Explore the most popular kid friendly trails in El Malpais National Monument with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

6 days ago

Well-marked trail along a lava flow and into the lava tubes. Special care was taken to mark the safest route into the depths of the caves with reflective tape. Bring a headlamp and a back-up per person. Although a short hike to the Tubes, our group spent way more time than intended scrambling through and exploring the Ives. This is a great place to escape the heat. The parking lot is grated gravel and nicely maintained; pleasantly surprised to find the cleanest, least smelly outhouse I’ve ever used near the trailhead. Several picnic tables under the trees provided a nice setting for our picnic.

Easy walk but not a lot going on for the majority of it. Did see a snake & fox though.

27 days ago

This listing and some of the reviews seem to be referring to several different trails. The route shown here is definitely not easy. My husband and I are experienced hikers, and we lost the trail a few times. I would rate it as moderate most of the way for the routefinding needed.

However, as written, this route has grades of more than 50% near the end. That is because it is a class 3 scramble. Definitely NOT easy or even moderate, especially when two people are trying to get a 60 pound dog up the rock face. We kept checking the AllTrails app thinking we were off trail, but we were right on route.

The "no dogs" tag on AllTrails is also incorrect; the sign in the parking lot states all El Malpais trails are dog friendly (but to consider the trail surface, obviously). This trail as written was completely fine for our dog (except for the scrambling near the end); the trail literally only crosses volcanic rock twice for maybe 10 feet total. Most of the trail is sand/sandstone.

Note that there are not views of the Ventana Arch from this trail. (Though there are a couple smaller natural arches that are cool!) Overall a nice trail; just be prepared, as the route currently shown does not match the rating or description.

1 month ago

Nice hike, some slight up hill grades. Make sure that you continue up the rim trail for really nice views of the volcano bowl and surrounding countryside.

Nice easy hike. Yes a little rough trail and little up hill but pretty easy. Some unique views of caves and the volcano cone.

1 month ago

Cool arch just steps from parking

3 months ago

Excellent challenge for novice hikers and plenty of unusual scenery to keep the more experienced equally engaged. I hiked this on a weekday late afternoon in mid February and didn’t run into a single person. This trail is well marked and easy for the average hiker, but as others have stated, rough at times due to the volcanic rock (depending on which return route you take) - hiking boots are recommended.

Easy going hike to the volcano and ice cave. This was a fun little road stop!

Good to see once. Interesting

4 months ago

Incredible geological site to see!!

Fun and simple trail

The huge rock formations are other worldly in places. Its very cool.

6 months ago

The trail is very short, the view is spectaular!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Definitely get the free caving permits from the ranger station and check the caves out. Take a helmet and a light!

Monday, April 17, 2017

get a permit at the ranger's office (no advance registration needed), get a map, bring headlamp and helmet (kneepad if you have them) and go explore the caves! we did all four caves in half a day: Junction (short and easy), Xenolith (a bit difficult and narrow), ice caves (super short like a joke), and big skylight. all pretty beginner friendly but fun and beautiful. I have a fwd and it's fine on the road.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Short walk back to the arch. Nice stop to do in the area. Good for all the family even on a hot day.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The caves were rad! It was cold once you got inside the caves - wear a light jacket.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

fyi - closed on veterans day

Friday, November 11, 2016

loved it!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

loved the ice caves, view from crater was pretty nice. Easy Trail

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Returned and hiked again. Entered one of the caves (permit required). El Malpais is a great area.

Must keep sight of the cairns, very uneven lava rock is the trail. Really not much harder than many rocky trails.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fun hike. Easy hike. I took my whole family. There are two trails. One trail winds around the volcano and the other takes you down to the ice cave. Pretty informative and fun for kids. It does require a 10$ fee.

scenic driving
Tuesday, December 01, 2015

This route takes you off the main hwy and lets you see the real country. Many hiking, camping opportunities.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Easy trail. Nice to look at the flows without having to get off trail. Lava is hard on boots! Watch for mountain lions. There were a couple of sightings shortly before we arrived.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Awesome hike!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

An enjoyable and scenic hike to the crater with nice views all along the trail, ending in a good view at the entire crater of the extinct volcano. I was amazed by the ice caves which remain frozen year round due to the insulating qualities of the lava tubes in which they are formed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pretty informative information located throughout the trail to the Ice Cave. A short easy walk. The volcano is an easy hike. Beautiful scenery and weird at the same time.lol Requires a fee and it was $10 per person when I went.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Awesome trail but better to be prepared with hiking shoes for walking on lava. Went summertime and its was HOT!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Easy walk. About 20 up to the rim. Well maintained. Free parking but you have to pay for trails.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

This BLM and Acoma Pueblo land. It has a large section of the National Contenental Divide Trail. It has volcano tunnels, lave, slot canyons, many short trails, huge bluffs, campgrounds-all free.

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