Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Take a Road Trip to an Ice Cave and Volcano

Road trip!   We love road trips.   I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck are in the car, waiting for our moms.   Like many road trips, there is no rigid schedule.   We are not sure where we are going or when we will return.   Heading in the general direction of the Grand Canyon, but wanting to see things much different also, from Denver we head south on I-25.   Along the way we see several pronghorn, or American antelope.

Pronghorn or American antelope

We often just call these animals antelope.   They are the second fastest animal in the world, behind the cheetah.   Of course, they are the fastest animal in North America.   These animals appear so delicate and graceful.   We love them.   In Albuquerque we leave I-25, heading west on I-40.   This is still rather high in elevation and somewhat mountainous, so the heat is not a problem.   We are near Grants, New Mexico.   Let’s go to the ice cave.   We were here in March 2016, but we want to see it again.  The ice cave is located on the Continental Divide.

Inside we pay our fee, get our map and look at the museum stuff.

There are several dormant volcanos in this area of New Mexico, and the ice cave is inside a partially collapsed  lava tube.   As we walk to the cave, we admire this old, twisted tree.

Ducks sitting on twisted tree with old lava behind and to the right.

And we rest for a moment here.   Ducks have short legs you know.   Last year we showed you some of the things along the way, so we won’t repeat it.   Now, down 70 stairs to the ice cave.

Down the stairs to the ice cave.  And still more stairs!

Photos are difficult here for mom, but this ice is deep and old.

This is really old ice

The temperature dropped as we reached the bottom of the stairs.   There are two levels to see the ice, probably less than 10 feet apart, but the lower level is much colder.   This ice is about 20 feet deep.   The blue-green tint is from the natural Arctic algae.  The oldest ice is on the bottom, and is from 1100 A.D.  That is old!  New ice is added each year from rain and melting snow.   We love icicles.

Permanent icicles

Especially in the summer.   I don’t remember this sign from last year, but it explains a little about the ice never melting.   The temperature here on the ice never gets above freezing.

Inside a lava tube this ice does not melt

The lava tube is partially collapsed, so we can see outside.   We like this place.   If we are in the area again, we will probably stop again.   March 2016 was colder and windy when we were here, so we did not hike to the top of Bandera Volcano.   But today is nicer, so up the hill we go. We pass this lava formation.

Lava Arch

Continue climbing on the path, we reach the top of Bandera Volcano.

At the top looking into Banderas Volcano

The elevation here is 8,122 feet.   This volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago.   The crater is well preserved.

Looking into Banderas Volcano

It is about 1,400 feet wide and 800 feet deep.   This is considered a fragile environment as rocks and other items slide into the crater.   On mom’s phone it indicates we climbed 18 flights of stairs to reach the top of the volcano.   The path was gentle so we enjoyed the climb.   Back down near the tourist store, I liked this cactus growing by the old shed.

Cactus near old shed

And look at this gas pump.

Old gas pump. They sure look different now.

Today’s gas stations and gas pumps certainly look different.   This is great place to hike and see different things.   For more information visit http://www.IceCaves.com  We think you would enjoy stopping here when you are in the area.  We continue driving west on I-40.   Stay with us to see where we stop next.

 

 

 

An Ice Cave in New Mexico with Zeb, Soapy Smith and JB Duck

We are going inside a 10,000 year old lava tube to see an ice cave.   Wow!   We have never done anything like this.   Grants, New Mexico is a few miles south of I-40, and home to the Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

Here we are at the entrance to the ice cave and Bandera volcano.

We are in the West Central Zuni Mountain Range, on the continental divide.   First we stop at the Ice Cave Trading Post.

The Ice Cave Trading Post

The Ice Cave Trading Post

This is a combination museum, gift shop, information station and where we pay and register to visit the ice cave.   The artifacts and ancient pottery on display are 800-1,200 year old.   This is privately owned property, so we are happy they let tourists visit the ice cave.   The Bandera Volcano erupted about 10,000 years ago, creating lava tubes, leaving volcanic rock and making conditions right for the ice cave.   We are following an ancient lava trail to the ice cave.   This lava rock was tossed all over the ground.

Scattered lava rocks

Scattered lava rocks

Along the way, we are enthralled by these ancient twisted trees.

Ancient twisted tree

Ancient twisted tree

This hole in the ground, insulated by lava rock, served as a natural underground refrigerator, before electricity was available here.

Natural underground refrigerator

Natural underground refrigerator

The native American Indians occupied this land for years.   This cave entrance in the back of the photo, is really an entrance to a lava tube.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Native American Indians used the lava tube like a cave.

Continuing along the lava trail, we go down 3 flights of open stairs for a total of 69 steps.   We are going into the partially destroyed lava tube.

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

Lave tube with top collapsed. Stair railing on the left

We will never be completely underground and in the dark, as the top of the lava tube is partially collapsed.   We are almost at the ice cave.   This sign explains what we are seeing.   The temperature on the ice never exceeds 31 degrees F.

Why does it stay frozen?

Why does it stay frozen?

And it gets hot here in the New Mexico desert during the summer.   This is the ice of the ice cave.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

Ice is very old and never gets above freezing.

We are here, but mom could not get good photos of us and the ice.

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

Soapy and JB Duck at the Ice Cave

The ice shows blue and green colors, reflected from the sun.

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

Colors reflect on ice and on rocks

This is the first time we were in a lava tube and this is our first ice cave.   Leaving the ice cave, we appreciated the red bark on these trees.

Love the red bark on this tree

Love the red bark on this tree

We hope you will visit an ice cave soon.   It is really interesting to see.   When you come here, you can also walk to the top of the volcano.   It was very windy when we were there and we have seen volcanos, so we did not walk to the top this time.   Maybe next time if it is not so windy.   This is the last stop on our desert road trip.   We really enjoyed all the places we visited and the things we saw.   We hope  you also enjoyed seeing this part of the United States with us.