Monday morning with only an hour's travel from Gallup to Grant's New Mexico, we enjoyed a lazy morning and did not get the jacks up until 10:00 am. We arrived and searched for one of the few campsites available at a Good Sam Park. A lot of the sites are taken up with seasonal workers it seems. As the clouds were coming in, there was no point taking pictures of the El Malpais National Monument area. We decided to take the short trip to Blue Water Lake State Park instead. Very disappointing. The pictures on google must have been well before the water levels went down as now it is more of a large pond. It definitely shows how "water poor" the lower states are. The parks people are doing a lot of work though, with new park facilities being built. No one was camping there today.
Before picture 2009
|Look at the boat ramp high and dry Oct 2016|
Tuesday morning, as it was still cloudy, we decided to see the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano first on our way to the El Morro National Monument. After leaving the Trading Post you take a short walk down a trail with lava on both sides showing collapsed lava tubes and even an old Anasazi ruin, you come to the staircase down to the ice cave. It was really cool, literally. You could definitely feel the temperature difference as you descended down the staircase to the viewing platform over the ice. Apparently it stays at 31 F. year round. The ice cave was formed after the collapse of a 17.5 mile long lava tube from the Bandera Volcano that blew over 10,000 years ago, which is also on the property. This ice cave is around 8000 feet and the viewing platform to see the crater is 200' higher.
|Anasazi Ruins ... stacked stones under the pocket of lava.|
|Dem bones dem bones in the lava flow ... close to Halloween.|
|Stairs down to the ice cave.|
|Lava flow from the top of the volcano ... it went 23 miles.|
|The cone is 1400 feet wide and 800 feet deep.|
|The Continental Divide runs along the left ridge of the cinder cone.|
The Trading Post and property have been in the same family for 3 generations. The trading post acted as a saloon and store years ago servicing the community. When the community for the most part dispersed, the host's grandma said she wanted the saloon closed and wanted the property to become a tourist attraction.
|Trading Post (Old Saloon and Store)|
Below the house as it is now. Other than new blue roof tiles the rest of the facade is in need of repairs.
Once back on the highway we headed to El Morro National Monument. It is one of the smaller monuments with only 1000 acres. The main feature of this place is the Inscription Rock, a huge sandstone bluff. El Morro is Spanish for "the headland or the bluff". Travelers stopped at El Morro for centuries to drink from these reliable waters. There is no spring. The pool is fed largely by rainfall in July, August and September and by melting snows. The black stripes that ribbon down the cliff face are the "spillways". When full the pool is about twelve feet deep and holds about 200,000 gallons of water. The pool never empties but evaporation can shrink it from its banks until it is refilled by precipitation.
|Cliff Swallow nests. They come every spring.|
(Picture from Google)
The first governor of New Mexico in 1605, Don Juan de Onate.
Ramon Garcia Jurado passed through here 25 June 1709 likely on a campaign against the Navajo. This inscription was darkened by a graphite pencil in the 1930's, a practice they parks people no longer do.
Some of the oldest inscriptions are petrogylphs.
A great walk and very interesting. The trail continues up to the top of the bluff to see some old Anasazi Ruins but we did not do the 1 1/2 mile trail up 300 feet to see the ruins at the top and then take the 130 + stairs back down. Although the ruins contain over a hundred rooms, they have only excavated about 10 of them.
Time to go home and let Freya out of the coach. It's nice to plug in to have the A/C on for her back at camp. Tomorrow El Malpais National Monument.
After getting some laundry done and a big breakfast with Freya in tow we drove to the El Malpais National Monument. Most of the monument highlights the huge lava flow in the valley. At one time there were 29 volcanos in the chain and they all exploded. The lava field is huge. We've never seen anything like it.
|The highway along the lava field|
Further down the road is the La Ventana Arch. The colours in the sandstone are spectacular.
The next area is "The Narrows". This is were the lava flowed right up to the base of the sandstone cliffs.
Driving by these bluffs Ray spotted another smaller arch and a "window.
After reaching the Narrow's Picnic Site we decided to turn around as this road goes for miles and miles. The drive today was much shorter so we spent the afternoon doing chores in preparation for our departure tomorrow.