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Geology at Panum Crater
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Panum Crater

Panum Crater is a favorite hike for teachers and students who want peer inside a young volcano and see how a rhyolitic volcano forms from the inside out.

You won't see hot lava and steam vents, but you will see rhyolitic blocks, spires, and volcanic glass. Panum Crater also provides a great vantage point to view Sierra Nevada glacial moraines and Mono Lake.

Hiking on top of the plug dome. photo by Santiago Escruceria.

A guided walk at Panum Crater introduces students to an overview of Eastern Sierra geology and rhyolitic plug-dome volcanoes. Panum walks last approximately 90 minutes and involve hiking on trails that cover occasionally steep and uneven terrain. Walking distance is just over one mile. We recommend all school groups have a guide since Panum Crater is easily damaged by trail cutting and there are multiple unsigned trails and routes. Groups sizes of 20 or less are recommended due to narrow trails and jagged rocks.

Panum Crater. Photo archive.

We can schedule a guide for your group based on your specific area of focus. We have staff and volunteers with diverse backgrounds and years of outdoor education experience.

Email Education Director Bartshé Miller or call (760) 647-6595 for more information or to schedule a group.

Panum Crater

Students can observe pumice, obsidian, and evidence of crater and plug-dome formation. Reactions and interactions, geology and natural resources are all relevant California Science Framework concepts.

Panum Crater is an excellent outdoor classroom for:

Elementary students
Earth sciences

High school, undergraduate,
and graduate students

Native American history


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