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Current Operations at El Malpais

Last updated September 9, 2022. Information will be updated when conditions change.

The NPS has updated its masking guidance based on the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels tool, which helps communities decide what prevention steps to take. Masking requirements will vary by park based on local conditions, however masks are still required on all forms of enclosed public transportation. Updates will be posted on individual park websites and in parks to help you plan your visit.  In areas the CDC identifies as high COVID-19 community level, masks are required for everyone in all NPS buildings, regardless of vaccination status. In most low and medium COVID-19 community level areas, masks are optional, and you are welcome to wear a mask if it makes you more comfortable. Additional details are available at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

El Malpais (Cibola County) is currently at MEDIUM levels. Masks are OPTIONAL in NPS buildings.

Open:

  • 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.
  • Two lava tube caves are currently open: Giant Ice and Lava Bomb. These are both undeveloped wilderness caves and require significant preparation and time to visit. Learn more about lava tube caving at El Malpais. Currently, these caves are only accessible with a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle due to poor road conditions, and the road may be entirely impassable after heavy rains. Call the visitor center at 505-876-2783 for current road conditions.

Closed:

  • El Malpais Visitor Center is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning June 21st, 2022 until late summer or early fall due to limited staffing. The rest of the park is open to visit while the visitor center is closed. No parking or restrooms are available at the visitor center while the visitor center is closed. The Visitor Center Trail is closed when the visitor center is closed.
  • Some park lava tube caves remain closed due to ongoing concerns with white-nose syndrome and protection of sensitive of natural and cultural resources. This closure does not affect the Ice Cave, which is a privately owned business. Contact Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano for more information on visiting Ice Cave.
 

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, 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 9/9/2022):
NPS 300 to Big Tubes is mostly dry but deeply rutted. High-clearance vehicle is highly recommended. Four-wheel drive may become necessary if conditions change. Conditions past Big Tubes are unknown, although the road is likely significantly washed out in places.

CR42 (last report 9/9/2022):
CR42 to NPS 300 is passable but rutted. High-clearance 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: September 9, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants , NM 87020

Phone:

505 876-2783

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