El Malpais National Monument has various permits that are required for certain activities within the park boundaries. See descriptions of each type of permit below.
Note: 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
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.
Read below in the "Research Permits" section for the procedures 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.
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. 25.
Commercial Photography and Filming (PDF 215 KB) - Use the long application for more complex photography and/or filming projects.
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. 25.
Anyone wishing to conduct research at El Malpais National Monument must first submit an application. Contact the Research Permit Coordinator at 505-285-4641 or email us for more information..
Commercial Use Authorizations (PDF 299 KB)
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) 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).
Last updated: July 20, 2020