Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Capulin Volcano National Monument, NM: Walking the Rim

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

OK, the volcano has been dormant for millenia, but still. Walking its rim was exhilarating - the scents of the juniper and piñon, the cool wind on a warm day, the wildflowers, and the 360-degree panoramic view as I circled the top.

I didn't think about it til just now, but for most of my walk, I was entirely alone, which enhanced the experience. The parking lot is small and park staff controlled the number of vehicles coming up to the rim's trailhead. I suspect this isn't normally necessary, but because of a concurrent summer market at the visitor center below, more people than usual visited the park.


Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

When ascending to the rim, you've got two choices: A steep incline and a gentler descent on the other side or a gentler incline and a steep descent at the finish. It's possible that the steep-side incline is shorter than the gentler-incline side, but I'm not entirely convinced of this. I chose the steep incline so I could get the hard part out of the way first.  I think I would have enjoyed either way.

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

If you've got bad knees, I recommend ascending the steep side so you can make your return descent on the gentler angle. You may also want to have a walking stick with you to help you relieve the stress on your knees going down.

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

En route, I encountered a couple of hikers who said that usually this time of year, the foliage on the volcano is covered with convergent lady bugs that over-winter here, but a park ranger told them the insects were late this year. I did see a few:

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

My sister and I visited the Capulin Volcano National Monument on the same day of one of its "summer markets." We ate a killer BBQ brisket sandwich, listened to some Celtic music, and watched a children's Jicarilla Apache performing arts group, who'd driven in from Dulce.

One of the market vendors, Grampa's Gourmet, sold honey harvested from a variety of flora, including  ... tamarisk. Yes, the much-maligned salt cedar is feeding bees. The tamarisk honey tasted good.

A slide show:


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