We were in Grants, New Mexico. There is no shortage of things to see and do in this area. Our motorhome was situated at the Bar S RV Park in Milan, about seven miles from Grants. It was in this are that we hiked trails in the El Malapais National Park and Reserve. We hiked the lava fields here and the Sandstone Bluffs.
But one of the coolest (pun intended) things we ever saw was the ice cave under the Bandera Volcano, also known as The Land of Fire and Ice. It is privately owned and is located on Highway 53, about two miles past the El Malapais Visitor Center.
The volcano rose up and blew its top about 10,000 years ago. A lava trail leads to a collapsed lava tube. Inside the ice cave the temperature never rises above 31°F. The ice is green and thick. Birds make their nests in the rocks that make the outer perimeter. The steps going into the cave are steep and wooden, but there are a couple of places to stop and rest.
We also hiked up to the cone. The sign said the trail was only 1/2 mile. It was steep, and even in the morning, the temperature rose quickly and the air got pretty thin. It is necessary to take bottled water on the hike.
There are signs along the lower trail (which are numbered) identifying trees and shrubs along the way. The inverted cone at the top of the trail was astonishing. It was 800 feet deep and 1,200 feet across.
This photo shows the water dripping and forming icicles inside the cave under the Bandera Volcano. The green on the rocks is a mixture of moss and mold. It is possible that green gems may have been formed in some of the rocks as the lava heated and cooled the minerals inside the volcano many years.
The emerald green ice inside the cave.
Bubbles freeze as they drop as water from the ceiling of the cave
The view of the crater from the top of the trail. Notice how tall the tree is on the side of the crater.
Here we are, my husband and me, on the trail to the top of the crater.