Capulin Volcano National Monument (New Mexico)

… was established as Capulin Mountain National Monument in 1916 and renamed (“Volcano”) on this date in 1987.


Mammoths, giant bison, and short-faced bears were witness to the first tremblings of the earth and firework-like explosions of molten rock thousands of feet into the air. Approximately 60,000 years ago, the rain of cooling cinders and four lava flows formed Capulin Volcano, a nearly perfectly-shaped cinder cone, rising more than 1000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Although long extinct, Capulin Volcano is dramatic evidence of the volcanic processes that shaped northeastern New Mexico. Today the pine forested volcano provide habitat for mule deer, wild turkey, and black bear.

Capulin Volcano National Monument preserves approximately 800 acres (324hectares) primarily the cinder cone volcano. More than 15 square miles (~39 km2) of associated lava flows are outside the monument boundaries. The volcano has been well-preserved with the greatest erosion being limited to where the cone is cut by a 2-mile road that spirals its way to the crater rim. The volcano rises to a height of 8182 feet (2495 m) above sea level, or 1300 feet (396 m) above the surrounding High Plains and at its base is 4 miles (6.4 km) in circumference. The crater is 415 feet (126 m) deep and 1450 feet (442 m) in diameter. The slopes of the volcano have been partially stabilized by the formation of soils, produced by the breakdown of the volcanic material by lichens and mosses. Once these soils formed, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees took root. Chokecherry trees, which are common along the crater trails, inspired the name for this cinder cone volcano; Capulín is a Mexican-Spanish word for Chokecherry.

The monument lies in the Raton section of the Great Plains (or Interior Plains) physiographic province—an immense sweep of country that stretches north from Mexico to Canada, and east from the Rocky Mountains. This section of the Great Plains is characterized by volcanism. Capulin Volcano is just one out of many volcanoes in northeastern New Mexico….

Capulin Volcano National Monument