Today, we took a short hike in the park. First, we walked up to the high point in the campground. This gave a great view of the lava flow.
Next, we walked the nature trail.
This area is part of the Tularosa Valley and the lava flow is many square miles of basalt lava. The flow up to 165 feet thick and over 45 miles long and up to 3 miles wide from several volcanos. All of the volcanos are dormant and there are no indications that any will ever erupt again. The oldest source of lava was about 5,000 years ago and the most recent about 1,000 years ago. Little Black Peak was the last source. It is about 9 miles northwest of the park.
As the lava flowed down and cooled, it cracked and buckled into huge pieces of rock. The area becomes incredibly hot in the summer. The area was impassable by foot or horse until a highway was made to cross the flow.
The lava is perfect to collect blowing dust and dirt. This has allowed soil to build on the surface of the flow to the point that gnarled looking juniper and mesquite trees, yucca, cactus, and some prairie grasses grow. Several animals have found a home including bats and bees that use the old lava tubes, rabbits, roadrunners, cactus wrens, sparrows, and even some burrowing and great horned owls along with hawks and the golden eagle. There are several types of lizard and snakes but those were not out to be seen. This time of year only some small wrens and a few cardinals are obvious.
It was a nice trail if a bit chilly because of the wind blowing out of the north.
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