• 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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  • Fire RESTRICTIONS now in effect!

    Fire restrictions are in effect at El Malpais. NO smoking anywhere in the monument; smoking is only allowed inside a private vehicle. Also, NO wood or charcoal fires in the monument. Do your part: don't let a wildfire start! 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 »

History & Culture

A homestead sits next to a lava flow

A lonely homestead lies next to a lava flow in El Malpais.

NPS

At Home in the Badlands

For centuries people have lived around and sometimes in the lava country. Ancient Indian civilizations crossed the lava flows with trail cairns and related to the landscape with stories and ceremony. Spanish empire builders detoured around it and gave it the name used today. Homesteaders settled along its edges and tried to make the desert bloom. The stories of all these people are preserved in the trail cairns, petroglyphs, wall remnants, and other fragments that remain in the backcountry.

 

Download In The Land of Frozen Fires (PDF) for a more in-depth look at the unique human and cultural history of El Malpais.

 
 

Did You Know?

A Western Diamondback rattlesnake in the desert

The Western Diamondback rattlesnake is one of several species of rattlesnake that inhabit the high desert of El Malpais. Like all wildlife in the park, they are protected and should be given space and respect. More...