El Malpais National Monument
El Malpais, New Mexico lies in the high desert lands south of Interstate 40 midway between Albuquerque and Gallup. To the east are reservation lands of the Laguna and Acoma Indians; to the west are those of the Zuni and Ramah Navajo.
The National Park Service (NPS) administers El Malpais National Monument, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers El Malpais National Conservation Area. These agencies operate a visitor center in Grants. The BLM also has a visitor center 9 miles south of Interstate 40 on State Road 117.
Road access to the national monument and national conservation area is via State Roads 53 and 117 and County Road 42, which links the state roads on the west and south of the area. Use high-clearance vehicles off the state routes; 4-wheel-drive vehicles are generally not required. Dirt roads may be impassable when wet.
Note: All vehicles are restricted to existing, designated roads. In wilderness areas both vehicles and mechanized equipment are prohibited. Some 85 percent of the national monument has been found suitable for ultimate designation as wilderness.
In the NPS-managed national monument cattle grazing continued through 1997. In the BLM managed conservation area, hunting and trapping are allowed and cattle grazing will continue.
Motels, camping, food, and other travel services and facilities are available in and near Grants, New Mexico. Make your first stop at the visitor center in Grants to obtain maps, books, and other publications about the area. Rangers can answer questions about your visit, including road conditions and points of interest.
Safety and Other Considerations
Travel Conditions and Courtesy
When roads are wet, travel is discouraged on dirt roads that normally require high-clearance vehicles. Check at the visitor center for current conditions.
Never go caving alone. Hard hats boots, protective clothing, gloves, water, and 3 sources of light are necessary when entering lava tubes.
Snakes, Scorpions and Cactus - Oh my!
El Malpais is home to seldom seen poisonous scorpions and rattlesnakes. Nonpoisonous bullsnakes sometimes act like rattlesnakes. If you encounter a snake, do not disturb it. Also avoid cactus spines and the sharp-edged leaves of yucca.
National Park Service
P.O. Box 939
Grants, NM 87020-0939
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication