Frequently Asked Questions

What does El Malpais mean?

El Malpais (pronounced ehl MAHL-pye-EES) is Spanish for "badlands" or "bad country". It was used by early Spanish map makers to describe areas of volcanic terrain.

Where are the Ice Caves and Bandera Crater?

Although these features are within the monument's legislated boundary, they are privately owned and operated. Visit for more information on this area.

Does El Malpais have a developed campground?

No. Primitive camping is permitted but requires a high-clearance vehicle to access areas where camping is allowed. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages a 10-site primitive campground on Highway 117, just south of their ranger station. The campground has pit toilets and campsites feature picnic tables and fire grates. El Morro National Monument has a nine-site developed campground, and is approximately a one-hour drive from Grants, NM.

Can I go into any wild cave that I want?

It depends. Five caves are open for public exploration via a FREE cave permit system. Cave access may vary throughout the year due to road conditions or seasonal cave closures to protect local bat populations. Visit our caving page has goes for more specific details.

Entry into any other cave at this time is by permit for research purposes only: a permit must be obtained well in advance of your visit. Check out our permits page or contact monument headquarters at (505) 285-4641 for more information on obtaining permits.

Can I bring my dog?

Pets must be leashed at all times. We don't recommend hiking out on the lava with your pet as the rugged terrain can easily injure them. The most pet-friendly trail is the 3.8 mile El Calderon trail located off of Hwy 53 in the El Calderon Area. For other options, visit our pets page.

Please don't leave your pet locked in the vehicle or unattended at any time.

Pets are not permitted inside caves.

Last updated: May 12, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020


505 876-2783

Contact Us