Getting Around

A classic car at El Malpais.
A Route 66 traveler visits El Malpais.

NPS photo by Rick Best

Exploring the region by vehicle can be done on paved highways or rugged backcountry dirt roads.

Travelers leaving the pavement are advised to get up-to-date road information and weather reports from a visitor center before heading out.

The El Calderon Trailhead road and Sandstone Bluffs road are generally passable to all vehicles. Four-wheel-drive and high clearance are recommended for other park backcountry roads.


Exploring By Car:

Highway 53 provides access to:

  • Zuni Canyon Road (USDA Forest Service)
  • Zuni-Acoma Trailhead
  • Bonita Canyon (USDA Forest Service)
  • El Calderon Area Trailhead
  • El Malpais Information Center
  • Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave (Private Business)
  • County Road 42 Chain of Craters north entrance

Highway 117 provides access to:

  • El Malpais Ranger Station (BLM)
  • Sandstone Bluffs
  • Acoma-Zuni Trailhead
  • La Ventana Arch (BLM)
  • South Narrows picnic area (BLM)
  • Lava Falls Trailhead
  • County Road 42 Chain of Craters south entrance

County Road 42 is the "Chain of Craters Backcountry Byway" and travels along the western boundary of the park. It provides access to the Big Tubes area and a segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. This is a lightly maintained road that can become impassable after heavy rain or snow. Get a road report and travel in a four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle if using this route.

Last updated: December 23, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020


(505) 876-2783

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