Things To Know Before You Come

A vehicle is stuck in the thick mud of County Road 42
Don't let this happen to you! Plan ahead and bring the right equipment and gear for your travels.


Visiting El Malpais requires preparation. The park is in a region of high desert, where much of the area is 6,400 feet (almost 2 km) elevation or higher,and receives less than 10 inches (25 cm) of precipitation a year. Elevation affects people in different ways, so having extra water and food is always suggested. One gallon (~4 liters) of water per person per day is ideal.

Weather conditions vary throughout the year. Be aware that temperature swings, strong winds, or a chance of thunderstorms may be present during your visit. Ask a ranger or check online for current conditions. Bring the appropriate gear and clothing you'll need to match the season of your visit for the most enjoyable and safe experience.

Nearly all hiking trails in the park cross rugged lava fields. Closed-toed shoes with good traction are highly recommended on lava. Extra supplies will be needed if you plan on caving, and caves may be closed to protect bat populations or other sensitive natural and cultural resources.

Most trailheads are accessed off of Highway 117 or Highway 53 via gravel roads. A four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle is suggested for accessing more remote areas such as Big Tubes. Roads are often impassable when muddy during the summer monsoon or winter snows. Cell reception can vary widely on these dirt roads. If you get stuck, you may need to walk a few miles to find signal. Help might also take a while to reach you because of difficult conditions and long distances.

Be sure to check park alerts before starting any adventure into the park. Your safety is your responsibility in all parts of El Malpais!

Last updated: May 31, 2023

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Mailing Address:

1900 E. Santa Fe Ave.
Grants, NM 87020


505 876-2783

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