The Capulin Volcano last erupted more than 60,000 years ago. From a vent on the earth, pressurized magma exploded into the air, raining lava rock, fire, and ash onto the local population of mammoth, bison, and short-faced bears.
The cinder cone that remained now rises 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The visitor center holds exhibits about the volcano and the geologic and human history of the region. A self-guided trail to a vent at the base provides a glimpse inside the volcano.
A short drive up a paved road (hiking to the top is permitted only when the road is closed to cars) leads to a one-mile trail along the volcano’s rim. Take a closer look inside the crater and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including three lava-capped mesas and the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Capulin Volcano National Monument is one of several volcanic peaks in the area, and the only one that still has a visible crater. The rich soil supports a thriving ecosystem of plants and animals, including wild turkey, mule deer, and black bear.
If You Go
Take cover during summer thunderstorms. Lightning strikes are common and have caused fire damage and loss of wildlife.
Did You Know
On a clear day, some say you can see five states – New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas – from the volcano’s rim.