Riding Missouri 2009 Edition

Every ride can be an adventure!

Exploring a 60,000 Year Old Volcano

Riding across the panhandle of Oklahoma was like riding across Kansas in the winter time. Except it wasn’t winter and with a temperature of 90 degrees outside it was hot, dry and most all of the vegetation was dead and colorless.

 

 

 

 

 

I never thought that parts of Oklahoma could be so dry and desolate.  While traveling across the dry plains of Oklahoma the only trees we saw were those near an occasional abandoned farm or building of some kind.

 

 

 

 

 

Chris’s FZ1 and my Nighthawk 750 both have a range of 200 miles or so between fuel stops.  There were a few times though that we were not sure if we would have enough fuel between stops as we made our way to New Mexico.  We did finally make though and the Capulin Volcano was just a few more miles away.

 

 

 

 

 

The Capulin Volcano resides in the middle of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field surrounded by hundreds of other volcanic formations in Northeast New Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a two mile ride to the top of this giant where the rim resides at an elevation of 8,000 feet.  The temperature is slightly cooler at the top and during stormy weather the rim is hit  frequently lightning strikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sides of the Capulin Cinder Cone were very steep so steep in fact that it would be very difficult to climb on foot. The road made it easy though but it also could be hazardous since there were sections that had no guard rails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The view from the rim at the top of the volcano was spectacular.  The tree lines below marked the path of the lava that once flowed from here and other volcanoes that liter the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Capulin Volcano was last active about 60,000 years ago. This may seem like a long time but in geologic time it was just yesterday.  The base of the volcano is four miles in circumference and the distance across the cone is 1,450 feet.

 

 

 

 

 

60,000 years ago when this area exploded hot lava and ash was thrown for miles into the air then fell back to the earth to form the Capulin Cinder Cone.  You can still see piles of lava rock on the sides and in the bottom of the cone.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s almost a quarter of a mile walk down to the bottom of the cinder cone where there are more debris piles and a park ranger to answer questions.  It was easy getting down the steep trail but a difficult walk back up and I had to stop and rest two or three times before reaching the top again. 

 

 

 

 

 

More photos of volcanic debris inside and around the cinder cone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Capulin Volcano is also home to several varieties of Juniper, Cactus, and wild flowers.  Its most famous resident though is the Lady Bug of which I didn’t get any photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to ride up to the rim of a long extinct volcano is something that I don’t get to do everyday.  Exploring the cinder cone and learning a little about the geology of this area made this a very interesting motorcycle trip for us and we enjoyed this trip very much.

 

 

 

THE END