• 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 »

Birds

Bald-Eagle
Bald and golden eagles in the winter, migrating songbirds in spring and fall, and residents like white-throated swifts and canyon wrens are just some of the more than 190 bird species you'll encounter at El Malpais National Monument.

Great birdwatching sites include the various stops along Hwy 117 down the east side of the monument, particularly the Las Ventanas and Narrows Picnic Areas, and the El Calderon trialhead on Hwy 53 south of Grants. These sites provide a variety of habitat - sandstone cliffs, shortgrass prairies, and rugged volcanic landscapes to the east, and pine forests to the west. More information on birds and birding sites in El Malpais can be found in our downloadable birding guide & checklist.

 
Raptor Monitoring

A volunteer scans the North Pasture area for birds.

NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Raptor and Bird Monitoring

To keep up on what is flying around throughout El Malpais, Natural Resources personnel do weekly raptor and bird monitoring. Monitoring efforts take place on both the east and northwestern sides of the monument. You can check on sightings by logging into the National Aububon Society's eBird website. Click on explore data/bar charts/New Mexico/Counties in New Mexico/Cibola County. If you are interested in helping with the bird monitoring contact the Natural Resources Office at (505) 286-4641.

 
Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Raptors

From the prairie environment in North Pasture to the Ponderosa pine forests near El Calderon, El Malpais offers a tremendously diverse environment for raptors. It is not uncommon to see many different raptors including bald and golden eagles, red tailed hawks, prairie falcons, American kestrels and many more.

 
Greater-Roadrunner

Greater Roadrunner

Photo Dale Dombrowski

Greater Roadrunner

The Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) is a large ground dwelling bird with a brown, white and buff body and a shaggy, crested head. Roadrunners are members of the cuckoo family, and while running, they can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. Many people believe the roadrunner can not fly, but this is a myth, as they are capable of flight. Roadrunners eat scorpions, snakes, spiders and a number of other small animals. Roadrunners are fast enough to catch rattlesnakes and often two birds will team up to subdue a large snake. They have expanded their range in the U.S. and can be found from Louisiana to California. The roadrunner is the New Mexico state bird.

Did You Know?

A lava moonscape in El Malpais

When people say that El Malpais lava country looks like a "moonscape" they aren't far from the truth. Much of the moon is covered with basalt lava flows which form the "maria" or lunar seas. Astronauts trained on lava flows in preparation for walking on the moon. More...