BLM New Mexico COVID-19 Information Update January 8, 2020

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El Malpais National Conservation Area

The El Malpais National Conservation Area (NCA) was established in 1987 to protect nationally-significant geological, archaeological, ecological, cultural, scenic, scientific, and wilderness resources surrounding the Zuni-Bandera volcanic fields. El Malpais translates to "the badlands" in Spanish.

The NCA includes dramatic sandstone cliffs, canyons, La Ventana Natural Arch, Chain of Craters Back Country Byway, Joe Skeen Campground, Narrows Picnic Area, and Cebolla and West Malpais Wilderness Areas. There are many opportunities for photography, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing within this unique NCA.

For more than 10,000 years people have interacted with the El Malpais landscape. Historic and prehistoric sites provide connections to the past. More than mere artifacts, these cultural resources are kept alive by the spiritual and physical presence of contemporary Native American groups, including the Ramah Navajo and Puebloan peoples of Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni. These tribes continue their ancestral uses of El Malpais including gathering plant materials, paying respects, and renewing ties.

Quick Facts

Public Law

Established by Congress: December 31, 1987

Size: Approximately 249,200 acres

Contact Us

Rio Puerco Field Office
100 Sun Avenue NE
Pan American Bldg.
Suite 330
Albuquerque, NM  87109-4676
(505) 761-8700

El Malpais Ranger Station
NM Highway 117, Grants, NM 87020 

The El Malpais Ranger Station is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. For more information, please contact the NCA Outdoor Recreation Planner Jennifer Merino at 505-761-8993.

Directions to El Malpais Ranger Station:
From Interstate 40 take exit 89 (the Quemado exit) onto NM Highway 117. The BLM El Malpais Ranger Station is located 9 miles south of the exit on Highway 117.