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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.

Stormy is a tourist. Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave is a fun place to tour.
(taken by Max on June 27, 2005)
Volcanic features are everywhere you look!
(taken by Jennifer on June 27, 2005)
The crater of the Bandera Volcano is breathtaking. Imagine eruptions strong enough to move the side of a mountain!
(taken by Jennifer on June 27, 2005)
Yes, Stormy likes caving in lava tubes, too.
(taken by Max on June 27, 2005)
The bottom of the Ice Cave pit. The ice is green due to arctic algae living in it.
(taken by Jennifer on June 27, 2005)
Stormy gets his butt chilled over the ice.
(taken by Max on June 27, 2005)
The back wall is decorated with icetites (ice stalactites) and flowice (ice flowstone). Centuries of history are tied up in the layers of the ice.
(taken by Max on June 27, 2005)
The view back up from the Ice Cave pit.
(taken by Max on June 27, 2005)


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