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
© USGS.gov
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.
Phone: 505/278-2201
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:

­Agate Fossil Beds National MonumentColorado National MonumentGeorge Washington Birthplace National MonumentNatural Bridges National MonumentScotts Bluff National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National MonumentDevils Postpile National Monument George Washington Carver National MonumentOcmulgee National MonumentSunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument and PreserveDinosaur National MonumentGila Cliff Dwellings National MonumentOregon Caves National MonumentTimpanogos Cave National Monument
Booker T. Washington National MonumentEffigy Mounds National MonumentGrand Portage National MonumentOrgan Pipe Cactus National MonumentTonto National Monument
Buck Island Reef National MonumentEl Malpais National MonumentHohokam Pima National MonumentPetroglyph National MonumentTuzigoot National Monument
Cape Krusenstern National Monument El Morro National MonumentHomestead National MonumentPinnacles National MonumentWalnut Canyon National Monument
Capulin Volcano National MonumentFlorissant Fossil Beds National MonumentHovenweep National MonumentPipe Spring National MonumentWupatki National Monument
Casa Grande Ruins National MonumentFort Frederica National MonumentJewel Cave National MonumentPipestone National Monument
Castle Clinton National MonumentFort Matanzas National MonumentJohn Day Fossil Beds National MonumentPoverty Point National Monument
Cedar Breaks National MonumentFort Stanwix National MonumentLava Beds National MonumentRainbow Bridge National Monument
Chiricahua National MonumentFossil Butte National MonumentMontezuma Castle National MonumentRussell Cave National Monument

Find out more about travel destinations in North America:ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.

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