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The two RV Gypsies
at Capulin Volcano National Monument
in New Mexico

October 3, 2012

USA map showing location of New Mexicomap of New Mexico showing location of Capulin National Monument
welcome to New mexico sign

Capulin Volcano National Monument, located in northeastern New Mexico, was designated a U.S. National Monument on August 9, 1916 "to preserve a striking example of recent extinct volcanoes". On September 5, 1962, Congress amended the proclamation to "preserve the scenic and scientific integrity of Capulin Mountain National Monument." It is an example of an extinct cinder cone volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. A paved road spirals around the volcano and visitors can drive up to a parking lot at the rim. Hiking trails circle the rim as well as lead down into the mouth of the volcano.

Capulin Volcano National Monument sign
The two RV Gypsies by the Capulin Volcano National Monument sign

Capulin Volcano rises steeply from the surrounding grassland plains to an elevation of 8,182 feet above sea level. The irregular rim of the crater is about a mile in circumference and the crater about 400 feet deep. It is big. It is nearly a mile across at its base, has a relief of nearly 1,000 feet, and a summit crater 400 feet deep, making it one of the larger examples of this type of volcano.

Capulin Monument

Below: The view from Capulin Volcano parking lot. The landmarks seen across northeastern New Mexico are the features of the volcanic field. The flat topped mesas are ancient lava flows. The Mountains are cinder cones, shield volcanoes, tuff rings, and volcanic domes.

View from Capulin Volcano parking lot
View from Capulin Volcano parking lot
View from Capulin Volcano parking lot
View from Capulin Volcano parking lot

This region of volcanic activity is the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. It has been active periodically, beginning at the western edge of the field with the Raton Phase from 3 to 9 million years ago. The Clayton Phase erupted between 2 and 3 million years ago at the eastern edge of the field. The Capulin Phase began about 1 million years ago at the center of the field. Capulin Volcano erupted approximately 60,000 years ago, when mammoths and giant bison roamed these plains.

panorama looking down into the Capulin Volcano
sign about the Volcanic Plumbing
sign about the Volcanic Plumbing
sign about magna
sign about the lava rocks
sign about the trails and safety at Capulin Volcano National Monument

The two RV Gypsies hiked the Vent Trail that is only 0.2 miles long and goes down to the bottom of the crater to the vent, giving the two RV Gypsies an unusual opportunity to see the inside of a volcanic mountain. (Karen has been on a trail all around the rim of a volcano which provided a great view of the heart of the volcano while she was on the big island of Hawaii, but the heart of the volcano was still hot, unlike this one).

Karen Duquette on the Vent trail at Capulin Volcano
Karen Duquette on the Vent trail at Capulin Volcano
Volacanic bombs - rocks
Volacanic bombs - rocks

Small rocks (nut size to fist size solid lava) are called cinders. Cinders are often mined for use in landscaping and road building. Cinder cones experience a single eruptive period, and then die. Volcanic bombs are fragments of lava (fist size to car size) that were partially molten when ejected form the Volcano. Volcanic ash, cinders, and rocks, blown thousands of feet into the air, blanketed the landscape as they cooled and fell. Layers of cinders and volcanic bombs piled up around the vent to build the cone.

Capulin Volcano
Capulin Volcano
Capulin Volcano
Capulin Volcano

The two RV Gypsies took a rest and just enjoyed the moment.

The two RV Gypsies take a rest
The heart of Capulin Volcaono
volcanic bombs
volcanic bombs

The two RV Gypsies then stood at the vent of the volcano, the opening in the Earth's surface from which the volcano erupts (sometimes call the heart of the volcano). The vent for Capulin has long been plugged by solid lava such as the rocks shown above.

The two RV Gypsies are now standing at the vent of the volcano
looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
Karen Duquette looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
Lee Duquette in the heart (vent) of the Capulin Volcano
in the heart (vent) of the Capulin Volcano

Capulin Chokecherry - like mountain mahogany, chokecherry is a member of the ROSE family and a popular place for deer to browse. The abundance of Capulin (the Spanish word for chokecherry - pronounced Cah-Poo-Leen) gave the mountain, the National Monument, and the nearby village their names.

Capulin Chokecherry and sign
 looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
Karen Duquette looking up from the heart of Capulin Volcano
the two RV Gypsies at Capulin Volcano National Monument
the heart of Capulin Volcano
laughing clipart dude

Even though it was a short, easy trail, it was a bit steep. But OK - you two - stop acting like you are dying, it really wasn't that hard of a trail.

Karen Duquette resting
the two RV Gypsies resting

Lots of antelope are seen on the roads to and from Capulin Volcano.

antelope

The two RV Gypsies stayed in the Raton KOA in Raton, New Mexico. But no photos were taken in the campground because this was just a one night stop-over. But, it must be mentioned that the lady in the check-in office was very nice.

look below

go to the next adventure of the two RV Gypsies The two RV Gypsies went to Santa Fe, New Mexico
to see the miraculous spiral staircase.