Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
We are highlighting the Carrizozo Lava Flow Wilderness Study Area (WSA) this week. This WSA encompasses a large portion of what is believed to be one of the most recent lava flows in the continental United States, dating back somewhere between 700 to 5,200 years ago. Though the area generally appears to be a flat plain, it is a rugged landscape rivaling the rockiest mountains. What at first might seem like barren rock will surprise you in the variety of plants finding a home here. Numerous animals also call the lava flow home; and the area is especially good for bird watching.
A hike on the Malpais Nature Trail meanders along an edge of the WSA. This trail is paved, includes interpretive displays, and is accessible by wheel chairs. The most adventurous will wander west onto the lava flow and into the WSA itself, but be careful, the terrain is extremely rugged and there are no trails in the WSA. You will need to stay attentive to avoid falling into cracks and to find your way back.
From US Highway 380, turn south into the Valley of Fires Recreation Area approximately four miles west of Carrizozo, New Mexico. The Malpais Nature Trail is located on the right. The Recreation Area is a fee site charging $3 for day use and includes a small visitor center, restrooms, and camping sites for tents and RVs. For more information, please visit For more information please visit the Carrizozo Lava Flow WSA website.
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