visit the volcano tomorrow.
After stopping at the Visitor Center where we viewed a short film on the volcano we drove to the crater rim. We hiked the Crater Rim Trail, a one-mile loop around the rim. The views were great on this trail; we could see 4 different states – New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. We got a great of the bottom of the crater. The rim on the other side rises 415 ft above the crater floor. The parking lot is 100 ft above the crater floor so we gain 300 feet elevation in the mile hike.
We have a great view of Sierra Grande, the largest volcano in the Raton-Clayton volcanic field. It rises 2,200 feet above the plains and is about 10 miles southeast of Capulin.
We saw a couple of mule deer grazing in the crater but could only get a picture of one.
After we finished the Crater Rim Trail we followed the Crater Vent Trail to the bottom of the crater. The short trail descends 105 feet down to the plugged vent of the volcano and passed through this large rock field.
After hiking back up from the crater bottom – a lot harder than going down – we drove back down to the Visitor Center where we hiked the 1-mile Lava Flow Trail. When the volcano was active there were 4 separate lava flows - this trail circles through one of these flows. The lava flows cover 15.7 square miles. Much of the flow is now covered with vegetation but we hiked past a number of lava mounds that formed when the hardened crust broke and the lava oozed out under pressure.
We enjoyed our morning hiking around Capulin Volcano – it was really nice to get out and hike after not getting a lot of exercise because of the heat in the Southeast. We were glad we hiked in the morning because about an hour after we got back to the RV park it started thundering and we saw lightening by the volcano. It rained most of the afternoon and we enjoyed relaxing before we leave for Chama tomorrow