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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> My Adventure, Socorro - Jornada del Muerto Volcano
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08/08/2010 04:14:29 PM · #1
I recently traveled with my girlfriend to explore a little known, and rarely visited, area of New Mexico - as a matter of a fact, I dare you to find other modern images of this area, as they don't seem to exist. [Google Map]

The "destination" was the Jornada del Muerto volcano, located on a difficult to reach and remote section of land that is narrowly bordered by the White Sands Missile Range and Mr. Ted Turner's Armendaris Ranch, with a small BLM section directly in-between the two, which, wonderfully, and inconveniently is designated as a wilderness study area (no motorized traffic, this means walking over 'A'a type lava fields, fortunately unlike many of the local 'A'a volcanic terrain, this flow is roughly 750,000 years old, and therefore slightly more friendly to hiking..

So, first thing on our way out, we came across the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge train wreck which is of concern since oil may be leaking into the ponds.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902323.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902323.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Derailed Train

After climbing to the top of a nearby hill, I was able to get a broader overlook, here you can see why the spill is of concern (note the ponds to the right of this image)
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902341.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902341.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Kyla climbing the hill
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902342.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902342.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Bosque spill overview

After this, we continued to Elephant Butte, then into Truth or Consequences NM, where we enjoyed a very nice lunch, and set out into the area I wanted to explore.

Recent heavy monsoon rains had me somewhat concerned, as there was an area outside of town where it was very obvious that there had been significant flash flooding, in places there was debris piled as high as 20ft (no pics,, have no idea what I was thinking..).

As we started off road, I consulted the GPS trying to predict a usable route to get to my destination.. My choice of routes was probably a bit more adventurous than strictly necessary, but I love to explore those lesser used roads, as often they'll yield some very interesting discoveries.. Many gates and detours later, we came across a farmhouse (we actually came in on his back road, the rancher was obviously surprised, as even he doesn't use the road during the monsoon season.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902338.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902338.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Expert Gate Girl
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902335.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902335.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- A river seems to have run through the road here
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902332.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902332.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902344.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902344.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Rarely used trails
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902327.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902327.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- A river seems to have run under the road here, clearly a detour was needed.

The rancher pointed us to a WSMR access road that I had assumed was off-limits, but indeed was passable. Some of the first reminders that we were on a live range started to appear as we made our way towards the volcano. Further down the road, the indications became much more direct, reminding us that there was plenty of UXO (unexploded ordinance) laying around.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902346.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902346.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Bomb tailfin as a driveway marker? Sure! Why not?
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902322.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902322.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- UXO warning

As we started to approach a valley, we got our first view of the Jornada del Muerto Volcano , which was terribly exciting to me, as despite multiple searches, I couldn't find any modern imagery of this volcano, as a matter of a fact, these might well be the only high quality modern pictures of this volcano, as the local ranchers seem to avoid the place, and even the BLM guy seemed to think I was out of my mind for wanting to go out there..
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902325.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902325.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- landscape
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902318.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902318.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Jornada del Muerto Volcanic crater

As we arrived at the volcano we started to work our way around the perimeter eastward, and then north, one of the first interesting things I spotted was a rather well abused car, as I came back to the Suburban to continue along the trail, I just couldn't help but take a photo demonstrating just how comfortable Suburbans are, the roads may have been a mess, but these things are still comfortable enough to catch a nice nap in.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902334.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902334.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Carget

It was at this point that we ran into our first volcanic mud-hole, which the rancher I had spoken to earlier warned me about, as they apparently are quite deep, more than enough to become a major problem. If you've never experienced a desert clay-hole that's just soupy, there is no way you can imagine just how nasty these little traps are, but suffice it to say that you're going to take a very long hike should you attempt to drive through one.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902321.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902321.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Vehicle eating mud-hole

At the Eastern most tip of the flow, there is an access point that (if you're mad enough) you can drive into the actual flow areas, but I decided to heed the rancher's warning about invisible, bottomless mud-pots. However, I did drive to the top of the closest hill and managed to get a very nice view of the volcano and a beautiful overview of the mountains that lie in the WSMR.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902320.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902320.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- View over WSMR from the volcano

Beyond this area I continued to drive towards the northern flank of the flow, hoping to find an access road to the peak, which, I later confirmed to be entirely located on Armendaris property - I'm currently working on securing permission to visit the peak area. On the northern side of the volcano the terrain opened up into an amazing area of yuccas, some of which are among the largest and tallest I've ever seen. I was eventually able to locate an entrance that is less than five miles from the peak, and we parked there and took a hike into the flows.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902339.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902339.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Yuccas
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902328.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902328.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Trailhead

From the top of the lava fields I was able to get the best view of the volcano that I managed all day, the monsoons have been heavy this year, and the area was amazingly green, quite spectacular really, as I'm sure it rarely looks like it does right now, and for some reason I find the desert during monsoons to be simply breathtaking.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902343.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902343.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Jornada del Muerto volcanic crater from the northern flank
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902331.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902331.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Look at that verdant growth! (these grow outward from the center, this clump of grass is quite old)

The fauna was also very active, and I managed to see quite a bit of wildlife, the most photogenic of the day was a Desert Tortoise , although the invertebrate life was also abundant (thankfully there was a lack of biting gnats), and I was quite surprised to see a dragonfly so far from water.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902340.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902340.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Desert box tortoise
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902329.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902329.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902324.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902324.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Millipede
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902330.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902330.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Desert Dragonfly

After we hiked back to our vehicle, I decided to attempt to return via the same WSMR road that I had though was inaccessible, hopefully cutting off several hours of travel time. On the way out we came across a wonderful old ranch that just had great stuff laying everywhere. Further down the road we saw a few more reminders that we were traveling through and around a very much active military testing range, one of the most interesting was a field full of plywood full-scale replicas of SCUDs and SAMs.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902326.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902326.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Old ranch equipment (flywheel)
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902672.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902672.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Old ranch equipment (engine)
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902319.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902319.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Old windmill
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902345.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902345.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Fuel truck
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902336.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902336.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- SCUD and SAMs

As darkness fell around us, we hit the blacktop road that leads back to Socorro and worn out from a superb day of exploration made our way home for an evening of relaxation.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902333.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/110000-114999/112828/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_902333.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' <-- Yucca sunset

Message edited by author 2013-05-15 01:14:04.
08/08/2010 04:45:24 PM · #2
Looks like you had a sweet adventure there. Lots of cool stuff to see. Thanks for sharing it all, it was much appreciated.
08/08/2010 04:47:37 PM · #3
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Looks like you had a sweet adventure there. Lots of cool stuff to see. Thanks for sharing it all, it was much appreciated.


Thank you for all the great comments :) Glad you enjoyed reading it!
08/08/2010 04:49:53 PM · #4
I enjoyed it as well. Thanks.
08/08/2010 05:14:43 PM · #5
Thanks for sharing, Cory. I love Mexico. Spent like a third of my life poking around the Baja wilderness, and it was wonderful country. I'd love to go back. And Jornada del Muerte has always fascinated me.

R.

Message edited by author 2011-01-09 19:11:20.
08/08/2010 07:53:38 PM · #6
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

Thanks for sharing, Cory. I love Mexico. Spent like a third of my life poking around the Baja wilderness, and it was wonderful country. I'd love to go back. And {i]Jornada del Muerte[/i] has always fascinated me.

R.


If you ever get out this way, we can make a day-trip or two I'm sure.
08/09/2010 11:49:08 PM · #7
Cory, great shots! Now you really make me want to go back to Socorro area!
Can you build me a cabin on the property and then i'll just live there and take pictures, lol!
(Hey, did you ever get to that ditch in town?)
08/09/2010 11:57:53 PM · #8
Cool trip and photos. Thanks for sharing.
08/10/2010 12:07:30 AM · #9
That is some good stuff. Cory thanks for sharing it.
08/10/2010 01:09:11 AM · #10
Thanks for sharing. That looks like a great place to explore.
08/10/2010 02:55:58 AM · #11
Thank you for sharing your adventure. The images are beautiful and the text fills out the story nicely.
01/09/2011 06:19:06 PM · #12
Cory: These are amazing pictures about an area I've been curious about for a long time..Not much written about it..My friend and I are going to be out in the area in late February and we were hoping to do a little hiking and exploring in the Jornada..Is that do able with a 2 wheel drive car..How do you get into that area near the volcano? Is it private, military, BLM? Any directions you could send me would be greatly appreciated..Again, fantastic pictures!! My brother is a photographer..Thanks for sharing them....Paul
01/09/2011 07:00:57 PM · #13
I missed thread the first time. I've spent a bit of time doing work in the high desert of Utah and in Arizona. It was a really neat experience, and much better than working in the bush of northern Canada. Thanks for the tour, it was great!
01/09/2011 07:09:59 PM · #14
Originally posted by ptodar:

Cory: These are amazing pictures about an area I've been curious about for a long time..Not much written about it..My friend and I are going to be out in the area in late February and we were hoping to do a little hiking and exploring in the Jornada..Is that do able with a 2 wheel drive car..How do you get into that area near the volcano? Is it private, military, BLM? Any directions you could send me would be greatly appreciated..Again, fantastic pictures!! My brother is a photographer..Thanks for sharing them....Paul


I'll make it part of the public record here...

Yes, you can get there in a 2 wheel drive car, but you might need a socket to put it back together when you get there...

Basically this can be one of the worst imaginable roads with regards to washboards (repeating small bumps that vibrate your car apart, literally).. So at least airing down your tires to a medium-soft inflation is a great idea for the trip (airing them back up? Hmm yeah that could be an issue, but San Antonio is only a "few" miles away)..

As far as directions, just go in on the Fite Ranch road, and follow the WSMR range fence until you get there... Easy right?

Do not, do not, do not drive into anything that looks wet out there, there are mud pots that are deep enough and soft enough to eat your vehicle, and believe me they can be deceptive, I almost fell victim to one - even after receiving the above warning...

As for status, a section is on BLM land, hiking only... The crater is on private land, Armendaris Ranch, owned by Ted Turner, I've been trying to get access, but it has not gone well... *shrug*..

Thanks for checking out the photos, and I'm really glad you enjoyed them!

(Oh, and DO not try to follow the route I took, from Elephant Butte, that road was at the very limit of the capabilities of my vehicle..)

01/09/2011 08:04:19 PM · #15
Very cool. I think you like photography for the same reason as I do, exploring.
07/23/2011 08:26:21 PM · #16
Suppose I should add this old challenge entry, much better view of the faux SAM's.

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07/23/2011 08:36:58 PM · #17
I am so ready to go back! Guess we need to make a trip and check to see if our property is still there! :P
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