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the Spanish Peaks, the Devils Stairsteps & the Dikes
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The Community of Cuchara has a "downtown" where nearly all the businesses are located. The Cuchara area is a popular summer vacation spot.

To the left is a small outbuilding along highway 12 to Cuchara. The town is on the famous "Scenic Highway of Legends" that forms a loop around the Spanish Peaks.


The Spanish Peaks - Dikes & the Devil's Stairsteps

A highway marker about the Dikes & Spanish Peaks - excerpts from this marker are shown below
The Stair Steps are part of an extensive formation of volcanic dikes that extend from the base of the Spanish Peaks
You can see the Devil's stairsteps, one of the many large rock walls known as radial dikes. There are many dikes (over 500) in the area radiating out, like spokes of a wheel, from the twin Spanish Peaks. The peaks were called "Wahatoya" or double mountain by the Commanche, who believed them the home of the rain gods and the source of life. Contrary to popular belief, the Spanish Peaks are not volcanoes. They began forming 65 million years ago when two huge masses of magma, or molton rock, were pushed closer to the earth's surface by powerful subterranean forces known as plate tectonics - forces that also helped create the Rocky Mountains. The magma solidified into igneous rock beneath the earth's surface 24 million years ago, and continued to move upwards, causing overlying, softer sedimentary rock to crack in a radial pattern. Over the course of the next million years, the cracks filled with magma and cooled into igneous rock of different composition than the Spanish Peaks. As the region continued to rise, over a mile of sedimentary rocks eroded away, exposing the two Spanish Peaks, and the crack fillings, which became the radial dikes. The Spanish Peaks have one of the most spectacular radial dike systems in the world.

Above view is looking north at the Devil's Stairsteps

The dikes are geologic formations that are unique to this area.

Below is Profile Rock where some say you see the profiles of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Others say you can see Martha Washington and a rearing horse or deer. Use your imagination and try it!

West of Highway 12 is Goemmer's Butte (also known as Sore Thumb or Devil's Thumb). The butte is actually a volcanic plug - a small volcano that never erupted.

A Legend: The Indians tell of giants who once roamed around Wahatoya. A quarrelsome tribe, they built rock walls as breastworks for their war, using huge boulders as weapons. The whole world reverberated from the sounds of battle. The gods of Wahatoya watched the tribes fight one another. They grew angry and withheld rain from the area. When water became scarce, the giants ended their war and went in search of water in distant areas. They left behind one lone warrior to stand guard over their prized valley. The giants never returned. The guard continued at his post. One day he sat down to rest and the gods, seeing his dedication, turned him into stone as a monument for all to see Goemmer's Butte

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This page was last updated on 16 July 2012 at 6:24 pm

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