So we are driving along Highway 64 in the Northwest corner of New Mexico and we see this mound that can’t be missed. It just stands out from the surrounding features.
We had some extra time built into our trip to see these types of places. So we took the turn off to visit a volcano.
This is a national monument which is part of the National Park System.
They were remodeling the Visitors Center (on the left) at the time of our visit. The small shack on the right served as the temporary Visitors Center. This is where you pay the $7 fee to drive to the top of the volcano or do some hiking if you choose.
This sign gives you an idea of the 2 mile drive up to the top. It also highlights the hiking trails and the rules. Be careful hiking as there are many signs warning of rattlesnakes.
My wife was a bit hesitant about the drive. She hates driving “scary” roads but braved this one courageously and was glad she did it in the end.
You do need to pay attention to the elevation. At nearly 8000 feet it is a bit harder to breathe for many. I was very glad that we brought some oxygen with us.
At least they thought of having restrooms at the top. The stairs at the left lead to the rim trail if you are daring enough.
One of the reasons that this volcano stands out from the rest of the scenery is that the region is transitioning from the flat grasslands to the mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
This is the view from the parking lot down into the volcano. I did hike down to the bottom which is a relatively short hike. The hike down was not bad. The hike up was a bit harder. That’s when I needed the oxygen. That is also the time I was glad I did not hike the rim trail although I might on another trip because the views would make it worth it.
While the hike down to and the view from the bottom were interesting, it’s the views looking out from the rim that are gorgeous. This is why most people would come here. The white-roofed building in the left center is the Visitor Center.
Even if you don’t hike this view is well worth the drive up to the top. I mean how many opportunities do you get to go to the top of a volcano as well as going down to the bottom of one?
If you are in the area this place is just so interesting to visit. The views are spectacular and it doesn’t take too much energy to enjoy them. You can take as long as you want here or just a short time. Either way, it is well worth the visit.
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