El Malpais National Monument
A New Mexico Wonder: El Malpais National Monument
Dramatic sandstone bluffs and thrilling lava tube caves make this a must-see destination. New Mexicans love their state, and its not hard to see why. There is such a wealth of natural wonders here that beg to be explored. El Malpais National Monument is one of those gems.
It really is two national monuments in one. On the one hand, you have dramatic sandstone bluffs and hoodoos in a landscape rich in Native American history. On the other hand, you have volcanic geology with pygmy pine forests growing on the vast lava fields of the Grants Lava Flow. You can hike dramatic sandstone landscapes or explore lava tube caves rich in fascinating geology and hidden ice formations. El Malpais is awesome!
The lava fields are amazing to see. Black chunky hardened lava as far as the eye can see give silent testimony to the powerful forces that shaped our planet. Frankly, I found the invitation to explore the lava tube caves a bit intimidating and passed on it (there yet remains too much New York City in my wilderness deprived body) but intend to do it on a future visit. Sandstone Bluffs is perfect for a hike or exploring on a beautiful day, and provides dramatic birds-eye views of the lava fields and surrounding landscape. Herds of elk and mule deer are among the wildlife that makes this park their home. The lava tube caves provide the perfect habitat for bats.
Yes, I will say it again, El Malpais is awesome! Arizona may have the Grand Canyon, but New Mexico’s El Malpais National Monument is truly grand as well. Located near Grants, New Mexico, El Malpais National Monument is a little over an hours’ drive from Albuquerque. A highly recommended day trip!