Chain Of Craters Wilderness

Grants, New Mexico 87020

Chain Of Craters Wilderness

Chain Of Craters Wilderness Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Cinder cones are huge piles of material spewed from a volcanic vent. Nothing fancy—just bits of rock that were shot into the air and then fell nearby to form a conical mound. Most of the rocks are pebble-sized and called cinders; larger rocks shot higher may cool slightly on the trip down and form volcanic bombs, distinguished by their striated appearance. The resulting piles can rise several hundred feet, forming round hills with small craters in the center.

The Chain of Craters Wilderness in El Malpais holds more than two dozen cinder cones that rise as much as 500 feet from the surrounding plain, and the Continental Divide Trail meanders through the chain for 20 miles. By setting up a shuttle, this relatively easy hike through the waterless piñon-juniper woodland and sparse ponderosa pine stands surrounding the craters makes an exciting two-day backpack; other hikers may simply want to explore the craters as an out-and-back trip from the northern parking area."

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Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
March through mid-May
USGS Cerro Hueco and Cerro Brilliante
Local Maps

Trail Log