While I am working on my Alaska pictures, here is the start of a new photo series for you: highlights of El Malpais National Monument. This geological area is one of those little known places managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. We decided to stop here during our April trip to New Mexico and we’re glad that we did!
El Malpais was established in 1987 and is located in the high desert lands south of interstate 40, midway between Gallup and Albuquerque. This is very desolate country and we saw only a handful of visitors while we were driving and walking on short trails. (Let’s just say that there was no need to remove our shoes to help with the counting!) The name means “badlands” in Spanish. With an incredible rugged terrain, it lives up to the name! The elevation ranges between 6500 feet and 8300 feet. Most of the 114,000 acres is not accessible thanks to the volcanic remnants of lava flows and caves.
For the initial post of this series, a few examples of notable sights in the conservation area are shown below. The first photo records the remains of an old block-wall homestead, sheltered near a massive rock wall. Scenes like this serve as a reminder of a tough life once lived in the high mountain desert.
In addition to the towering sandstone cliffs in the topography, we also periodically saw giant monoliths rising above the terrain. Oddly out of place, they look like they had been magically dropped from the sky.
And this rock buttress was spectacularly immense, dwarfing mature trees and the farm ranch at its base.