Welcome to Wilderness Wednesday, our weekly posting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.
This week, we are highlighting the 39,540 acre West Malpais Wilderness. Designated in 1987, this Wilderness is a volcanic landscape of flat lava flows. Lava flows in the southern portion of the Wilderness are old enough to have well-developed soils with grass, juniper, and piñon pine cover, so that the landscape doesn't always appear to be lava underneath. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (Trail) passes through this portion of the Wilderness, offering wide-open and expansive views.
Everyone who visits this Wilderness is welcome to hike or horseback ride. Though this landscape may seem suitable for mountain biking, bicycles, as well as other mechanical transport (such as carts) are prohibited in Wilderness by the Wilderness Act. BLM provides many other excellent mountain biking opportunities which are listed here.
Follow these directions to the Trail in the West Malpais Wilderness: From Interstate 40 in Grants, drive NM 53 south approximately 26 miles to CR 42. Drive CR 42 approximately 22½ miles to a trailhead on the south side of the road. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the road from the Wilderness. Hike the trail north and east into the Wilderness. The Trail is marked with rock cairns and does not always have trail tread. For more information, please visit the West Malpais Wilderness website.
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