Sunday Hikes:  The Trails of Capulin Volcano National Momument

There are 5 trails at the Capulin Volcano National Monument in the northeast corner of New Mexico.  Josh and I had arrived into the area later than we expected due to losing a serpentine belt in nearby Clayton NM.  The National Monument had closed but you could still drive in to the visitor center area.  We decided that we would knock out one trail before dinner (we camped nearby) and then come back in the morning.

We decided to do the Lava Flow Trail which is an easy one mile loop plus an overlook.  The lava fields here meet with the prairie and are overgrown with grass and rich with wildlife.  We saw rabbits and turkeys on this quick loop.  Josh took advantage of the opportunity to climb some lava rocks as well.

The Lava Flow Trail

To the Sierra Grande Overlook 

Josh taking wildlife pictures 

Josh climbing lava rocks 

Close up view of lava rocks

After dinner and we hoped some stars (but we slept too hard to get up to see them), we woke early.  The sun was already rising and we returned to the National Monument to complete the hikes.   We quickly knocked out the Nature Trail which was designed for kids and departed for the Boca Trail.  It’s trailhead was located near the picnic area headed up the road towards the summit of the volcano.  The Boca trail was a 2 mile loop that was mostly well marked.  It passed a couple of collapsed lava tubes, an overlook, and an abandoned rock fireplace.  We saw deer everywhere and greatly enjoyed the trail.  

The Boca Trailhead

Collapsed lava tube 

Are we watching the deer or are they watching us?

Not sure the backstory of this rock fireplace along the Boca Trail

After returning to the trailhead, it was about 715am and the road to the top of the volcano (which is where the remaining trailhead are located) was closed until 830am.  We decided since we were partially up the summit road we would continue up the road to the top.  After what I estimated at 1.5 miles we finally came to the summit.  The Crater Rim trailhead is here.  It is a 1 mile loop around the crater at the top of the cinder cone.  The magnificent views from up here were visible for 360 degrees around you.  The wind was blowing heavily and the sun shining brightly and bathing us in its warmth.  The .2 mile Crater Vent Trail to us to the bottom of the crater where the lava chute was filled with lava rocks and according to the many signs, rattlesnakes.

The Crater Rim Trail

Trail Map

View from the summit of Capulin Volcano

View of Little Capulin cinder cone from the summit of Capulin Volcano 

As we began our descent, cars started to arrive up the road as it had finally opened.  Going down the road was much quicker and easier and we were at the bottom where our jeep was parked at the visitor center.  We had completed approx 7.2 miles hiking and greatly enjoyed our time at Capulin Volcano.  I encourage you to visit as well.  rk