El Calderon Area offers a sampling of all of the features that make El Malpais so unique: lava tubes, cinder cones, and lava flows! Two lava tube caves - Junction Cave and Xenolith Cave - are located just off the El Calderon trail. Caving permits are required to enter all lava tube caves at El Malpais National Monument.
The full hike is a 4.8 mile (7.7 km) figure-8 loop. The larger loop is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) through piñon-juniper forest and stands of ponderosa pine, while the other loop is 1.1 miles (1.7 km) along the cinder cone rim. The large loop can be shortened by following a dirt road that bisects the main trail to the parking lot.
Picnic tables and pit toilets are available at the trailhead.
The El Calderon Trailhead is located 20 miles south of Grants on Highway 53 and is generally accessible year round. Call the El Malpais Visitor Center for road and trail conditions.
Please remember to be prepared and plan ahead for any adventures in El Malpais!