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Stand atop A ‘Young’ Volcano at Capulin

Rising high above the surrounding plains, Capulin Volcano National Monument is a beacon for travelers and a park which protects a unique landscape and native habitats. Designated a national monument in 1916 – but first protected way back in 1891 – this perfectly cylindrical cinder cone volcano is one of the largest sites in the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field – an area which is home to about 100 volcanoes. Though long extinct, this volcano is relatively young – geologists say it is around 60,000 years old.

Capulin’s summit is a lofty 8,182 feet above sea level, and what makes the summit truly unique is the paved road which climbs to it – something which few if any volcanoes can boast. From the top, visitors can hike a one-mile trail which follows the volcano’s uneven rim and enjoy uninterrupted views across Northeast New Mexico and into Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma – in the far distance are the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Another trail leads 400 feet down into the bottom of the caldera.

At the base of the mountain, the visitors’ center has exhibits explaining the area’s geology, natural and cultural history, and local wildlife.