Junction Cave CLOSED for the winter
Junction Cave is now closed to protect hibernating bats that overwinter within. Please help protect our winged relatives by respecting this closure. The cave will reopen for visitation on March 16th, 2014. Other permit-accessible caves remain open.
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 »
There are more than 1000 species of bats in the world, and they make up almost 25 percent of all mammals species. Bats are a valuable resource and provide great benefits to humans. Many species of bats eat insects and this helps reduce the mosquito population and the spread of the West Nile Virus and malaria. It is estimated that one little brown bat can eat as many as 1,200 insects in an hour!
Some species of bats serve as major pollinators of many plants used by humans including bananas, mangoes, figs, cashews and agave, which is used to make tequila. And did you know that bat manure (also known as bat guano) is an important ingredient used to make organic fertilizer because it is high in phosphorus and nitrates.
A number of bat species are in peril from a fungus known as White-nose Syndrome which was first discovered in this country during the winter of 2006-2007. You can find out more about White-nose Syndrome by clicking here.
NPS photo Dale Dombrowski
Bat Outflight Programs
The natural phenomenon of watching thousands of bats emerge from their cave roost and rise into the twilight in search of food is a spectacular sight. You can witness this exciting natural event by joining park rangers every Friday evening during the summer at 7 p.m. in the El Calderon parking lot. Following a brief program at the parking lot, participants hike about 3/4 of a mile on an established trail to witness the event.
Did You Know?
There are no trails at Sandstone Bluffs in El Malpais, but plenty of hiking opportunities exist for the route finder. Wandering the rim will reveal many hoodoos, rock formations, and natural arches. More...