• 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.
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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 »

Your Safety

To Big Tubes Parking Lot
Trail to the Big Tubes parking lot.

Your Safety is Your Responsibility

This is not your average walk in the park. Most of El Malpais National Monument is undeveloped. Piles of rocks, called cairns, mark rugged routes across the lava flows which can be difficult to follow. Every year there are search and rescue operations for lost and/or injured hikers. In most of these cases, people were not prepared for the conditions at El Malpais.

Hiking and exploring El Malpais can be a fun and rewarding
experience if you are prepared. Before you go, ask yourself:

• Am I wearing the right clothes and shoes for the trail conditions?
• Do I have a daypack with water, first aid, and other essentials?
• Am I physically able to hike over rugged terrain?
• Does somebody know where I am and when I should return?
• Am I hiking with at least one other person in case I get hurt?
• Is there enough daylight left for my entire hike?
• Is severe weather or lightning in the forecast?

The information here and in area guides is intended to help you as you explore, but it cannot replace common sense and good judgement.

To report a safety hazard e-mail us. Please be specific in your message describing the hazard, location of the hazard, and any other pertinent information.

Did You Know?

Rough aa lava can be found near Cerro Rendija

Two distinct kinds of lava can be found in the varied flows of El Malpais. Lava is known by names from the Hawaiian Islands. Aa lava is clumpy and forms numerous irregular chunks, while pahoehoe lava cools to form smooth surfaces often covered with ropy textures. More...