Permits and Reservations


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Two cavers stand on rubble in the light from a giant hole in the ceiling of the surrounding lava tube.
Caving opportunities abound within El Malpais.  All that you need is a free--required--permit and the right equipment.

NPS Photo

El Malpais National Monument has various permits that are required for certain activities within the park boundaries.

Permits for the El Malpais National Conservation Area, operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can be obtained at the BLM's Rio Puerco Office in Albuquerque, NM. Call them at 505-761-8700 for information, or find them at
100 Sun Avenue, NE
Pan American Building, Suite 330
Albuquerque, NM 87109

Visit their website for more information.

Caving Permits

Caving permits are not being issued at this time. All lava tube caves are closed until further notice for resource and human safety purposes.
Lava tube caves await your discovery at El Malpais National Monument. A FREE cave permit is required to visit all caves in El Malpais NM. Cave permits can be picked up at the El Malpais NM Visitor Center at Exit 85 on I-40 in Grants, NM. You can also get permits at the El Morro National Monument Visitor Center. Visit our caving page to learn more. A seperate research permit is required if you wish to conduct research in the caves of El Malpais National Monument.

Educational Caving Trips

All groups and students interested in caving at El Malpais NM need a caving permit. Groups are asked to notify the park at least 30 days in advance of their visit. Please call 505-876-2783 for more information.

A caver uses their smartphone to photographs countless nodules of ice protruding a few inches from the rocky cave floor.
The lava tube caves at El Malpais offer countless research opportunities to study cave environments.

NPS Photo

Commercial Photography and Filming

This activity includes, but is not limited to, any filming or photography intended for commercial public viewing or advertising, such as commercial still photography, motion picture photography, television commercials, and/or commercial videotaping. Please allow at least twenty-one days for processing. If you have questions, you may contact the Commercial Filming Permit Coordinator at 505-285-4641 ext. 225.

Commercial Photography and Filming (PDF 215 KB) - Use the long application for more complex photography and/or filming projects.
Commercial Photography and Filming (PDF 171 KB) - Short application

Read a Summary (PDF 299 KB) of the commercial filming regulations and fees required by law - this document will answer many questions you may have about commercial filming and photography.

Special Use Permit

Individuals or groups who wish to use El Malpais National Monument for a special purpose or event require a Special Use Permit. A Special Use Permit must be applied for and approved by the Superintendent. Special Use Permits include, but are not limited to, weddings, large group picnics, sporting events, church services, public spectator attractions, entertainment, ceremonies, 1st Amendment activities (fee is waived), or anyone wishing to use a public address system. These permits are available in both a long (PDF 123 kB) and a short (PDF 108 kB) version. Please allow at least twenty one days for processing (ten days for 1st Amendment activities). If you have questions or are interested in these permits, please contact the Special Use Permits Coordinator at 505-285-4641 ext. 225.

Research Permit

Anyone wishing to conduct research at El Malpais National Monument must first submit an application. Contact the Research Permit Coordinator at 505-285-4641 ext 227or email us for more information..

Commercial Use Authorizations

Anyone (referring to individuals, corporations, and other entities) wishing to provide commercial services for El Malpais visitors in limited circumstances must apply for a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) (PDF 299 kB) before conducting any type of commercial service. CUAs, although used to authorize commercial services to El Malpais visitors, are NOT concession contracts. They are intended to provide a simple means to authorize suitable commercial services to visitors in the limited circumstances of the legislation (Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391).

Commercial visitor services means accommodations, facilities, and services the NPS has determined to be necessary and/or appropriate for public use and enjoyment of a Park area provided to Park area visitors for a fee or charge by person. The fee or charge paid by the visitor may be direct or indirect as part of the provision of comprehensive visitor services. Please allow thirty business days for processing. If you have questions, you may contact the Commercial Use Authorization Coordinator at 505-285-4641 ext 225.

Last updated: December 26, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020


(505) 876-2783

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