New Mexico is home to some stunning natural features, with soaring rock formations and scenic landscapes. While many are formed over the ages, one of the most dramatic features appeared very suddenly. The Bandera Volcano and accompanying Ice Cave are just a quick trip from Gallup, so plan your visit to New Mexico’s Land of Fire and Ice!
Spanning 1,400 feet wide and opening 800 feet into the earth, the Bandera Volcano is a prime example of an erupted cinder cone and lava field. This is a rare geological feature in the U.S., and it was only formed 10,000 years ago. An eruption on the Continental Divide tore a massive crater into the landscape, resulting in a lava flow that wound its way across the wilderness for 23 miles. Today, this extraordinary geological event is evidenced by the tremendous cone rising up from the ground, and you can take a trail up to see it for yourself. With a gradual elevation increase of 150 feet, the volcano trail leads to an amazing vista where you can see the result of one of nature’s most furious events.
The Ice Cave
Caves often maintain a steady temperature year-round, and the Ice Cave is never warmer than a chilly 31 decrees F. The cave is part of the volcano’s old lava tube, and its constant freezing temperature has created the perfect environment to ice to form. This process has continued for more than 3,000 years, fed by snow melt and rain, and insulated by lava rock. As you descend to the viewing platform within the cave, you’ll experience a drop in the temperature around you, just as you’re greeting by a serene alcove of naturally green and blue perpetual ice. As you take in the natural wonder, it’ll be easy to see why the Ice Cave has served as a culturally significant place for the people living on this land for centuries.
The Trading Post
In addition to the main geological features, you can see artifacts from the site’s history at the Trading Post. There, you’ll see ancient items on display that suggest what life was like in the region years ago, and the gift shop sells geological souvenirs so that you can bring some of the earth’s natural beauty home with you. They also have a gemstone mining sluice where you can pan for minerals and arrowheads.
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While you’re out, we hope you’ll come to see us at Amigo Toyota in Gallup!
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