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 »
NPS photo by Rick Best
Exploring the region by vehicle can be done on paved highways or rugged backcountry dirt roads.
The El Calderon Trailhead road and Sandstone Bluffs road are generally passable to all vehicles. Four-wheel-drive and high clearance are recommended for other park backcountry roads.
Exploring By Car:
Highway 53 provides access to:
Highway 117 provides access to:
County Road 42 is the "Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway" and travels along the western boundary of the park. It provides access to the Big Tubes area and a segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. This is a lightly maintained road that can become impassable after heavy rain or snow. Get a road report and travel in a four wheel drive high clearance vehicle if using this route.
Did You Know?
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...