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Grants, NM – El Malpais National Monument (NM) opened Giant Ice Cave and Lava Bomb Cave on May 1, 2022. These caves will be open May 1 through October 31 annually and closed in the winter months for bat hibernation. Permits are required for exploration of these caves.
Lava Bomb Cave is a small but spectacular cave created when a large projectile, or “lava bomb,” launched from a volcanic vent crashed into a lava tube, leaving a skylight that shines down on the remains of the lava bomb projectile that created it. Giant Ice Cave is a shallow but large cave.
These are undeveloped, backcountry and wilderness caves that require pre-planning and personal protection equipment in order to safely explore them. To minimize the impact on park resources and experiences of solitude, the number of people per day is limited to 10 per cave.
Permits must be picked up in person at the El Malpais NM Visitor Center or the El Morro NM Visitor Center between 9am and 5pm daily. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Visitors must attend a safety briefing and have equipment inspected before venturing into a cave.
All other caves in the monument remain closed until further notice for resource protection due to ongoing issues with vandalism and concerns with White Nose Syndrome. To re-open a cave, the park must 1) first determine if there are sensitive natural or cultural resources within a cave, 2) determine the number of people per day that will not impact the resources within the cave, 3) establish and mark a safe route through the cave, and 4) develop a rescue plan for each cave.More information can be found online at www.nps.gov/elm/planyourvisit/caving.htm or at 505-876-2783.-
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s more than 400 national parks units and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
Last updated: May 3, 2022