Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

Nice trail! Easy walking over lava...maybe a couple of troublesome steps, but overall a good walk. Interesting scenery. Trail is well marked with cairns.

hiking
14 days ago

Beautiful place, the contrast of black Lava to white Sandstone is artful... brilliant area to visit...

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Easy to walk . It was amazing .

hiking
2 months ago

Great views. We lost the trail a bit, but it’s hard to get lost. We did not go the whole way, as it began to get hot with little shade

hiking
3 months ago

Challenging terrain and trail is a little hard to follow. Very enjoyable though

Nice hike. Latter half of loop is not as pretty

hiking
4 months 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.

on Sandstone Bluffs Trail

hiking
5 months 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.

hiking
6 months 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.

hiking
6 months ago

Cool arch just steps from parking

hiking
8 months ago

The is a nice trail with pretty views, though it does get monotonous. The trail isn't always clear, but the route is well-marked with cairns. It ends with a view of La Ventana, which is a great place to rest and have a snack before heading back. It was an enjoyable hike in the winter, though I imagine it gets very hot in the summer due to the lack of shade.

hiking
8 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.

hiking
8 months ago

It was a good hike.

hiking
8 months ago

Beautiful views. Trail is not distinct at times, but hikers have created small cairns to lead the way. Small patches of snow in the shade. Trail surface varies between very soft sand and rocky.

hiking
9 months ago

Incredible geological site to see!!

Fun and simple trail

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

10 months ago

The trail is very short, the view is spectaular!

hiking
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.

hiking
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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

loved it!

hiking
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

i've hiked this trail many times and always enjoy it. as stated, it is a vista lovers trail, and i count myself among those. the trail itself is easy to follow but does vary from sandy to rocky and uneven, i've noticed my normal pace is much slower on this trail than others, mostly because of the uneven surface (and lots of photo-ops).

hiking
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.

on Narrows Rim Trail

hiking
Thursday, May 26, 2016

Great hike! I was glad to have my hiking stick along with me though. Several places with ankle twisting rocks along the path.

hiking
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.

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