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

    El Malpais

    National Monument New Mexico

There are park alerts in effect.
show Alerts »
  • 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 »

Tinajas

SaBl-Tinaja
NPS Photo Dale Dombrowski
 
Frog-tinaja

NPS Photo

A tinaja is a bedrock depression that fills with water during the summer monsoonal rains and when snowfall accumulates in the winter. These microhabitats spring to life when the baked-dry stone basins fill with seasonal water. Many of the organisms that live in tinajas, such as crustaceans like fairy shrimp, are known as "drought tolerators" that lay eggs that are able to lose more than 90 percent of their internal water as they lie dormant in the dusty pool bottoms. When water fills the depression again they re-hydrate, hatch, and their life cycle continues. Most tinaja dwellers have very short lives - some as short as 10 days before they lay their eggs and the pool dries up.

Did You Know?

Cerro Rendija is a shield volcano

Cerro Rendija volcano, just west of Big Tubes in El Malpais National Monument, is a good example of a shield volcano. Low viscosity lava spread out rapidly from the vent and kept the volcano from gaining much vertical height. More...