The weather at El Malpais goes through dramatic, sweeping changes over the span of hours, weeks, and seasons. Daily temperatures can swing 30 degrees (in both Fahrenheit and Celsius) or more from nightly lows to afternoon highs.
Spring is notoriously dry and windy, with gusts up to 60 mph (96 kmh) not uncommon. On especially windy days, enough dust can be kicked up to make visibility while driving or hiking difficult.
June - Mid-July
Summers at El Malpais begin with very hot, dry periods in June through mid-July before breaking with the later monsoon season that encapsulate August and September.
Mid-July - September
The second half of summer at El Malpais is defined by its thunderstorm-monsoons. Temperatures are generally milder, though heat is still present. Thunderstorms form quickly, making it important to know the forecast before venturing out. Lightning groundstrikes can occur anywhere, so be mindful of your surroundings as you may be the highest point, such as at Sandstone Bluffs. These storms bring much-needed rain to the arid landscape, however even small amounts of water can make dirt roads such as County Road 42 completely impassible and a driving hazard.
October - Early December
Daytime temperatures begin to cool to the mid-60s to mid-70s degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 degrees Celsius), while evening temperatures can drop around freezing. These create ideal road conditions in areas such as County Road 42. Winds can still be present, but not enough to be of serious concern. Mornings can be chilly, and because of elevation early snowstorms are always possible. Sunny days are the most common type of weather forecast this time of year.
Late December - February
Dramatic temperature changes become a regular thing during the winter months. Night time lows can sometimes reach -20 degrees Fahrenheit, (-29 Celsius). These temperatures do not account for windchill, which can make the temperatures feel colder than they already are. Day time temperatures are typically above freezing, sometimes jumping up into the 50's Fahrenheit (10 Celsius).
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Last updated: May 12, 2021