Saturday, September 14, 2013

El Malpais & La Ventana Natural Arch

Leaving Grants, NM, Black Cloud and Worse Luck took a short-cut off I-40 and were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful, but desolate high desert landscape. They accidentally stumbled across La Ventana Natural Arch, in Chibola, New Mexico...

...and decided to explore the nearby National Monument, El Malpais.
El Malpais was formed by volcanic lava flows over a million years ago.  These flows hardened into many interesting basalt structures and caves.  Just driving this scenic route you can view miles of black lava tubes that really contrast with the straw colored desert vegetation.

Roadtripper Wisdom:  There are many activities available in this area, however even if you have just an extra hour you can see a lot.  The park encompasses a large area with hiking, caving, and other outdoor activities available.  The short trail at La Ventana seems easier while the Continental Divide trail seems longer and moderate paced.  It is warm and sunny so lots of water and sunscreen are advised, additionally there are many scenic dirt roads in the park which are better suited to 4-wheel drive. For more information call the Visitor's Center (505)-783-4774 or visit the park website.

Kick back and enjoy the ride, but be sure to watch for wildlife in the road.  Black Cloud and Worse Luck saw these small mule deer on their trip as well as some squirrels that looked like prairie dogs... they followed the car in a huge group, which was really cool!

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