February 13, 2012—Nature does some awesome things. Here in New Mexico one of those things was a natural event that occurred 35 million years ago—a volcanic eruption. According to the literature, the eruption was at least 1000 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount St. Helena.
The result of the eruption was an outflow of volcanic ash that, over time, has been sculpted by wind and water into rows of monolithic blocks. From a distance, these rocks truly do look like a city, complete with buildings having “windows” facing out onto “streets”—natural lanes that meander throughout the rocks. This City of Rocks outside of Deming, N.M. is one of only six such known formations in the world.
|City of Rocks|
|One of the formations|
We visited the site today. It cost us only $5 (honor system) to visit this state park. Day visitors can either drive or hike among the rocks; we did both. Campers are also welcome. The state park has 62 sites, 52 for dry camping and 10 with electric and sewer. It would be a pretty cool place to picnic or camp, since the dry camp sites are adjacent to the rock formations.
|City of Rocks from a far distance|
|Same distance, but with telephoto lens|
After roaming around City of Rocks, we drove into Silver City, home of Billy the Kid. It is also the home of Western New Mexico University, which has a nice museum devoted to the Mimbres Indians, the prehistoric tribe that lived along the Mimbres River, near City of Rocks. The Mimbres were known for their intricately decorated black-on-white clay pottery. Silver City also has a museum, but it was closed today.
We found it interesting to observe the countryside between here (Hidden Valley Ranch outside of Deming) and Silver City, which is more than 6,400 feet in altitude. (City of Rocks is at 5,200 feet—about a mile high.) We experienced several changes in microclimates, visible by the changes in vegetation. Some places actually were filled with some types of fir trees!
We will be here a couple more days. Originally we planned to go see the cliff dwellings outside of Silver City tomorrow. However, the weather forecast suggested that it might snow in that area, so we are going to wait until Wednesday for that trip.
In the meantime, we are being entertained by a couple of jackrabbits that come out and play around sunset. We saw them last night, and they returned this evening. Unfortunately it was too dark and they were too far away for us to take pictures. Believe me, though, when I tell you that I’ve never seen a rabbit with such big ears!
Until next time,
Your Reluctant RoVer,