Alerts & Conditions



Current Operations at El Malpais

Last updated February 2, 2023. Information will be updated when conditions change.


  • All surface hiking trails and overlook areas are open, including Sandstone Bluffs Overlook, Lava Falls, and El Calderon. Trails and parking areas outside of the visitor center complex are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with the exception of Sandstone Bluffs Overlook which is open from sunrise to sunset.
  • The Big Tubes Area hiking trail is still open during the winter when caves are closed. The road to Big Tubes can be impassable after heavy snows or while snow melts. High-clearance four-wheel drive is highly recommended, and four-wheeel drive may be required for much of the winter.
  • The Junction Bridge Cave at the start of El Calderon Trail is still open when caves are closed. This is a short lava tube cave that offers an excellent introduction to what lava tube caving is like. Safety gear is recommended but not required. This cave is suitable for young children.


  • All park lava tube caves are closed from November 1st through April 30th to protect hibernating bats. This closure does not affect the Ice Cave, which is a privately owned business. Contact Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano for hours of operation.

Road Conditions

While most of the park is accessible down two paved state highways - Highway 117 and Highway 53 - some areas of the park, including the Big Tubes area and Lava Bomb Cave, are only accessible down primitive dirt roads that typically require a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles.

During summer monsoon season and winter snows, County Road 42 and NPS 300 to Big Tubes are often extremely muddy, rutted, and occasionally impassable. A high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended if attempting to drive on any unpaved, undeveloped road in the park during summer months. Drive these roads at your own risk. You are responsible for removing a stuck vehicle. Learn more about driving CR42 and NPS 300.

Current Road Conditions

NPS 300 Roads (last report 2/2/2023):
NPS 300 to Big Tubes is rutted, snow packed, and muddy. A high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is likely required on this road while snow covered and when snow begins to melt. The road past Big Tubes is very rough and only accessible to high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. Travel at your own risk. Do not drive if muddy. Several vehicles have been stuck on this road recently. You are responsible for removing a stuck vehicle.

CR42 (last report 2/2/2023):
CR42 to NPS 300 is deeply rutted and snow packed. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended.


Recreate Responsibly

Whether seeking wide-open spaces or exploring a historic urban neighborhood, remember to #RecreateResponsibly! We encourage you to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow Leave No Trace principles when you visit.

  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit for closures, fire restrictions, and weather.
  • Plan and prepare. Reservations and permits may be required. Make sure you have the gear you need and a back-up plan.
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for all identities and abilities.
  • Respect others. There is space for everyone and countless outdoor activities. Be kind to all who use the outdoors and nature differently.
  • Leave no trace. Respect the land, water, wildlife, and Native communities. Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles.
  • Make it better. We all have a responsibility to sustain the places we love.

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Last updated: February 2, 2023

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1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants , NM 87020


505 876-2783

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