Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Valley of Fires Recreational Area, New Mexico

The Valley of Fires Recreation Area is an interesting place and a great place to camp on a street bike. (See my previous post for more pictures and information about Valley of Fires). Located just west to the small town of Carrizozo, NM. The Valley is covered with miles of lava rock, which originated from several volcanoes, including one vent known as Little Black Peak which is located 9 miles away. The lava here is called the malpais (Spanish for 'badlands').

The volcanic action responsible for this was somewhat recent, between 1500-1000 years ago. Unlike other places, here the lava has become overgrown with vegetation but is very well preserved. The pressure ridges and different types of lava flows are visible throughout the area.

My tent side #22 and the cool volcanic rock

My alarm went off inside my tent this morning just before 5:30AM. Just like yesterday, I opened my eyes inside the tent but couldn’t see the sun. I looked kind of dark out there. Was the sun not out yet? Or was it just hiding? As I contemplated the situation I noticed the faint sound of rain drops on my rain fly. A rain drop here and there, everyone once in a while. Not even enough to really call it rain. On that note, I reset my alarm clock for 6:30AM and went back to sleep.

The road through the Valley of Fires, you can see the black lava rock from anywhere in the park

View of the camp ground from the observation hill, developed and electric camp sites are are all up on this hill, the tent sites are further down the hill near the black lava rocks way in the distance

Looking toward highway 380 and the modern bathroom facilities (red building with green roof) these camp sites are all developed sites

When the alarm went off for the second time, it was really time to get up. I had a hike to do this morning. The sky was overcast and the air seemed cool, but not cold. I grabbed a Luna breakfast bar, some water and headed toward the hiking trail.

The nature trail

On the nature trail

Views from the nature trail

The 3/4 mile nature trail at the Valley of Fires Rec. Area was all paved. There were some really cool lava rocks here and I was amazed how much vegetation was growing out of these black volcanic rocks, including some beautiful and unique flowers. Since I have never been this close to lava rocks, I thought the nature trail was pretty cool, not for hiking as much, but to get a closer look at this unique terrain.

These were my favorite flowers here

A close-up of these very interesting flowers

Other cool flowers that make their home on the lava rock

After I was done with the short hike, the clouds started to disappear and the sun started to come out. The huge modern building that housed the bathroom and showers was totally empty. The showers were great, three to choose from and free. I got back to my campsite and started to pack it up. By 11AM I was on the road again, but even though I was in motion and heading north, I wasn’t quite sure where I was going yet.


Payne said...

Nice closeups of the flowers! That looks like a really cool place.

EJY said...

So, what camera and lens are you using? I admire the sharpness and the way the colors "pop" in your photos. I have been motorcycle camping since the 70's and enjoy reading your reports and looking at your pictures. I wish I had more spare time to ride out into the world more. You provide for me and others a vicarious "trip of the mind". Thank you.