One perfect day in El Malpais National Monument

Experience the lava fields, breathtaking views, and some of the oldest Douglas firs around

Sandstone Bluffs Overlook

You can see miles of this rocky terrain from Sandstone Bluffs Overlook.

Andrea Gómez Romero

Click to Enlarge

La Ventana Natural Arch
Grants Cafe

Why go now: This volcanic landscape gets a burst of color when August monsoons bring late-summer bloomers.

Elevation: You’re up there. Between 6,500 and 8,300 feet.

Lay of the land: 114,000 acres of caves, lava fields, and spatter cones, surrounded by sandstone bluffs and some of the oldest Douglas firs in the region.

Winged trips: In May and June, the monument is a stopover for northbound hummingbirds.

Name tag: El Malpais means “the badlands” in Spanish.

Gateway town: Grants (pop. 8,772), 25 miles north.

Hot rock: Grants earned the nickname “Uranium Capital” after a rancher discovered the radioactive ore there in 1950.

Drop by: The gleaming Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center (1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.; 505/876-2783), home to a 60-seat educational theater, exhibits, and free trail maps.


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