Capulin Volcano National Monument in northeastern New Mexico is one of the few places in the world where people can walk into a volcano.
A road spirals up the inactive volcano to the summit, where two self-guiding trails begin. One trail leads to a vent at the bottom of the crater; the other, longer trail follows the crater rim. From the highest point on the rim trail, more than 8,000 feet above sea level, one can see three states, as well as stunning views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the west and the Cimarron Cut-Off of the Santa Fe Trail to the southeast.
Capulin Volcano, in New Mexico, allows visitors to hike inside a volcano.
During the late 1800s, wagon trains heading for Fort Union passed by the volcano. About ten miles from Capulin Volcano is the Folsom Man site, where human remains and projectile points were first found in association with extinct animals.
Capulin Volcano is part of a field of volcanism that began about eight million years ago. Recent studies indicate that Capulin Volcano is approximately 59,000 years old.
During its last eruption, cinders, ash, and other rock debris spewed out and fell back upon the vent, piling up to form a cone-shaped mound rising more than 1,000 feet high -- one of the largest and most symmetrically shaped cinder cones in the United States.
Capulin Volcano National Monument Information
Address: Three miles north of New Mexico Hwy. 325 and U.S. Hwy. 64/87, Capulin, New Mexico.
Hours of Operation:
- Daily, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Labor Day - Memorial Day
- Memorial Day - Labor Day, 7:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Admission: $5 per vehicle
Learn about these other national monuments:
Find out more about travel destinations in North America:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- New Mexico State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in New Mexico as well as other recreational activities.
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.