Location: Southwest of Grants, New Mexico, within the El Malpais National Conservation Area.
Elevation Range: 7,000 – 7,600 feet
BLM Acreage: 21,300 acres
The El Malpais WSA consists of several independent tracts of land under consideration for wilderness designation in conjunction with lands proposed for wilderness within the El Malpais National Monument (managed by the National Park Service). One tract includes Little Hole in the Wall, a “kipuka” (a Hawaiian term meaning island of fertile ground), which lava flowed around on all sides leaving grassland segregated by a sea of broken, jagged basalt. This area is covered by piñon-juniper woodlands and open stands of ponderosa pine.
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail passes through this WSA. Click here to visit the trail's website.
From I-40, turn south on Highway 53 (Exit 81) at the west end of Grants. Park at the National Park Service’s Zuni Acoma Trail trailhead adjacent to and on the south side of Highway 53, about 16 miles south of Interstate 40. Hike approximately 1.5 miles south to the intersection with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Taking the right fork, continue hiking south a short distance, then follow the trail west about a mile to a fence crossing. The El Malpais WSA is on the other side of the fence.
The trail passes through rugged lava flows. Consequently, there is no trail tread. Instead, hikers must take great care to identify and follow rock cairns marking the trail. Sturdy boots and appropriate outdoor gear and preparation is necessary.
Rio Puerco Field Office
435 Montano NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107