|The Land of Fire and Ice
by Stormy on June 27, 2005
10,000 years ago there was a volcanic eruption in New Mexico. I just got the memo!
The destination for the day was Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave Park in Grants. Getting there was a bit tricky, but we had plenty of time and the drive was very scenic. Bandera Volcano is an extinct volcano that created tremendous lava flows. Its main lava tube is said to be 17 miles long. About half a mile of that is on the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave Park property. The site is actually a mom and pop operation with a shack for a gift shop and a self guided one page tour that costs $8 to purchase (per person). There are two segments to the tour. Phase 1 is hiking up to Bandera Volcano to look down into the belly of the beast. There's no lava here now, but there are a lot of volcanic features all over the place and it's easy to tell that this was a very active area at one time. The volcano itself is one of 18 in this area and the crater is a quarter mile across and 800 feet deep. That's big enough to house a stadium! Phase 2 is hiking to the other end of the property among the pits leading down to the lava tube to the one section where the shape of the tube and weather conditions allowed ice to form. The "ice cave" is just a pit, but the ice is real and there's a ton of it. Each time it rains, the water that runs down into the pit freezes up, adding additional layers to the ice already there. The temperature in the chamber stays at a fairly constant 31 degrees, just chilly enough to allow additional ice to constantly form. I can't say that any of what I saw is world shattering in its excitement, but on a 100+ degree day, a 31 degree room sure makes you appreciate mother nature's thoughtfulness.
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