Using Grants, New Mexico our base we first visited the New Mexico Mining Museum in Grants which outlined the history of the uranium mining industry in the area. One of the exhibits was a replica of a uranium mine which explained the mining process. Very informative.
From Grant we drove to the El Morro National Monument. On a main east-west trail, dating from antiquity, rises a great sandstone promontory with a pool of water at its base. The Zuni Indians, whose Puebloan ancestors lived here, called it Atsinna-“place of writings on the rock”. The Spaniards called it El Morro- The Headland. Anglo-Americans called it Inscription Rock. Over the centuries those who travelled this trail stopped to camp at the shaded oasis under the cliffs. They left carved evidence of their passage- symbols, names, dates, and fragments of their stories. A wall of history, which was fascinating to look at and read about the history attached to each inscription.
From El Morro, we then went to the Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave where we walked up to the Bandera Volcano Crater. This volcano erupted around 10,000 years ago. The crater is nearly 1400 feet wide at the top and roughly 800 deep. After that we then walked down to the Ice Cave where the temperature never gets above 31F The floor of cave has ice of 20 feet thick. The deepest ice is the oldest and dates back 3400 years.
Our final stop was the El Malpais National Monument. The area is a huge area of former larva flows and includes jagged spatter cones, a lava tube cave system extending at least 17 miles and ice caves. We took a walk through the lava fields.