• Sweeping panoramic views of lava flows, cinder cones, and distant mountains can be enjoyed at Sandstone Bluffs.

    El Malpais

    National Monument New Mexico

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  • 2014 Compendium now available

    The 2014 park compendium is now available via the link below. This includes new prohibitions on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) within national park units. More »

  • Cave permits now available for selected park caves

    FREE mandatory cave permits are now available to visit specific caves in El Malpais. Permits can be obtained at the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center at I-40/Exit 85 or at the El Malpais Information Center on NM Highway 53. More »

Frequently Asked Questions

What does El Malpais mean?
El Malpais is Spanish for badlands or bad country. It was used by early Spanish map makers to describe areas of volcanic terrain.

Where are the Ice Caves and Bandera Crater?
Although these features are within the monuments legislated boundary, they are privately owned and operated. Visit www.icecaves.com for more information on this area.

Does El Malpais have a developed campground?
No. Primitive camping is permitted but requires a high-clearance vehicle to access areas where camping is allowed. We recommend that you obtain a free backcountry permit from our Information Center. The BLM has a 10-site primitive campground on NM117, just south of their Ranger Station. The campground has pit toilets and campsites feature picnic tables and fire grates. El Morro has a nine site developed campground located about 20 miles west of the Information Center off of NM53.

Can I go into any wild cave that I want?
Currently, four caves are open to exploration via a FREE cave permit system. At El Calderon, cavers can visit Junction Cave and Xenolith Cave. At Big Tubes, cavers can visit Big Skylight Cave and Giant Ice Cave. Click here for more details.

Entry into any other cave at this time is by permit for research purposes only: a permit must be obtained well in advance of your visit. Check out our permits page or contact monument headquarters at (505) 285-4641 for more information on obtaining permits.

Can I bring my dog?
Pets must be leashed at all times. We don't recommend hiking out on the lava with your pet as the rugged terrain can easily injure them. Please don't leave your pet locked in the vehicle or unattended at any time.

Did You Know?

A gopher snake at El Malpais

Gopher snakes can mimic rattlesnake behavior, thrashing their tails in dry grass or leaves. These elegant reptiles are nonvenomous and help control rodent populations in high desert regions like El Malpais. More...