Crater Vent

Round Trip Distance: 0.26 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 7758 - 7862 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 15 mins.
Trailhead: Vent
Fee: $20/vehicle
Attractions: volcano vent

The Crater Vent trail is located in the Capulin Volcano National Monument near Capulin, New Mexico. Beginning on the rim the trail descends into the volcano's crater via a paved path to the central vent where the explosive event occurred that created Capulin Mountain.

Entering 'Capulin Volcano National Monument' into your driving app will get you turn-by-turn directions to the Visitor Center. After paying the requisite fee you can drive up the Volcano Road to the crater. Note that the monument is only open between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. No camping is available.

Once at the Crater Rim parking area you will find a kiosk for the Vent rail.

The Park Service made good use of some of the lava rock to build a nice retaining wall and shelter. The shelter is a good place for those that don't want to journey down into the volcano to sit and wait for those that do.

The paved path makes for easy hiking.

Even though the volcano has been dormant for 60,000 years it still seems like a bit of a novelty hiking into its crater.

During the descent into the crater of the volcano you will pass a marker that explains that capulin (kah-poo-LEEN) means "chokecherry" in Spanish. A few chokecherry trees can be found within the crater.

In this photo you can see different colors of lava rock. If we understand it correctly the redder rock, which is closer to the vent, solidified at a warmer temperature than the black and gray rocks.

There is a nice bench to sit upon once you reach the bottom and a side trail with a sign hinting to watch for rattlesnakes. (It actually looks like they are trying to discourage people from hiking off of the paved path.)

At ground zero there is another kiosk that depicts the pluming of a volcano. Before the eruption there was no mountain here but as the lava pushed toward the surface it started creating a bulge.

Back up at the parking lot there is another kiosk that details how the mountain was formed and the cone of the volcano was created as the lava shot high into the air where it cooled and fell back down to the ground as ash, cinders and rocks. The debri piled up around the vent forming the mountainous cinder cone that rises about 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape.

There isn't a lot to the Vent trail but you sure can learn a lot about cinder cone volcanoes by hiking it and reading the kiosks. The elevation change between the rim and the vent is less that 200 feet. That was nothing for us as we are accustomed to hiking the mountains in Colorado. Casual hikers are likely to find it more strenuous although the paved path really does take a lot of the effort out of the hike. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.