Last night's sunset as viewed from our front door...beautiful!
This morning we set out to explore a couple areas of Raton New Mexico. The first place we went was Capulin Volcano National Monument.
As we left the campground on this gorgeous morning, there was a perfect view of the snow-capped Spanish Peaks Wilderness Area, a prominent landmark along the eastern front of the southern Rockies.
Highway 64, the route we followed from Texas over here to Raton, cuts directly through what is know as the Raton Clayton Volcanic Field. There are approximately 120 cinder cones rising from the nearly 8000 square miles of land ranging from Trinidad Colorado to Clayton New Mexico. The Capulin Volcano has been almost perfectly preserved by the development of an unusual ecotone. The slopes of the volcano have been partially stabilized by the formation soils produced by the breakdown of volcanic material by lichens and mosses. Once this was established, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and trees took root.
Entrance to the park with smaller cinder cones off in the distance
The Capulin Volcano. Unfortunately, we were unable to do the drive up to the rim as they were finishing up roadwork repair today. It was very disappointing, but I collected my national park stamp in my passport, and took what pictures I could from the Visitor's Center.
A "lave squeeze up": these are formed when lava squeezes up through a small fissure in the already hardened lava crust. These formations are very common in these types of lava flows.
Some of Casey's cow buddies gathered alongside the roadway leading out of the park.
We then drove back to Raton, had some lunch, and set out to find Sugarite Canyon State Park. It's close to town and was absolutely beautiful!
The northern tip of Lake Maloya..Colorado border right there!
Trails leading away from the Visitor Center. We walked along the shorter, River Walk. We don't want to push it as we are not adjusted to this elevation yet. We are finding we get tired much faster, as well as being very dry...I am using saline nasal spray, hand lotion and drinking a lot of water!
Views along the River Walk Trail
You can't really notice it in the pictures, but here you can see some fire damage to the trees. Last June there was a terrible fire that started in Raton, believed to have been sparked by ATV'ers illegally riding along the railroad tracks. It quickly spread, lasting from June 12 to June 16. It burned a total of 27,792 acres, and 80% of Sugarite's 4000 acres. The park was closed until August 15, and one campground has remained closed and is undergoing extensive remodeling.
The river we walked along...it doesn't look too impressive, but remember this whole area, like much of the country, is in drought conditions. With the lack of snowfall this winter, I'm afraid waterfalls that we will visit this summer will be less than prime looking.
Lastly, it's not a really great picture, but a new life bird for us...the mountain bluebird!
It was an interesting day, and I learned a lot of new things today. I had never known about the volcanic origins of northeast New Mexico, one thinks (before traveling this way, anyway!) that it's a flat desert state. So it was really cool to find out differently!
Tomorrow we pick up the jacks again, and will arrive at Chalk Creek for our summer jobs. Can't wait!