Unfortunately the weather was pretty miserable the entire time we were there, but we did manage to find a break in the rain for a couple of days to get out and explore. While you can view the lava fields from the Visitor Center just off I, expect to drive around miles south to the trailheads. Video Hiking lava field in El Malpais National Monument 26 of Background El Malpais is Spanish for "the badlands", and is so-named for the vast volcanic lava fields that cover the area, with a myriad of volcanic features such as lava flows, lava tubes and cinder cones. Vast volcanic lava fields dominate the landscape at El Malpais National Monument. The area is still considered volcanically active and has even been studied for geothermal energy exploitation.
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Their ancestral uses — gathering herbs and medicines, paying respect, and renewing ties — continue today. The cinder cones, broken ridges, and brushy flats are intermixed with conifer, pinon-juniper and aspen woodland stands providing for a depth and breadth in wildlife diversity uncommon to the surrounding area. With summer temperatures, reaching the triple digits this hike is ideal for fall weather. Be sure to brush up on your desert hiking skills prior to any trip in this area.
Hikers must have sturdy boots on the rugged, often sharp lava. Families can hike up to 5 miles before the lava becomes more rugged. El Calderon has unique exploration opportunities including caves, lava flow sinks, and beautiful sandstone formations. From this point, hikers follow the Zuni-Acoma Trail 15 miles to its intersection with There is a parking area with interpretive signs and port-a-lets.
To protect this special place, please do not disturb artifacts or the pristine terrain. From this point, hikers can travel south through the Chain of Craters area for 18 miles.
Map of El Malpais National Monument
Print When driving through Grants, on Interstate 40, the craggy basalt terrain cascades south to the horizon. It is visually daunting. If Mordor was real, this is what I imagine it would look like. Lord of the Rings reference for any non-geeks reading. Mordor was home to the evil wizard. The Spaniards preferred to circumvent the lava flows on the north or south.
El Malpais National Monument
Open year-round. Note that use may be restricted periodically due to fire dangers or other management needs. This area is first come, first served. There are no camping fees at Joe Skeen Campground. Restrooms are available.
El Malpais National Monument Maps