We stayed in the tiny campground in El Morro National Monument. We had visited El Morro and nearby El Malpais in October of '08 and I blogged about it then. Heaven forbid I should repeat myself so in case you missed it, click here. However, this time we went the private route and saw Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave.
I usually avoid the privately-held natural attractions. My thought is that if it's that good, it would be a national park. However, this was worth the $10 fee especially since we were lucky enough to meet and talk to the lady whose grandfather originally bought the land. He was a real self-made man and her stories about him were very interesting. Realizing they had something special, his daughter and her husband opened up the site as a tourist attraction in 1946. It's very well run and the trail guide is informative.
The trail winds up the Bandera Volcano providing great views of the many surrounding volcanos and lava flows. In this picture, you can see a collapsed section of the 17.5 mile main Bandera lava tube. (A lava tube is formed when the surface of the flowing lava cools and hardens while the lava continues to flow below.)
It was really pretty thrilling to look down into the caldera of the volcano. It erupted about 10,000 years ago.
Next we went to see the Ice Cave. On the way, we had a close look at some of the collapsed lava tube.
Down, down, down
to the ice cave. The ice in here is over 20 feet deep and the temperature never rises above 31 degrees. Needless to say, we took a quick look and left before we froze too.
Back in the Trading Post, we admired the museum quality artifacts that were found on the property. It's hard to imagine people could have lived in this harsh landscape, but at least they had a natural refrigerator.
I bought a postcard with the aerial view of the volcano.
And right from the RV, I snapped this sunset picture of the cliffs.