Hike-in Required
Open Year-round
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Capulin Volcano is one of many once-active caldrons in the Raton-Clayton Volcanic field that covers roughly 8,000 square miles in the high plains of northeastern New Mexico. Capulin, Spanish for “chokecherry,” is a cinder cone volcano that was active from 1.7 to 0.04 million years ago. Tourists can visit the dormant volcano and its surrounding lava flow fields year round.

This geological monument attracts tourists from all over. Astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke of the Apollo 16 mission trained for their mission at the monument in the spring of 1971. Tourists can experience the various geological ash, cinder, and lava formations on five trails ranging from a ten-minute stroll to a more complex 0.2 mile to 2 mile hikes into the volcano and around the lava flow fields.

The shortest trail is next to the visitors’ center when you first enter the park. Visitors can experience close-up views of the prairie landscape and lava “squeeze-ups,” which are mounds of lava that flowed out of a fissure in the lava flow field. This is the only ADA accessible trail and the only trail that allows pets. The narrow Volcano Road takes visitors to the top of the 8,182 ft (2494 m) volcano where the trail heads for Crater Vent Trail and Crater Rim Trail are located. The shortest trail, The Crater Vent Trail, which is paved, descends 105 feet into the volcano where hikers can view the now-plugged vent of the Capulin volcano. Crater Rim Trail is another paved trail that takes visitors on a one mile loop of moderate to steep ascents, offering a 360-degree view of the Raton-Clayton volcanic field.

More challenging hikes are the Lava Flow Trail and the Boca Trail. Lava Flow Trail is a one mile unpaved loop on the south side of the volcano and takes hikers through the first and second lava flows of Capulin. Hikers will experience steep sections and rugged, exposed lava. Boca Trail takes hikers across parts of all four lava fields that include lava lakes, lava tubes, and a spatter hill. This trail takes hikers into the main vent, or boca (“mouth” in Spanish), of Capulin as well. Boca is a more strenuous hike compared to the Lava Flow Trail, so wear appropriate footwear and clothing. Nature outlooks exist on both trails.

Other attractions in this national monument are the uninterrupted vistas from the top of Capulin. You can see the volcanic field and the snow capped Sangre De Cristo mountains to the west, wildlife, and the visitors’ center offers plenty of educational experiences. All trails are hiking only. Visitors are prohibited from bringing vehicles, including strollers, onto trails except on the Nature Trail by the visitors center.

The monument is International Dark-Sky Association Gold Tier Certified, meaning the area has some of the darkest skies in the entire country. Astrological events happen regularly, and for more information dial 575-278-2201. Attendees should wear jackets, long pants, and closed toed shoes for the evening events.

Please check the weather before your visit as severe weather may close Volcano Road.

More information about the park, including park closures and updates, go to www.nps.gov/cavo.

Address is:

Capulin Volcano National Monument

PO Box 40

Des Moines, NM 88418

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Entrance Fee


Easy to access. Geology.



Pets allowed

Not Allowed


ADA accessible
Vault toilet
Covered picnic areas
Flushing toilets
Family friendly
Potable water
Picnic tables
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Guided tours
Bird watching



Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.