Valley of Fires

Location: Carrizozo, New Mexico
Date: September 15, 2013

My original plan for September 15 (after hiking to Sierra Blanca on the 14th) was to do a 10-15-mile loop hike through the northern portion of Lincoln National Forest's Smokey Bear Ranger District - possibly through Argentina Canyon and to Argentina and Nogal peaks. But forest road 107 into the area from state road 37 was in terrible condition. The previous year the Little Bear Fire had burned most of the forest in the area, and it had also rained for each of the six days prior to my visit. So it appeared that road 107 had gone unrepaired for quite a while and was covered in potholes, ponds, mound of sediment, and other obstacles.

I instead went to the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, just northwest of Carrizozo, which is a relatively short drive from the above mentioned portion of Lincoln National Forest. The main part of the recreation area consists of a campground, a paved trail, and a visitor center. For being a Bureau of Land Management site, this area has some nice facilities, albeit a quite limited trail system.

The Valley of Fires is also known as the Carrizozo Malpais and is a large lava field that was last active about 5000 years ago and covers 126 square miles. The short 0.84-mile round trip trail through the lava field has some interpretive signs, but you're free to go off the trail and explore as much of the area as you want.

For more information see my track on AllTrails.

A 400-year old juniper tree

© Copyright 2017 Matthew Pintar. All rights reserved.


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