Lava tube caves, with their fascinating geology and hidden ice formations, await your careful exploration. With a free caving permit and the proper equipment, you can experience these magnificent underworlds. For more information, such as which caves are available for entry, permitting requirements, recommended equipment, maps to caves, etc., please download a copy of our caving brochure.
A free caving permit may be obtained in person at the El Malpais Visitor Center and seasonally at the El Malpais Information Center. Please check the visitor centers' hours of operation at visitor centers. Individual and group caving permits are only VALID with a cave permit number obtained from a park ranger at a visitor center.
An individual permit application may be completed in advance of your trip and brought to a park ranger at a visitor center to obtain a cave permit number.
Groups of eleven or more need to call 505-876-2783 to reserve a date and time thirty days in advance. After making a reservation, a group permit application may be completed in advance of a trip and brought to a park ranger at a visitor center to obtain a valid cave permit number.
If you are an experienced caver or group, be sure to read the cave decomtamination section below.
A new permit is required if visitors go to caves outside the monument and then return to re-enter caves in El Malpais.