• 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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  • Junction Cave NOW OPEN!

    Junction Cave is again OPEN for visitation. Get your free caving permit at either the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center at i-40/Exit 85 in Grants, or at the Information Center on NM53.

  • 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 El Malpais Information Center on NM Highway 53 or at the Northwest New Mexico Visitor Center at I-40/Exit 85. More »


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Meadows dance with color in the spring and summer as a wide-array of butterflies and moths flutter throughout El Malpais National Monument. When butterflies and moths combine with the colorful flowers, El Malpais is a mecca for another common visitor, the "shutter bug."


Western Tiger Swallowtail

NPS photo Phillip Brown


Amid the cone flowers, globemallow, blanket flowers, and Indian paintbrush, colorful butterflies and moths scurry hither and yon in search of food.

Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers, but some also get nourishment from other sources such as pollen, tree sap and rotting fruit. Butterflies serve as important pollinators for some species of plants, but do not carry as much pollen as bees. Butterflies can however carry the pollen over longer distances. As adults, butterflies consume only liquids, sipping water and dissolved minerals from stream sides or mud puddles, and nectar from flowers.


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)


NPS photo Phillip Brown

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Great Purple Hairstreak

NPS photo Phillip Brown

Great Purple Hairstreak (Atlides halesus


NPS photo Phillp Brown

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)


NPS photo Dale Dombrowski

Mexican Tiger Moth (Notarctia proxima)

Giant Leopard Moth

NPS photo Phillip Brown

Giant Leopard Moth (Hypercompe scribonia

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...