Capulin Volcano National Monument


Photo by Dalton McMillan

Dalton McMillan

When we think of volcanoes, we think of distant places like Hawaii or South America. We imagine Frodo Baggins dangling the ‘ring of power’ over the mighty fires of Mount Doom. We remember Pompeii. We don’t immediately think of home.

According to the United States Geological Survey, there are 169 volcanoes in the United States, 65 of them active, and 18 of them deemed as a “very high threat.”

Capulin Volcano, which literally means “chokecherry” in Spanish, stands at an elevation of 7,877 feet in New Mexico, and boasts a crater diameter of 1,450 feet. It can be seen from miles and miles away due to the mostly flat nature of that region.

My trip to this national monument, was purely impromptu. Seeing several signs for it on my way back home from a road trip, I decided to pay it a visit. After all, it’s not every day that you get to stand on top of a volcano.

Upon my arrival, I was told by park rangers that they would be closing the site in 15 minutes. Once my vehicle was out of their sight, I sped off up the thin steep road to the top of the monument. The moment my car was in park, I jumped out of my car, grabbed my camera, and ran along the trail, pausing every minute or so to snap a quick photo.

Although I was completely out of breath the entire time I was there, I’m really glad I stopped to see just a small piece of New Mexico. Having no expectations for the volcano, it was more about the experience and less about the journey. Sometimes it’s good to take risks, you never what undiscovered beauty you might find.

For more information regarding this volcano visit:

Photo by Dalton McMillan