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Shauna’s back to share her New Mexico travel adventure at the state’s coolest volcano. You can read more about Shauna’s family excursions over at Pure Wander.

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There’s nothing like road tripping on a bright, blue, beautiful, clear day. Our latest road trip took us to the northeastern tip of New Mexico on Route 325 where we drove past Capulin Volcano with a car load of household items, two furry friends and a 4-year-old who had been confined for days. Luckily for us, the best trips you have are sometimes the ones you didn’t know you were taking.

Heading out of Texas up to Colorado, Capulin National Monument stands tall amongst the small rolling hills of Northern New Mexico. It isn’t imposing, and we probably wouldn’t have noticed among the other hills if we hadn’t seen the signs leading up to it. The roadway is littered with bright yellow flowers, and the volcano appears almost out of nowhere. My hubby INSISTED that we make the stop, so we did, even though the road looked a little steep for my liking.

New Mexico travel

We stopped into the visitor center to pay our $5 entrance fee, and I was given a junior ranger packet for my young son. We continued driving on the road which winds up around the volcano all the way to the peak, and by “we”, I mean my husband. From the passenger’s seat the edge of the road was a mere two feet away. The edge of the road clearly dropped straight down as it was situated right by tree tops. As lovely as the view was, my fear of heights was too great, and I spent the entire ride up turned to face the back seat to assist my little guy write his name and draw a volcano in his workbook instead of having a panic attack.

Thankfully, it didn’t take too long. Finally breathing again, I hopped out of my seat and stepped onto the firm ground—a good bit away from the edge. Because our cat and dog were along for the ride, and pets aren’t allowed on the trails, hubby and I took turns walking the trails up around the rim with our son. For cat pet owners, your cat might be allergic to certain smells so you must be careful when you let them join your trip somewhere!

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After the steep climb to the 8,182-foot peak, although we were a tad breathless, we were in awe of the view. Even my four-year-old was impressed. We took some photos of him with a backdrop of the volcanic fields and a view of four states: New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas.

“What’s that Mommy?”

“Look a cactus!”

“Mommy, use the railing please.”

“Are we going to see a rattlesnake?”

Shit, were we going to see a rattlesnake? None of the little buggers showed up during our visit, but I definitely kept an ear open the entire time.

The ride down was much better, as I was situated close to the volcano on the inside part of the road. We stopped once more at the visitor center and my son received a Junior Park Ranger badge and took an oath to take care of our US National Parks.

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A small 30-minute unplanned excursion can make everyone’s road trip better. That trip was a month ago, and he still wears his badge proudly and tells everyone who will listen about how he visited a real-life volcano and almost saw a rattlesnake.

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