From the crest of Capulin Volcano National Monument, elevation 8,182 feet, you can see four states: Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. To the southeast is the vast section of the Santa Fe Trail that includes the Cimarron Cutoff; to the west are the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Unlike much of the dry surrounding territory, Capulin has enough water to support an oasis of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. A narrow 2-mi paved road leads to the rim of the volcano; from there you can walk the final 0.2 mi into the extinct, and not especially dramatic, crater vent. (An easy-to-hike 1-mi trail circles the rim, so you can see it from different angles.) The cone of Capulin (the word is Spanish for "chokecherry"; these bushes are scattered across the area) rises more than 1,300 feet from its base. The visitor center has books, a brief video about the site, and interpretive exhibits.
To reach Capulin via scenic NM 72 and NM 325, allow about an hour and 15 minutes; it's a quicker 40-minute drive from Raton if you drive here by way of U.S. 64/87, which passes through ranch country underneath the biggest, bluest skies imaginable. Antelope herds graze alongside cattle. This is the classic West, with old windmills jutting into the sky of the rimrock country. The first 30 mi west from Capulin passes through the Raton-Clayton volcano field, where the cones of quiet volcanoes break the flat, green landscape. From Capulin to Clayton, it's about an hour's drive east on U.S. 64/87. NM 325, 3 mi north of Capulin off U.S. 64, Raton, New Mexico, 88414, United States