Capulin Volcano National Monument

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this Audio-Described Brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Capulin Volcano National Monument's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the classic two-sided color brochure that park visitors receive. The brochure touches on the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 23 minutes, which we have divided into seven sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. The first section is a general overview of Capulin Volcano National Monument.  Sections two through seven are titled: Introductory Photos, The Mountain Tells Its Story, Planning Your Visit, Walk on a Volcano, Getting to the Park, and Monument Map and Lava Flows.

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OVERVIEW: Capulin Volcano National Monument

Capulin Volcano National Monument is a unit of the National Park Service located in Northeast New Mexico near the Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma Panhandle borders.

This unique and dramatic landscape where the Rocky Mountains transition into the Great Plains is characterized by volcanic activity and known as the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field.  The 8,000-square-mile volcanic field is home to over 120 volcanoes including Capulin Volcano.

American Indians have been present in the area for at least 10,000 years.  The Folsom site, located less than 8 miles away from Capulin Volcano, was excavated in 1926 and found to have been a marsh-side kill site or camp where 23 Bison antiquus had been killed using distinctive tools, known as Folsom points.  Until the arrival of the Spanish in 1541, Native American tribes, such as the Jicarilla Apache and the Ute, used this region as hunting grounds.  Today, many tribes consider Capulin Volcano as a sacred site.

In 1891, Inspector W.D. Harlan of the General Land Office convinced Secretary of the Interior John Noble to withdraw Capulin Mountain from "settlement or other disposition under any of the public land laws until such time as Congress may see fit."  Harlan along with the local community desired to protect Capulin and promote tourism.  He claimed Capulin "is the most perfect specimen of extinct volcanoes in North America."

On August 9, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson used the Antiquities Act to declare Capulin Mountain National Monument "a striking example of recent extinct volcanoes and is of great scientific and especially geologic interest."  Capulin Mountain's name was changed to Capulin Volcano in 1987.

Today, visitors to Capulin Volcano enjoy this perfect cinder cone along with the natural and cultural resources and stories protected by the National Park Service.  We invite you to enjoy your monument and its spectacular recreational and educational opportunities such as hiking, wildlife viewing, birding, history, an internationally designated night sky, and more.  Adventure is waiting!

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OVERVIEW: Front Side of Brochure

The brochure is organized into four sections oriented horizontally across the page.  Each of these sections is equal to an entire row in length.  

The first row is a single photograph with a black banner header across the top which identifies as Capulin Volcano, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Monument, New Mexico.

The second row is a line of four pictures with a brief description of each picture located just beneath. 

The third row is text across two columns.

The fourth row starts with a small picture approximately a third of the width of the brochure with a brief description and credit just below.  The picture is followed by text flowing right spanned across two columns.

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IMAGE: Capulin Volcano


A thick mixture of grasses fill a rocky prairie. Some grasses are yellow and tall while others are short and green. They grow inconsistently in the foreground, interrupted only by large rough lava rock boulders, which are scattered across the landscape. The boulder nearest is dotted with colorful lichen. 

The prairie stretches back toward a large forested mountain, whose peak disappears into the clouds.  The mountain is a volcano that slopes steeply on both sides. The right slope climbs briefly once again just before descending into the prairie. Clouds appear to be hugging the summit and ridgelines tightly. The clouds are approaching from behind the volcano and appear to be descending downslope toward the prairie and ultimately you. Some taller bushes make an appearance in the foreground. The entire scene is draped in warm sunlight.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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IMAGE: Ladybugs

DESCRIPTION: Close-up image of very rough and scaly bark.  The bark extends across the image diagonal up to the right, where a few ladybugs appear to wander. Toward the middle and lower left, ladybugs cluster tightly as they swarm over the bark and one another.  They are oval in shape with smooth red and rounded backs, which are dotted in small black spots of various sizes.  

CAPTION: Ladybugs swarm on park plants in summer.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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DESCRIPTION: A tree completely covered in bright white frost stands tall along a high and dry grassy slope, which towers above the surrounding plains. Its bark and clumps of needles are contrasted dramatically compared to its surroundings. The slope, on which it grows, steeply disappears into a low scrubby treeline.  The background is defined by a view of the plains far down below, which are dotted with independent mountains and flat mesas intersected by scatterings of tree growths.  A washed-out clouded sky looms above all.

CAPTION: Supercooled fog deposits delicate rime ice on vegetation.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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IMAGE: Choke Cherry

DESCRIPTION: The thin rough woody branch of a plant rises vertically, centered in the picture. It forks almost evenly, the right side slightly lower than the left. Fresh green stems with long green oval leaves jut out and up from the branch's ends before coming to a point.  A multitude of small round and red berries grow on the stems and gleam brightly in the warm light. 

CAPTION: Chokecherry (capulín in Spanish) gave the volcano its name.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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IMAGE: Mule Deer

DESCRIPTION: A small deer-like animal stares into the camera with a round black nose and curious eyes. She is light brown, with a long body and large teardrop-shaped ears. Tall, dry grass surrounds her, covering her hooves. Close behind the deer, dark green trees spread across the horizon. The branches and leaves create gaps for the startlingly bright blue sky. 

CAPTION: Mule Deer.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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TEXT: The Mountain Tells Its Story

The Capulin volcano erupted into existence 60,000 years ago. Firework-like rooster tails of glowing, superheated lava spewed high in the sky, solidified, and dropped back to Earth. The falling debris accumulated around the vent, forming a cinder cone volcano.

Capulin’s birth occurred toward the end of a period of regional volcanism that began 9 million years ago. You can see hills, peaks, and other formations from this period throughout the 8,000-square-mile Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. The largest is Sierra Grande, an extinct volcano rising 2,200 feet above the plain, about 10 miles southeast of Capulin. Bartlett, Raton, and Johnson are the largest lava-capped mesas to the northwest.

Capulin’s conical form rises over 1,300 feet above the plains, to 8,182 feet above sea level. The cone is chiefly loose cinders, ash, and other rock debris formed by gaseous lava that cooled quickly. The volcano’s symmetry was preserved because later lava flows did not come from the main crater but from its boca (Spanish for mouth), at the cone’s western base.

After the eruptions ceased, vegetation gained a foothold on the steep, unstable slopes. In time, the cinder cone stabilized as plants took root and natural forces slowly changed the volcanic rock into soil. The volcano straddles two habitats: the grassland of the plains and the forest of the mountains

Plants include prairie grasses and wildflowers, pinyon pine, ponderosa pine, and juniper. Legend has it that the volcano was named capulín (cah-poo-LEEN) after the Spanish word for chokecherry. This shrub grows throughout the park, along with mountain mahogany, scrub oak, and three-leaf sumac. Along Capulin’s trails you can see a variety of plants and animals. On a clear day, you can see New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma from the Crater Rim Trail’s highest point.

Capulin volcano is extinct, and cinder cones typically have only one period of activity. Although Capulin volcano will never erupt again, it’s possible that a new cinder cone could form elsewhere in the Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. An eruption near Capulin in our lifetime is unlikely, but it could happen.

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IMAGE: Wildflowers

DESCRIPTION: The foreground reveals dozens of sunflower-like wildflowers. They have long light-green stems and large heart-shaped leaves. At the top of the stems, bright yellow flowers with round, dark-brown centers grow in the warm daylight. The flowers create a large triangle shape in the right bottom corner of the frame. Behind the flowers, lays a field lush with grass and small bushes of different shades of green. Even further back, the brush transitions into a medium-sized mountain with cotton-like and deep green vegetation. Wispy clouds wrap around the tip of the mountain and the rest of the visible sky. 

CAPTION: Wildflowers flourish in the volcanic soil.

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

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TEXT: Planning Your Visit

This title represents the following text on the front of the brochure. 

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TEXT: Visitor Center

Start here for information, exhibits, a film, and a bookstore. It is open daily except Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. There is an entrance fee.

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TEXT: Activities

Picnicking, hiking, and birding are popular. The picnic area has water and restrooms. In late spring and early summer, depending on rainfall, wildflowers create a colorful mosaic among the cinders. Prominent are sunflower (left), lupine, golden pea, paintbrush, penstemon, and verbena. In spring, watch for bluebirds, warblers, black-headed grosbeaks, and goldfinches.

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TEXT: Services and Camping

The park has no food service, lodging, or camping; find these in nearby towns.

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TEXT: Safety and Regulations

Hike only on designated trails. The trails are maintained, but loose cinders or ice can make them dangerous. Wear sturdy shoes with nonslip soles.

•Fire is a potential danger; don’t smoke on trails.

 •Visitors with heart or respiratory conditions should use caution at this elevation.

•If you see a rattlesnake, stay calm, walk away slowly, and report it to a ranger.

•Pets must be leashed and attended. They are allowed only on the nature walk at the visitor center; they are prohibited from all other trails.

•Trailers of any length are prohibited on Volcano Road.

•Pedestrians and bicycles are not allowed on Volcano Road during park operating hours.

•Alcohol is prohibited.

•For firearms and other regulations, check the park website.

•Do not remove, disturb, or destroy any animals, plants, or geologic specimens; all are protected by federal law.

Emergencies call 911.

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OVERVIEW: Back Side of Brochure

The back of the include two maps and an aerial photo of the Capulin volcano. The largest of the two maps, about the Four Lava Flows, takes up about half of this side of the brochure.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Walk on a Volcano

DESCRIPTION: The large Capulin Volcano dominates the focus of this birds-eye side-view. The dark green volcano is cone-shaped with a large crater on its top that looks like a shallow bowl. The volcano is wider than it is tall and stretched across most of the image. Near the bottom of the volcano's right flank, is a light brown, winding road. The second part of the road can be seen near the top of the volcano's left flank. The bottom right of the volcano is scattered with several large and irregular-shaped fields. The beginning of the winding road starts adjacent to the farthest right field. To the left of the middle of the volcano, there is a star-shaped patch of dirt that has another road, that leads down the volcano, connected to it. Below the patches and fields, there are large clusters of dark green vegetation. The area visible outside the volcano is a mix of trees and light-brown dirt. Despite the many plants, this environment looks very dusty and dry. 

CREDIT: Laurence Parent.

RELATED TEXT: Did you ever wish you could walk on a volcano, perhaps even venture down into its crater? Capulin Volcano National Monument offers five trails that vary in difficulty and length. Those trails are described next.

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TEXT: Crater Rim Trail

Moderate: one-mile loop, paved. Enjoy spectacular 360-degree views. The trail skirts the rim in a series of moderate to steep ascents to the peak’s highest point—8,182 feet—and ends with a steep descent to the parking lot.

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TEXT: Crater Vent Trail

Moderate: 0.2 mile one way, paved. Trail descends 105 feet to the bottom of the crater, the plugged vent of Capulin volcano.

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TEXT: Nature Walk

Easy: (about 10 minutes), paved. Start at the visitor center for close-up views of prairie landscape and lava formations called squeeze-ups. Trail is wheelchair-accessible. Pets are allowed as long as they are on a leash.

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TEXT: Lava Flow Trail

Moderate to easy: one-mile loop, unpaved. There are some steep sections and rugged lava exposed on this otherwise easy trail.

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TEXT: Boca Trail

Strenuous: two-mile loop, unpaved. Trail goes across lava flows, with lava lakes, lava tubes, and a spatter hill along the way.

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MAP and TEXT: Getting to the Park


This navigational map is rectangular and shows the Capulin Volcano National Monument and the road system that surrounds it. North is to the top of the map. It primarily serves as a navigational aid to the area.

The monument is shown in relation to the New Mexico and Colorado border. That border is a relatively straight line on this map, from left to right, that separates the top quarter, as in Colorado, and the bottom three-quarters, as in New Mexico.

Capulin Volcano is roughly centered on the map, surrounded by a triangle of supporting highways. The base of this triangle is Highway 56, in the south, from Springer to Clayton. The west, or left, side of the shape is bounded by Highway 25 from Springer to Raton. Then, the east, or right, side of the triangle follows highways 64/87, which overlap, from Raton to Clayton. Between those points, the map also shows crossings of the Fort Union-Granada Road and the Cimmaron Route of the Santa Fe Trail. Highway 93 bisects the triangle, roughly in the middle, and provides a direct route connecting Highway 56 and 64/87.

The Mountain Route of the Sante Fe Trail is west of Highway 25 on the southern half of the map, near highways 21 and 64, but overlaps Highway 25 in the northern half of the map.

A major feature of the map is the Kiowa National Grasslands, which appears to be about 40 miles to the southeast of Capulin Volcano. It roughly marks the eastern edge of this map. 

The only other major landmark shown is the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, which fills the western edge of the map, about 40 miles west of Capulin Volcano.

RELATED TEXT: Capulin Volcano National Monument is in New Mexico’s northeastern corner. Enter the park from NM 325, three miles north of the town of Capulin. Capulin lies 58 miles west of Clayton on US 64 and 87, and 30 miles east of Raton and I-25.

Volcano Road may be closed by snow for a few days each winter.

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MAP and TEXT: Four Lava Flows

DESCRIPTION: In the center of the map, there is a green box that encapsulates the volcano and the attractions within it. The volcano is represented by an off-white area and its crater is shown with a darker white color. Both of these areas are shaded to create dimension. A thin black and curvy line goes through the base of the volcano and then spirals around its flanks. It reaches from the crater, at the top, to the picnic area at the bottom. At the end of the line, near the crater, it is labeled parking. A dark pink dotted line is connected to the parking line at its end near the crater. The pink line spirals around the rim and inside of the crater. The point where the spiral ends is labeled "Crater Vent Trail," and the right side of the spiral is labeled "Crater rim trail." To the left of the volcano, at its base, is another pink dotted line. This one is an irregular closed shape and is labeled "Boca Trail." Directly below the "Boca Trail" lies another pink line. This one is a strangely shaped arch and is labeled "Lava Flow Trail." At the bottom of the volcano, the black line forks. The first fork is a small black square that protrudes from its southern side. The second fork is a short and curvy line to the right of the square, it is labeled "Visitor Center" in large text. The third fork is another short and curvy line, but on its end, there is a circle. The circle at the end of the line is labeled "Picnic area." To the right of the mountain, still inside the box, there is a small text that reads "Capulin Mtn, 8182 ft, 2494 m." 

Outside of the green box, the Capulin's volcanic flows are depicted. The first flow, colored in purple, is the smallest and is located to the right of the volcano. It does not have a distinct shape, sort of circular in nature. The second flow, colored in gray, is about twice the size of the first and is located south of the volcano. The third flow, colored in light brown, is quite a bit bigger than the second flow and is located southwest of the volcano. The fourth and final flow, colored in light orange, is the largest of them all and is located north of the volcano. It stretches almost all the way to the top of the map. 

A thin black line, depicting a road, cuts through the entire map diagonally from the top right corner to the bottom middle of the map. The line is labeled "325." At the top of the line, it is labeled "To Folsom." A thin red line, another road, intersects with the black line near the bottom of the map. It stretches the entire width of the map and is labeled "64, 87." The right side of the line is labeled "To Des Moines," and the left side of the line is labeled "To Raton." Connected to the middle of the red road, there are fourteen small yellow boxes that are labeled "Capulin."

On the outskirts of the map, there are 3 labels that point out nearby landmarks. To the right of the middle, near the top of the map, a label says "Robinson Peak, 8040 ft, 2451m." Close to the top right of the Capulin's fourth flow, there's a label reading "Baby Capulin, 6890 ft, 2100 m." Slightly to the left and below Baby Capulin is another label, which reads "Mudhill, 7195 ft, 2194 m."

In the top right corner, there is a key that shows the relative distance of a mile and a kilometer on the map. Below the key, there is an arrow, encompassed by a circle, that is facing the top of the map, it is labeled "North." 

RELATED TEXT: Capulin volcano’s eruption produced two kinds of volcanic products: cinders or scoria (frothy chunks of volcanic rock) and lava flows. The eruption began with a northeast oriented fissure but eventually focused at a single, central vent. This eruption sent cinders high into the air that fell and piled up around the vent, producing the cinder cone.

Early in the eruption, the first of four lava flows spread eastward from the cinder cone’s base (first flow). Late in the eruption lava emerged from vents on the west side of the cone, now called the boca or mouth.

These flows spread south (second flow), southwest (third flow), and finally to the north (fourth flow). Some of the flows traveled through lava tubes that have since collapsed. Ripple-like marks on the lava surface, called pressure ridges, are perpendicular to the flow direction. These formed as the crust cooled while lava continued to flow un­derneath. Lava mounds, called tumuli or squeeze-ups, formed where the crust broke, and lava oozed out under pressure.

The lava flows extend far beyond the park boundary, which includes only the cinder cone and boca. Lava flows cover 15.7 square miles; you can see them best from the crater rim.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

The Visitor Center, restrooms, picnic area, nature trail, and Crater Rim parking area are wheelchair accessible. Service animals are welcome. 

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OVERVIEW: More Information

Capulin Volcano National Monument is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit


Des Moines, NM 88418

PHONE: 575-278-2201


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