Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Valley of Fires

We are staying in Capitan, NM (near Ruidoso) for about a week. This is an area that we frequented while we were still working, as it hosts the nearest mountains to central Texas and was always good for some cool summer weather. In fact, we awoke to 41 degrees this morning, so why not hang around for a bit?

We visited the nearby Valley of Fires for the first time. This is one of the youngest lava flows in the continental U.S., having occurred 1500 to 5000 years ago, This flow is 2 to 5 miles wide and 44 miles long. In places it is up to 165 feet thick.
Valley of Fires
We hiked a well-marked nature trail through the flow, The ground is highly irregular as the flow is pushed up into a series of pressure ridges separated by low spots.
Pressure Ridge
 It is amazing that there are any plants growing on this exposed rock, but there is actually quite a bit of variety out there.
Walking Stick Cholla
The most fertile areas were the low spots caused by collapsing lava bubbles.  These areas trap soil and moisture, and provided some shade from the intense sun. 
Collapsed Lava Bubble
We did find a few non-spiny plants on the moister areas, including this pretty little Mallow.
Salmon-Pink Globe Mallow
We were there mid-day so didn't see many animals out. But Teri did spot this lizard catching a few rays. 
Desert Spiny Lizard

1 comment:

  1. If I were as close as you are to Manny's Buckhorn I'd be making a quick trip over for one of those really good, really greasy Green Chile Cheeseburgers!!!! Makes me drool just thinking about it....