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El Malpais National Monument, Grants

#1 of 8 in Things to do in Grants
Must see · National Park · Nature / Park
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If you wish to express a comment about something related to the park in a formal and official capacity, several established methods and mechanisms are at your disposal. To get started, please visit the park website at or contact the park directly by mail at 123 E. Roosevelt Ave, Grants, NM 87020. Contact the park via telephone at 505-876-2783 or 505-783-4774.

El Malpais National Monument is located in the west half of New Mexico near Grants. The monument was established in 1987 and preserves an authorized boundary of 114,277 acres. The monument is made up primarily of volcanic features such as lava flows, cinder cones, pressure ridges and complex lava tube systems, however; sandstone bluffs and mesas can be found along the borders on the eastern side.

People have interacted with the landscape in and around the monument for more than 10,000 years. The monument is filled with many historic and archeological sites, which are kept alive by the spiritual and physical presence of contemporary Indian groups, including the Puebloan peoples of Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni, as well as the Ramah Navajo. These tribes continue their ancestral uses of area lands including lands within the monument by continuing to gather herbs and medicines, paying respect to their heritage and ancestors and renewing ties.

Most visitors come to the monument during the summer months. Travel within the monument can be challenging however as many of the access points are from dirt and lava covered trails, which, for the most part, are not routinely maintained. Access to some areas close due to snow and rain.
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El Malpais National Monument reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
309 reviews
  • While definitely tough-to-explore badlands, El Malpais National Monument is not the lifeless volcanic vastness I had expected. Rugged plants and lichens have surprisingly done their best overtaking.....  more »
  • Being a local from the area, the beauty and serenity of the landscape never ceases to amaze me. Great place for a quick getaway from everyday hustle and bustle. Enjoy.  more »
  • Great views. Ten steps from the car at the Sanstone Bluffs. Excellent hiking or climbing for experts. Beautiful lava. The natural arch was so cool. Completely amazing.  more »
  • Great for kids to go caving! Free camping at Joe Skeen Campground-- I think we got the last spot for the night. Junction cave was awesome-- it is cool in there. Be sure to get a free permit at the visitors center, and definitely bring a helmet, or get one there because you will need it! If you have kids that love climbing all over everything, this is the place to go!
  • Hidden gem. We did not know that the park existed and that there were lava flows and tubes in New Mexico. We got any early start to avoid the hotest part of the day and found the trail to be spectacular. The wild flowers were beautiful.
  • Whole region is pretty good with lava formations. Quite a few trails with some being tough. There are quite a few caves as well
  • Truly incredible. There were lots of hiking trails and easily accessible lava tubes that you could climb in and explore. The area around it was real strange because it was almost like a mix between a forest and a desert and God just couldn’t make up his mind on what it should be so he just made it both. The weather was perfect, at least when I visited. The cinder cones themselves are amazing, even the smallest one is over 1000ft across and when you’re in the crater of it, you can really feel it’s size. Definitely worth visiting.
  • Beautiful scenery. A pleasure to drive instead of the freeway. Nice areas for picnicking.

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