From one end of the state to the other you never know what type of geography you will find. This weekend my journey takes me to northwest New Mexico and the El Mapais National Monument ...land of fire and ice.
10,000 years ago the Bandera Volcanos errupted changing this land forever; with nothing better to do on a lazy Sunday I took a trip to the caldera of Bandera Volcano.
The hike is a relatively easy one. A slow incline takes you to the top of the non-active volcano. I do recommend good walking shoes though. Although level the volcanic gravel can be loose depending on the trail you take. The land around the chain of volcanos is both green and beautiful and at the same time almost barren in the path of the lava flow.
This is the 1930s era trading post where you sign in. The owners once actually lived here and there is a quaint kitchen inside still in use.
It was quite cool standing atop this once active volcano.
Once you head back from the volcano hike you head towards the ice cave. The ice cave is actually a collapsed lava tube and I believe is the longest known lava tube in the US.
The ice is 20 feet thick and was once used by the men who worked the area for lumber to keep their beer cold. Some things never change. The temperature in the cave never gets above 31 degrees Fahrenheit. As rain water and snow seep into the cave the ice floor thickens. It had reached as low as 12 feet at once time before people were stopped from carving away the ice for personal use.
The deepest ice is the oldest and dates back 3,400 years. The ice cave remains today due to a combination of exhisting conditions that make a natural ice box: 20 feet of ice in a well insulated cave shaped to trap frigid air.