VALLEY OF FIRE

The Valley of Fires is a lava flow that originated in the central part of New Mexico. It is a lava flow that is approximately 2 miles wide and over 20 miles long. It is not a national monument, but the Bureau of Land Management maintains a very nice and clearly marked path that is about 1.5 miles long and is not hard to climb over. The photograph below left is part of the marked path. 

The picture to the right is a perfect example of Lava ropes (pahoehoe), which are a form of hot liquid lava that has cooled off to form these uniquely volcanic features. Although in studying ocean, river, or lake floors, one sees wave-like patterns, , they are clearly not roped. After the lava begins to flow, you can see the lava cooling off a little at the surface and finally like molasses is flowing over itself yet not able to overrun itself, cools forming the lava ropes you see here. They are seen throughout the park so keep looking.

As you can see from the photograph below, you can clearly see the lava ropes as they pushed up towards the front of the flow, but were suddenly cooled off and are forming the traditional rope features. To the far left you can see one of the most common form of desert plants. The Road log below will get you to the Valley Of Fire. There are a few picnic tables at the top of the valley overlooking the entire lava flow, so if you like having a picnic overlooking a breathtaking view, just pull out your cooler, bring on the drinks and enjoy.

 Since The Valley Of fire located just north of Alamogordo, The directions are rather simple. First you leave UTEP heading east on Interstate 10 and stay in the middle or right lane until you get to the Patriot freeway.

 Follow this freeway north until you get to the city limits heading towards Alamogordo. At this point the freeway is now marked as highway 54. You will pass through Oro Grande a very small township with only a few buildings. Pass through this sleepy little town or stop off at the rock shop on the right side of the street, about half way through the town. They do have an excellent selection of rocks crystals and minerals to choose from.

 After passing through Oro Grande, you may be stopping by the Border Patrol checkpoint, if it is open. You will only have to open the window and declare your citizenship, but that's about it.

 As you approach Alamogordo, you should be prepared to stop at the light with a Wal-Mart to your left. Pass and follow the turn to the right heading into Alamogordo. You will not deviate from this street, so Cross over the bridge and stay on this street until you exit Alamogordo on the other end.

 Exiting Alamogordo, you will stay on this street after it splits into a divided highway. It will lead you to the little town of Tularosa, which is the cut off to the Lincoln National Forrest. One piece of advice, as you approach the intersection, you will notice that it curves to the right while 54 is actually a turn to the left and up straight ahead. In Tularosa follow the signs for highway 54 and you'll do fine. If your confused, stop at the gas station between highway 54 and the drive to Ruidoso and Lincoln National Forrest.

 Follow Highway 54 north out of Tularosa and continue about 15-20 minutes and the road will automatically curve off to the right and say you are heading into Carrizozo but you will end up crossing the lava flow before arriving in the small town. Immediately after crossing the flow you will see the street to the right into the small visitors center and bookstore. There is plenty of parking so enjoy your stay, and have an unforgettable picnic on the lava flow.

Special Thanks to Dr. BETSY JULIAN and Dr. JERRY HOFFER

Foe Their Invaluable contributions and knowledge.

This page created by Markus G. Boenisch