By Deb Stanley, Examiner.com
When you think volcanoes, you probably don’t think Colorado. However, we have a volcano crater in Dotsero, a town on Interstate 70 between Eagle and Glenwood Springs. Dotsero got its name when it was listed as “Dot Zero” as a reference point on survey maps created in the late 1800s.
Dotsero Volcano erupted about 4,000 years ago creating a crater about a half-mile across and 1,300 feet deep, according to the Smithsonian. Over the years, sediment has filled the crater. Now visitors will see a crater that is about 600 feet deep.
Visitors can drive up to the lip of the crater (directions below). Hiking the area will give you a better appreciation for this place.
Park next to the sign for Castle Peak and take a look around. You’re standing at about 7,100 feet in elevation. The bottom of the crater is about 6,800 feet. The top is 7,300. Hikers can trek up the road toward the top of the crater and an old mining structure. You may also want to take a social trail closer to the lip of the crater. Adventurous hikers can pick their way down the slope of the crater to explore the bottom. However, this is not an easy trek and is not recommended for children. Just remember, if you go down, you have to hike back up the steep slope.
At the bottom, hikers will find the remnants of car wrecks and trash. Exploring through the vegetation we found numerous tires, wheels and even a car engine. You may also find a diamond. A BLM geologist told me to look for dark Basalt rocks, crack them open and if there is something sparkling inside, it’s likely a diamond. The only problem with that? Basalt rocks are hard and diamonds are even harder. We think we spotted a rock with two diamond chips, but we left it behind in case you want to look yourself.
When you’re done exploring, return to your vehicle and return the way you came.
Details: Hiking to the top of the crater, to the bottom and back to the parking area is about 1.25 miles with 650 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From Interstate 70, take exit 133 and turn right on U.S. 6. Go a couple hundred feet and turn right on the frontage road for the highway going east. Just before the entrance to the trailer park, go left around the north side of the trailer park. This road continues east for a short distance, then turns uphill. It’s about 2.3 miles from the highway to the crater. The BLM says to park carefully because work trucks use this road and they need plenty of space.
For more information, call the BLM Colorado River field office at 970-876-9000. For more hikes in the Glenwood Springs area, visit Hanging Lake, Doc Holliday’s grave, Storm King Mountain or Grizzly Creek. For more hikes in Colorado and throughout the west, click here.