Thursday, October 23, 2014

Valley of Fires

Our next three stops in New Mexico were a first-time visit for both of us and all were much more interesting than I anticipated.  The first was Valley of Fires Recreation Area.  The most recent lava flow through the Tularosa Basin was 1500 to 2000 years ago, recent in geological time.

I really liked how the campground was on a sandstone hill overlooking the massive lava field.  This is the view from our site.

This is the view off the other side of the hill.  You can see some lava on that side also.

Here are some statistics about this lava field.
Imagine, 44 miles long.

The next morning we hit the trail to take us right into the flow.  From the hilltop, there's no end in sight.  That's part of the campground on the left.

But to really appreciate it, we have to get down off our safe hill.  I was fascinated with the edge of the flow.  You can just imagine the surface lava cooling while the molten lava underneath continues to push against the crust.

We saw collapsed bubbles and lava tubes, like this one that went right under the trail.

It was much more interesting in person since pictures just don't do it justice.  

There's plenty of vegetation in that seemingly hostile environment. 

Including this juniper, estimated to be over 400 years old.

One thing that surprised me was that going off-trail was permitted.  I'm not sure how I feel about that. I love the idea of freedom to explore, but I worry about the possible damage. 


  1. Can you imagine the sound of the eruption that caused that massive lava flow? The size of it is staggering.

    Nice trail, great job on the walkways, someone put a lot of thought into the trail's design.

  2. Paul's comment reminds me that I forgot to mention something interesting. This lava flow didn't come from a volcano, but from vents in the earth's relatively thin crust in the area. Wow, that sounds like it could happen again any time.

  3. Isn't Nature absolutely amazing. Hopefully the ground wasn't too hot while you were here. If it was, I'd definitely be worried.

  4. Lava fields are fascinating and their size is amazing. I was just watching the lava flow from Kilauea on TV ... doesn't look like it plans to stop to stop anytime soon.

  5. Cool place to hike! Like you I'm always amazed at how plants adapt to what seems like a hostile environment, but perhaps it's not as bad as it looks, right? Mentioning you guys on my post later today, I went back to Bald Bluff on Thursday.

  6. It was huge!! No wonder the Pueblos left that area no one seems to know why this could be why.... very interesting!