Crater Rim

Round Trip Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 7860 - 8142 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 1 hr.
Trailhead: Rim
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: dormant volcano

Capulin Mountain was created some 60,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. Located near Capulin, New Mexico it is now the center piece of the Capulin Volcano National Monument. This post covers the Rim trail, as you might surmise from the name, circumnavigates the parameter of the volcano's large crater.

Entering 'Capulin Volcano National Monument' into your driving app will get you turn-by-turn directions to the Visitor Center where you can pay the entrance fee before driving up the Volcano Road to the crater.

Besides the facilities at the Visitor Center there is also a wheelchair accessible restroom at the trailhead. While the entire trail is paved it does start out with a set of stairs and is much too steep for wheelchairs.

The trailhead kiosk informs visitors that the 1 mile trail has an elevation gain of 305 feet.

The parking lot is situated in a low saddle of the craters rim making the trail equally steep in either direction you might choose to hike the loop. For this post we started out near the restrooms and hiked the trail in the counter-clockwise direction.

The trail builders managed to include a switchback to make the ascent a bit easier.

Interpretive signs all along the trail point out interesting facts about the ecosystem and other items of interest.

There is a nice view of the crater from near the highest point of the trail. They say you can also see into 4 different states from this vantage point. Those being Colorado, to the north, Oklahoma, to the northeast, Texas, due east, and of course, New Mexico itself.

This kiosk points out that Capulin is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field that has erupted at various times over the last nine million years.

As a matter of fact, you can look below you to the east and see two more craters. The closer one, that is the larger of the two, is called 'Baby Capulin'. We don't know of a name for the smaller one that is just beyond Baby Capulin but as you can see it has a nicely formed crater. (Click on the photo for a larger view.)

The path leading back down to the trailhead also includes a switchback and as you can see it looks every bit as steep as the other side of the crater.

The Rim trail is very exposed to the elements and should be avoided when thunderstorms are anywhere in the area. Those that have a little extra time might consider detouring through Folsom, New Mexico to check out their museum. At least once a year they have guided tours to the world famous Folsom Site which showed evidence of humans being in North America over 10,000 years ago. There's is a lot that can be learned about volcanoes in general at the Capulin Volcano National Monument. The more of the trails that you hike the more you will discover. As far as the Crater Rim trail goes, if you would like to see it for yourself all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.